Thought I’d share my first impressions of the newest Martin stadium upgrades with you after my attendance of the home opener last Saturday.
- The new football operations building (FOB) is a whole lot bigger in person than in pictures. Five stories somehow is just bigger when you’re looking straight at it.
- Also the Crimzone stands are not nearly as close to the endzone as it seems in photos. There is plenty of room for players to stop and avoid injury. A diving attempt at a ball in the very back portion could get dicey, but it’s not any more dangerous than avoiding the two goal post supports back there.
- The new scoreboard is awesome! There were complaints of “ghosts” or outlines on the players. If you were somewhere underneath it that’s probably what you saw, but from about the 20 yard line where I was sitting, there was nothing of the sort. It was actually one of the clearest things I’ve ever seen.
- Another complaint came from not utilizing the full scoreboard for replays and such, which is an interesting point. There are fixed ads around the outside edges of the actual screen, which reduces the size of actual space used during replays to close to what the previous board offered. Personally, I don’t care, at no particular part in the stadium is it even partially difficult to see and there’s really no need for anything bigger.
- The final big complaint was that there weren’t nearly enough replays or out of town scores coming up. Talking to Nick, who helps run the truck and the scoreboard, he said they were still working on fixing the replays and figuring out some additions such as out of town scores for the games.
- The new speaker system is placed around the outside of that as part of the “scoreboard” on three separate platforms on each side. To me, the sound was good, though I didn’t care for random filler music in between 2nd and 3rd down. To a lot of the older fans it was too loud though. Nick also told me the operators were still working on perfecting the volume levels as well, so that may be fixed going forward.
- Gotta be honest though, the sound is MUCH better, I can actually hear the referee now. There needs to be some coordination between the music, the ref and the PA guy, Glenn Johnson. Several times two, or all three of those were trying to be heard over each other and it was annoying.
- The ribbon boards were fantastic. Just as I thought they might, they brought a new life to the press box side of the stadium and the endzone. Still thought they could use them a little bit more for useful information such as stats and such (maybe they would be a good place for out of town scores). But overall the color and different fan themes like Bring the Noise and Touchdown and such were fun and a nice touch.
- The whole place just looks and feels bigger, due to these improvements. I’m fairly certain the “open” end with the FOB still going up without walls helped the ball carry big-time in that direction. Both Michael Bowlin and Andrew Furney bombed some kicks in that direction that seemed 5-10 yards further than their normal length. For example Bowlin hit the “Crimzone” section three separate times on kickoffs and Furney kicked a 46 yarder that I thought would easily have gone 60+. It helped that the wind was carrying that way too.
- We have ourselves a stadium worthy of the Pac-12 now, there’s no doubt about it. Once that FOB gets finished it will truly be as good as any other stadium in the conference. Smaller, definitely, but just as good.
- I simply cannot wait for the crimson endzones that are supposed to be installed before next season. I don’t know why I’m so excited for them, I just am. Somehow I think it will make the field seem bigger, but also, as a fan in the stands, it will be much more clear where the football is in relation to the endzone. Look at ‘Bama’s Bryant Denny below for an idea of how it might look.