Texas State is less than two months away from kicking-off the 2012 season, a unique and special year that has been highly anticipated.
The 2012 season will be their first in the FBS and will also be the first in their revamped home: an expanded Bobcat Stadium with a capacity of 30,000, doubling their previous total. The project is on schedule and slated to be completed by August 1.
“There’s a lot of work that still needs to be done,” said Derek Grice, assistant athletic director. “We have a really good partner in Austin Commercial. They’ve done a great job with all the projects in the past.”
The crane, debris and construction equipment have been visible in the vacant parking lot next to Jim Wacker Field for more than a year now and are currently expected to be cleared up in time for the fall. It has been a long journey from breaking ground to now, and Coach Dennis Franchione said he appreciates those who helped get Texas State to where the university is today.
“It’s necessary and parallel to the football program,” Franchione said. “(The expansion) illustrates the commitment from the university to the players. It shows what growth can do and how it helps in joining the FBS level.”
Although there is still work to be done, Franchione said he cannot help but get excited for the bigger, potentially louder venue. Franchione calls for the student body to be as large as its enrollment.
“As large as our (student body) is among Division I schools, certainly if we could get a large percentage of our students to come out, it would create a home field advantage,” Franchione said. “They are important to our football players. They want their student body to be a part of it. The players use it as motivation.”
Last season there was no designated student section, but the East side grandstands were available for free to students with a valid Texas State ID and were available for general admission seating. There is a designated student section in the new stadium seating chart that will roughly seat 5,000 students, according to Grice.
Despite increased costs to the athletic department, Grice does not see free seats for students going away anytime soon.
“I believe that our students, with the passing of the referendum to help us move to the FBS, have been a huge impact on our athletic program and have provided us the foundation to continue to grow as an athletic department. I can’t speak to long term but I can tell you I don’t see (charging students admission) being an issue in the near future.”
Franchione did not shy away from saying that this may not be the last of the expansions for Bobcat Stadium.
“If (certain) things happen, I think expansion could be possible,” Franchione said. “Expansion is never a need unless it’s possible and those factors are there.”
Grice commented that attendance numbers would fuel a next expansion project, but that all he is worried about is getting the North Side Complex completed.
Other projects and renovations will be made to the East and West sides of Bobcat Stadium with an expected completion date of September 1.
Follow Jordan Brewer on Twitter: @jbrewer32