Last Saturday night marked the debut of Sun Devil Stadium 3.0 in progress. Renovations that started at the north and south end zones (and resulted in the eviction of bitter people like me to sections where the rows were on top of each other) extended to the west side of the stadium during the offseason. In fact, the entire lower section of the west end zone was ripped out – seats, concretes, everything – and rebuilt.
Let’s start with something which probably was the least part of the redesign but caused some of the greatest excitement – not only new water fountains, but a designated fixture for refilling plastic water bottles. The idea comes as part of Arizona State’s larger effort to make Sun Devil Stadium a zero-waste facility but, for fans who have endured more than a few hot afternoons and evenings and have been left either to buy new water or refill their bottles at a water-heater sized container whose contents were the same temperature as you might find in a water heater, the ability to refill at will with cold water was incredible.
A close runner up, not pictured, would be the new men’s bathrooms where Sun Devil Stadium’s infamous troughs have given way to individual urinals. Enough said there.
Also gone are the old, asphalt-paved concourses (as well as the roller coaster nature of the undulating path from south to north the length of the field), replaced with a wide-open concourse where – get this – you can see the field while you’re heading to the concession stands. (For all that was done at Arizona Stadium, the concourses still are dungeons.)
By the way, did I mention the concession stands? Take a look at both below. The beer gardens also have moved to the north end of the concourse, back where the smoking section was once upon a time.
Work remains, of course – the entire east side is due for a makeover and the gigantic scoreboard planned for the north end of the stadium is nowhere to be found.
Also, I can’t imagine the somewhat flimsy plastic seats really are going to be the final seats considering the sun is going to bake and break them in a year or two.
Still, all in all, the changes made Saturday night in Tempe as memorable as it’s been in a long, long time.