Friday, 19 October 2012

ASU officials say new stadium will be game-ready Nov. 15

Alabama State University officials addressed an overflow crowd of more than 200 fans that crammed into a meeting room at the Markham Football Complex on Thursday night to listen to a report on the university?s new football stadium.

Officials discussed the progress of stadium construction, the parking that will be available for the Nov. 22 game with Tuskegee University, the tickets available and tailgating options, leaving the end of the 75-minute presentation available for a question-and-answer session.

?This is actually a 24-month project that has been compressed into 18 months, then we?re trying to get an extra month so we can move in,? said Eric Thornton, vice president for buildings and grounds. ?We have about 250 people per day working on this project, seven days a week, to make sure we make this project happen on Nov. 22.?

Thornton said the stadium scoreboard for the west end zone ? adjacent to Harris Way (Hall Street) ? will be installed Monday and the stadium should be game-ready by Nov. 15.

Some elements of the stadium, such as the restaurant and retail space to the right of the scoreboard, isn?t slated for completion until February, but all of the interior work will be completed in time for the Turkey Day Classic.

?How long have we been waiting on this? A long time,? ASU?s executive vice president and chief operating officer John Knight said. ?It?s here. There were some that said it would never happen, but it?s here. And you will be there on Turkey Day.

?Our effort was to make certain that we provided for you a stadium second to none. You won?t find a stadium anywhere that will be able to even be competitive, in many cases, to what we have brought here to the campus of Alabama State University.?

The $62 million, 26,500-seat stadium includes suites and a club-level lounge as part of the south stands, which are visible from Interstate 65. While 18,521 tickets have already been sold for the Turkey Day Classic, 1,164 remain in the center of the north stands and 1,887 remain in the south upper deck as part of the 7,979 tickets still available.

Of the 31 questions asked by the fans, 16 were specifically about parking and nearly half of the remainder were about tailgating procedures, which require a $75 fee for both recreational vehicles that will park by the baseball stadium and tents that will be located on the academic mall on Harris Way.

?We knew that would be the bulk of the questions but I think the plan the police department has developed will definitely alleviate any problems that we have,? said Danielle Kennedy, vice president for university relations.

?Basically, all of the parking people always had when we were at Cramton Bowl, they?ll have that plus some, and then we?ll provide a shuttle free of charge.?

There are just 400 parking spaces at the stadium and 1,500 available on campus for a $15 fee, but ASU police chief Huey Thornton said other available spaces, such as Cramton Bowl and the RSA parking decks, will be available free and the university will provide a shuttle service.

The university will have another community meeting Nov. 8, and fans can go to the stadium website ( for more information.

?It went really well,? Kennedy said of the meeting. ?People had very good questions. I think this brings a lot of clarity for them. They really understand what the process is and what they need to do, so from where we sit, it?s great. We?d rather get the tough questions now ? and people know ? than for them to get here on game day and not have the best experience they can have.?

Kennedy also treated the guests to first-hand news regarding the Wednesday night Turkey Day Classic concert on campus that will include comedian Dominique, the R&B band Legacy and recording artists Eric Benet and Charlie Wilson.

The campus will be cleared of all vehicles by 2 a.m. Thursday and the gates will be locked. The campus will reopen at 6 a.m. for the Turkey Day Classic.

Thornton said campus police, working with the Montgomery Police Department, have worked out a plan to get fans off the campus after the game by directing traffic down one-way streets toward the interstate.

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