The University of Washington is getting ready to embark on a huge, multi-million-dollar renovation of Husky Stadium, the home of UW football.
The current facility is old, sports fans, the seats are cramped together, the inside of the stadium is failing, plumbing is old and older, restroom facilities are really outdated and the renewal is needed.
Action already has begun and will start in earnest after the Oregon game in November. The Apple Cup will be played at CenturyLink Field and all of 2012 will be at the downtown stadium.
My first visit to the press box, 186 feet above the playing surface, was in 1953 as a fledgling radio announcer in my frosh year. I was assigned to help broadcast a game in the lower box, outside with all the noise.
I eagerly accepted the assignment and remember riding the old, slow elevator to the top, then helping set up the broadcast gear and readying the spotting charts.
The two teams came out to go through the pre-game workout and I was in trouble: I could not make out the jersey numbers with clarity. It was the first inkling I was nearsighted.
I somehow made it through the broadcast (thank goodness I wasn’t on play-by-play) and returned home, saw Dr. Don Bettger, received glasses and it was like a whole new world two weeks later at the next game.
The home of the Huskies was built in 1920 and was the lower horseshoe bowl as we know it. There were expansions in 1936, 1950, 1968, 1987 and 1989.
Seating capacity is 72,500, the 15th largest on-campus facility and the largest stadium, college or pro, in the Pacific Northwest.
The field surface is FieldTurf and the stadium is widely regarded to have one of the prettiest settings to watch a game and also to be one of the loudest stadiums in the country.
Husky Stadium is one of only two football facilities where fans can get to the game by boat. The other is Nyland Stadium at the University of Tennessee.
Largest crowd? 1995 vs. Army with 76,125. Second was 1997 when Arizona State drew 74,986.
In September 1950, Washington opened the newly-renovated stadium featuring a single, cantilever roof over an upper deck on the south side.
The game drew only 30,245 as fans were leery of using the new stadium. A week later 49,704 saw the Huskies beat Minnesota.
The Huskies and Idaho played in October 1968 on the month-old AstroTurf, the first artificial surface in college football. In 1981, a human wave created by 53,304 people standing and sitting rolled around the stadium in the third period. The Wave was introduced to spectator sports by Husky yell king Rob Weller.
There are many other memorable moments and you can find them in the Husky program for sale at all games.
The renovation will be severe. The field will be lowered and fans will be closer to the field as the running track will be removed.
There will be new south side luxury suites, patio suites and Club Husky.
Students and the band will be moved to a renovated bowl on the west side of the stadium, the lower radio/television press box will be lifted to the highest part of the upper deck and the press box will be located atop the bowl.
No longer will be writers and broadcasters have to suffer through the shaking of the current press box, but writers will lose the super view of the field.
The suites? Costly.
The luxury suites will have plush seats for 18, an in-suite lounge area, high-def flat screen TVs, four standing-room-only credentials and four reserved parking passes for $60,000 per donation.
Patio suites for four to six fans will go for $10,000 for a four-seat box, $15,000 for a six-seater. Club Husky seats will be $1,050 to $2,000.
The gifts will be 80-percent tax deductible but season tickets are extra, of course.
All ticket prices will be announced in late fall next year.
In the meantime, California on Sept. 24; Colorado on Oct. 15; Arizona on Oct. 29 and Oregon on Nov. 5 will be the last times to watch a game in the current Husky Stadium.
Be there for the next four games and it will be hard to ride down the elevator after the Oregon game for the last time.
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