South End Zone construction continues despite campus closure, pandemic

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The 13,500 square foot project features new premium seating including 10 suites, eight loge boxes and 300 club seats. (Logan Wassall | Collegian Media Group)

Over the years, Bill Snyder Family Stadium has seen a number of renovations, including the West Side Stadium Center in 2013 and the Vanier Football Complex in 2015. The South End Zone project is the latest addition to that list.

This 13,500 square foot project is meant to further improve the game day experience at the stadium and should also enhance men’s and women’s basketball games at Bramlage Coliseum.

The project broke ground in February with an estimated cost of $50 million. It’s target completion date is prior to the 2021 football season. If there is college football this fall, fans will see ongoing construction in the south end zone.

Features include a covered concourse, new concession space, two new video boards, a distributed sound system, 2,800 square feet of new restroom space, a 13,500 square foot club space, a full-service kitchen and bar and new premium seating including 10 suites, eight loge boxes and 300 club seats. The renovation will match the style of the east and west sides of the stadium.

The project is funded by donations from the Ahearn Fund. The department has raised $75.7 million of the $105 million Building Champions capital initiative announced last fall, which includes the construction of a new volleyball arena, Olympic performance training center and a new football indoor facility and outdoor practice field.

Even through the pandemic, construction is still running as scheduled, which can be viewed via livestream.

“What’s going on right now is a lot of heavy equipment stuff, so there’s not a lot of close individual contact,” athletics director Gene Taylor said. “So I think once they get into closer detail work, that [social distancing] will be in place.”

While a lot of fans support this project, there are a few fans, particularly those normally seated in the south end zone, who will have to relocate due to the construction.

Since the 1988 season, Lisa Barr has been a season-ticket holder in section 14, which is located in the heart of the south end zone.

“We have been in that section for so long and all the people around us have known each other, and kind of grown up with each other; our kids our now having grandkids,” Barr said. “We had a row in front of us where we could walk, and where we moved to, it’s not going to be an easy-in easy-out.”

While there are frustrations with fans in the south end zone, the overall experience for fans will increase.

“For the average fan, anybody else besides the people who had to be displaced, it is a great thing,” Barr said. “It looks like it’s going to have a more family-centered atmosphere.”

Players are excited for the final product as well since bringing in more seats equals more noise inside the stadium.

“It’ll just look cool, it’ll be more like a bowl,” sophomore tight end Samuel Wheeler said. “I’m hoping that just the compactness will help the sound.”

After a promising first year from head coach Chris Klieman, the future of Wildcat football looks bright, and everyone around the program is eager for this project to be completed.

“It’ll be great. I’m assuming it’ll be one of the final touches for Bill Snyder Family Stadium, at least in the near future,” Taylor said. “It is really going to enhance both the look and feel of the football facility and stadium, but it will also touch a lot of really cool things with Bramlage as well.”

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