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The East Rises at Sun Devil Stadium

Arizona State Sun Devil Stadium rendering

For now, the east will rise at Sun Devil Stadium.

The final portion of the stadium’s reconstruction is underway at the home of Arizona State University football and site of Super Bowl XXX. The reconstruction, which began in 2014, will now focus on the eastern end of the stadium.

The east side renovations are scheduled to conclude in 2019, and include the addition of air-conditioned club space on the 300 and 400 levels and office space on the 450 level, which is a new addition to the structure. Construction of the levels is slated to be completed before the 2018 season, with the full project wrapping up before the 2019 season.

“We’ll probably be back to the wire again,” lsaac Manning, the manager of the stadium renovation project, told the Arizona Republic last week. “There are bonus incentives to be on time for a mid-August delivery, but you can’t do the amount of construction we’re trying to do with the limited amount of space and not have it be tight.”

The $300 million renovations, when completed, are intended to turn the stadium into a multi-purpose facility. The east side work was originally planned for after the 2016 season, following completion of upgrades to the south and west sides of the stadium in 2015 and ’16. But the east renovations were postponed to allow for expansion of the original renovation plan. In the meantime, the north end of the stadium was upgraded this past summer, including a new football practice facility and the installation of a massive video board.

The three-year renovation program has actually led to a shrinking of the seating capacity, from over 71,000 in 2013 to the current number of 57,078.

“The community is going to have a building that’s right-sized for the long term,” Manning said. “This is a 50- to 100-year building, and we’ve got to do as much today to future proof it. This wasn’t necessarily about rebuilding a stadium. It was really creating a community front porch and asset.”

According to the Republic, the tight deadline for completion of east end renovations should be navigated easier than the other phases of the project:

Lessons learned from rebuilding the west side will help. Issues with blockage in a utility trench slowed progress in 2016 so that work on the east side was done this summer.

“We tried to get the longer lead items out of the way and get in front of those so once the demolition is done, you don’t get stuck saying we just found Jimmy Hoffa,” said Manning, referencing the still unsolved disappearance in 1975 of the labor union leader.

The east side will not totally mirror the west side because there is more construction flexibility on the side without the press box.

“We couldn’t go any higher (on the west) because we had to deal with the existing structure,” Manning said. “We’re not vertically constrained (on the east) so we can have a 450 level. We’re able to raise the upper side so everybody on the east side will have a clear view of the scoreboard,” compared to the west where an overhang blocks some video board view.

Among the improvements to the east side include a 4,000-square foot club area, as well as restrooms and concession areas, on the 400 level. A club area will also be placed on the 300 level.

But perhaps the biggest change to come to Sun Devil Stadium won’t have to do with seating, practice facilities or office space. Previous reports have indicated that the stadium could be the recipient of a naming rights agreement upon the completion of the renovations.

“Arizona State University is a prime commodity in the local, regional and national sports landscape,” Ed Olsen, general manager and CEO of sports marketing agency Line Drive and a former ASU executive, told Arizona PBS in May. “A naming-rights deal for a newly renovated Sun Devil Stadium could be a robust revenue source for Sun Devil Athletics.”

This article first appeared in the weekly Football Stadium Digest newsletter. Are you a subscriber? It’s free, and you’ll see features like this before they appear on the Web. Go here to subscribe to the Football Stadium Digest newsletter.

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August Publications