The ACC provided a notable stadium renovation debut over the weekend, as Duke University hosted its first game at the revamped Wallace Wade Stadium on Saturday.
Wallace Wade Stadium has been significantly overhauled since last season, with much of the work focused on a five-story tower. Along with adding new concession and restroom facilities to the stadium, the tower also provides premium and presidents seating area and replaces the press box that once sat in its location on the stadium’s west side. The tower also allowed for the addition of a new sports medicine center.
Similar renovations have taken place at other college facilities in recent years, with schools such as Utah State revamping entire sections of their stadiums by adding a multi-purpose tower space. Given that this renovation addresses fan, administrative, and team ammenities, Duke feels that it is a worthwhile addition to Wallace Wade Stadium. It also sees the intiative as a broader signal that the school is committed to its football program. More from the News & Observer:
The key change, though, reflects realities beyond campus. Where once basketball drove TV revenues, particularly for the ACC, now the preponderance of income is derived from football. Top-notch facilities and support, matched by a quality coach such as David Cutcliffe, are seen as prerequisites to consistent relevance in a Power Five conference.
“We had to be a legitimate player in football,” [deputy director of athletics Mike] Cragg says. “The previous model of Duke athletics probably didn’t work in the modern world by relying on one sport, being basketball. We’re unique in that – most schools are built around football.”
In fact, for decades Duke was a laggard in football spending, its coaches’ salaries at the bottom of the ACC as the Blue Devils endured a run of 17 losing records in 18 seasons under four different men prior to Cutcliffe’s well-timed arrival in December 2007. The strategic plan adopted four months later succinctly targeted the need to “change the culture of the entire program” in football.
Duke’s first game at the renovated Wallace Wade Stadium resulted in a big win, as the Blue Devils defeated North Carolina Central by a final of 49-6.
Image courtesy of Duke Athletics.