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$64 million renovations add suites, club seating

August 24, 2005
The view from the new press box will be substantially improved. The new 193-seat press box will provide high-speed internet and copying facilities for the media.

With fewer than three months until the season opening game against Kent State, the $64 million Spartan Stadium addition continues to take shape.

"This isn't only to benefit the people who can afford the (suite and club level seating)," Associate Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Greg Ianni said. "We've tried to improve conditions for as many people as we could in Spartan Stadium."

Although most people expect the entire project to be completed by the time the season starts, that is not true. Ianni said offices and areas for university development, alumni relations, 4-H Foundation, MSU foundation and career services will not be done until after Jan. 1, 2006.

However, the parts of the stadium that need to be done for the football season are expected to be finished by Aug. 1, Ianni said.

"There's a systematic approach to it," he said. "At the top three levels, we're down to finish work - painting, cabinetry, ceilings - they'll be bringing in carpet soon.

"The middle two levels, because of how long it took us to demo(lish) the existing structure, we had to start that last, so that's not late, but it's on the back of the schedule."

The levels of the new addition break down into sections 100 through 800, with work being done on the bottom level and levels 400-800.

Level 800

The 800 level is the new press box area, which more than doubles the size of the old press box - from 90 seats to 193 seats, Assistant Athletics Director and Director of Sports Information John Lewandowski said.

"The biggest change is we are almost now exclusively a media center," Lewandowski said. "Before, we had all the shared common space with the car dealers and corporate sponsors and all that stuff. Now, this is almost strictly a working press area."

The expansion of the press area, which is split into two parts, the north side and the south side, was done partly in an effort to accommodate more media for larger games.

"Before, because of the limited seating we had, regardless of who Michigan State was playing, we were turning media people away," Lewandowski said.

"Even if it was a hometown paper or weekly paper, somebody was getting kept out.

"We couldn't accommodate all the bowl scouts - now it's no longer an issue."

Level 700

The 700 level is the suite level, containing 18 12-person suites, six 24-person suites, the Board of Trustees' suite and the president's suite. The 12-person suites range in cost from $35,000 to $62,500, and the 24-person suites cost $80,000 per season.

The president's suite sits on the south end of the stadium and has 96 seats, and the Board of Trustees' suite is half the size and sits on the north end of the level. Overall, Ianni said they are pleased with the suites.

"We put (the president's and Board of Trustees' suites) on the ends, and we put the paying customers in the middle," Ianni said. "I think that was a good move on our part."

Level 600

The 600 level is located where the last two rows of the old west side stands use to be. The two rows were taken out and a full level with a photo deck was put in its place.

Also on the 600 level, Ianni said, will be wheelchair seating, home team and visiting team video, in-house video for the scoreboard, the instant-replay booth for the Big Ten, the stadium operations booth and the network television booth.

For the network television booth, MSU got some help with design from ABC. The network helped with sound installation, special ceilings, a grid with built-in cable hook-ups and the ability to hang backdrops and lighting.

The 600 level also is home to one of the most unique parts of the stadium, an area specifically aimed to help sports broadcasters open up the windows to hear and see how fans are reacting to plays on the field.

"The only materials that we have from outside the U.S. are these windows," Ianni said in regard to special windows on the 600 level. "The only place in the world you can get these windows is Germany."

Lower levels

The 500 level is the newly remodeled concourse of the upper west wing, which was about eight feet wide. When the 2005 season starts, the concourse will have been expanded to three or four times the original width. The concourse also will have new concession stands, new rest rooms, wider access points and a new ramp which is wheelchair accessible, Ianni said.

The 400 level is the 18,500 square-foot club seating area with an outdoor and indoor area. The seats are $4,500-$6,500, and the outdoor seating is covered by the overhang of the upper deck and will be heated in the winter.

To create this level, the old press box area was destroyed and is being completely rebuilt - one of the reasons this area will likely be the last part finished, Ianni said.

The project called for the concrete in the upper west stands to be restored. The benches were removed and new ones will replace the old.

To get from ground level to the upper seating areas there is a ramp located in the southwest corner and a stairway located on the northwest corner of the stadium. There is a total of six new stairways, three elevators and one service elevator.

The ground level has numerous new features, such as a foyer area for persons to enter the stadium, a new ticket office, six new gates for fans, a first-aid center and a new field hockey locker room.

"We've not had anything this large and with this capacity to take care of the needs of our fans," Ianni said. "Ambulances can pull right up to the first-aid area on the sidewalk if something serious happens to a fan."

All of these areas surround the Spartan Statue, which has already been placed in the foyer area but will remain covered until work is finished.

From what he's seen, Ianni is pleased with how things are going and is excited about what the finished product will look like.

"We like to think it's going to be better than what anyone has done," Ianni said.

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