Fresno State will close one section of seats at Bulldog Stadium for its Mountain West Conference opener against Nevada on Saturday after engineers inspected damage caused by a broken irrigation line.
Section 38, where the Bulldogs marching band sits during games, will be closed. The band will move to its right into section 37, one of three student sections. The student sections also will move to the right and if any season ticket holders are impacted they will be moved to other seats in the stadium.
“After evaluating the situation with the Facilities Management staff and campus consulting engineers, as a precautionary measure in order to ensure the safety of our fans and students, Section 38 will be closed for the Mountain West opener versus Nevada,” said Paul Ladwig, senior associate athletics director for external relations.
“Work will continue around the clock to make sure Bulldog Stadium is ready for kickoff on Saturday.”
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The changes, for now, are for the Saturday game against Nevada but could be extended. The Bulldogs have five home games remaining – Saturday against Nevada, Oct. 14 against New Mexico, Oct. 28 against UNLV, Nov. 4 against BYU and Nov. 25 against Boise State.
Fresno State also on Monday had crews clearing mud from the field, then cleaning and refurbishing the field turf.
“We excavate all the dirt, after all the dirt is off we’ll wash it. After we wash it, we’ll suck up any of the othe loose debris, fluff it, come back in and put the rubber core back in, fluff it one more time and then it’s good to go.” Ladwig said.
The Bulldogs, coach Jeff Tedford said, were scheduled to practice inside the stadium on Sunday, but were forced to move to the grass practice field after the irrigation line break was discovered by a facilities employee that morning.
A river of mud to flowed into the end zone and onto the field, reaching as far as the 10-yard line. There was extensive cracking on the berm, but it did not appear to extend to the ramp teams use to get from the locker room to the field or to the south scoreboard.
Fresno State athletics director Jim Bartko in 2015 announced plans to renovate the 37-year-old stadium and continues to raise funds and finalize plans to that end. But cracking in the seating areas and walkways on the east side of the stadium could delay the start of the project by a year or longer, pushing a grand re-opening past the 2019 season opener against Minnesota to 2020 or perhaps ’21.
The project, which could run to $60 million, includes the addition of tunnels and a cross aisle to improve access to the seating bowl as well as enhanced restroom facilities and concessions stands and a tower on the west side of the stadium that will include suites, a stadium club and new press box.
Fresno State is expected to have the project in front of the California State University Board of Trustees for approval shortly after the new year, at either its January or March meetings.
“Obviously, everyone knows we have an aging stadium,” Ladwig said. “We’re in the process of that renovation project and working with people on the university side and state side to move that project forward. We’re going to continue to ask the community for their help in getting us to a place where we can fix this stadium.
“It’s kind of apropos that it happened, but as of this point the stadium renovation and some of the things that have been going on on the east side and a broken irrigation line are two different things.”
Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada
NEVADA AT FRESNO STATE
- Saturday: 7 p.m. at Bulldog Stadium
- Records: Bulldogs 1-2, Wolf Pack 0-4
- TV/radio: ROOT/KFIG (AM 940), KGST (AM 1600)
- Of note: Nevada lost at No. 16 Washington State 45-7 on Saturday and is ranked 10th in the Mountain West in scoring offense (19.8 ppg) and scoring defense (35.8 ppg). One of its losses is to Idaho State, a championship subdivision program.