Renovations on GV’s Lubbers Stadium progress as scheduled due to warm winter

GVL / Robert Mathews; Lubbers Stadium construction (2/21/2012)

Robert Mathews

GVL / Robert Mathews; Lubbers Stadium construction (2/21/2012)

Brady Fredericksen

While the construction of the new Mary Idema Pew Library may be the most talked about – and viewed – construction project at Grand Valley State University, the $5 million renovations to Lubbers Stadium have been coming along as the winter has come and gone.

Although the field is still six months away from completion, Athletic Director Tim Selgo said the construction has gone smoothly thanks to cooperative weather this winter.

“Thankfully, we’ve had a good winter weather-wise,” he said “Actually, it got too warm at one stretch and they had to shut down for a day because the mud was too soupy. The weather has cooperated and everything is going according to plan.”

With winter going more frequently than coming, the crew has had an easier time digging the field out.

The process currently involves the laying of large cement blocks for the eventual lower bleachers, which will help to expand the seating capacity from 8,500 to 11,000 fans.

“People are starting to get excited, and when they do see the big hole they realize we’re going to have much more of a bowl effect in our stadium,” Selgo said. “I’m quite certain when we get to next summer and as it starts to take shape, people are going to be quite excited.”

In addition to Lubbers Stadium’s renovations, the school is also redoing the football practice fields located southeast of the stadium next to the Kelly Family Sports Center. GVSU head coach Matt Mitchell said those renovations will smooth out the bump-filled fields, allowing them to be oriented in a north-south or east-west fashion and reduce wear and tear.

Included in that renovation is a 30-yard stretch of grass for offensive line drill work.

The excitement for the new field has increased as the construction has moved along. Due to the field’s on-going construction, Mitchell and his team will take their annual spring game to Houseman Field in Grand Rapids, Mich. on April 14.

Once the Lakers travel “on the road” for their spring game, they’ll be that much closer to finally playing in their new home, something Mitchell feels is exciting to all.

“I think the stadium will add some excitement to the 2012 season,” said Mitchell, whose team won seven straight games to end last season. “We’re all looking forward to getting out in that environment, especially with how things ended in 2011 with us having some momentum – we’re excited to get out there in 2012.”

While fans haven’t had many chances to see the construction process, ones like senior Nick Girimont said they know that once the project is complete, the stadium experience will be different from past years.

“Renovation shows GVSU progressing as a whole … it’s like a symbol of our athletic program advancing,” said Girimont, a political science major. “I think it will provide students with an emotion they would usually associate with major football programs they see on television.”

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