From the large brick arches, to the finishes in the boosters' lounges, to the details on the concourses, the new Amon G. Carter Stadium is a celebration of Fort Worth history.
Workers are finalizing the $164 million renovation just in time for TCU's season-opener Saturday against Grambling State, and fans are likely to be impressed.
The west side grandstands, once the lone towering aspect of the previous iteration, stand even taller, casting an imposing view over double-decker seating in the north end zone and east side grandstands. Every seat in the 45,000-seat stadium is closer to the field.
"There's not a nicer facility in America," athletic director Chris Del Conte said. "There might be bigger stadiums, but none finer. Everyone who has toured the stadium has been blown away."
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The 25 suites, including the six founders' suites, offer TCU's benefactors unrivaled views, said Bryan Trubey, senior vice president at HKS, the architectural firm that designed the stadium.
"There's nothing like it in the country right now," said Trubey, whose firm also designed Cowboys Stadium, the American Airlines Center and Victory Plaza and UT Arlington's College Park Center. "You get this phenomenal view. The closeness is unprecedented. It's very unique. Very much like TCU, they just wanted the highest quality, the highest value in a stadium. That's never been done in college football."
The history of Fort Worth and the university are featured throughout the stadium, including near the Founders' Plaza, where monuments pay tribute to the six boosters who gave $15 million each to start the fundraising campaign in January 2010.
When the stadium opened in 1930, high costs forced designers to scrap their plans for an extensive southwest art deco design. But now much of that style has been incorporated into the renovations, giving the towering facades the arched elegance of a bygone era.
"The way we've been able to connect with the original vision of the city of Fort Worth and the history is striking," said Ross Bailey, TCU athletic director of operations, who has overseen the construction the last 21 months. "We've maintained the university's look with the architecture and the arches and some of the art deco features. All of that was exactly what we've been looking for."
Purple-accented lighting will glow at night on the walls. Outside the west side gates, geographic markers commemorate Fort Worth circa 1930. A streak of blue light signifies the Trinity River and markers pay homage to the city's railroad heritage and historic Fort Worth streets. Near the founders' monuments, bluish-purple solar-powered lights glow from the ground.
"When somebody comes here we want them to be in the presence of every important part of the history, not just of the athletic program here, but the local culture, local history," Trubey said. "Those are the things that build institutions like TCU. It's not just the university itself, but the very unique relationship with the city and the geography and all the important cultural and historical events that the university was a part of."
TCU's game Saturday -- the first as a Big 12 Conference team -- has historic event stamped all over it. A win will give coach Gary Patterson his 110th victory, surpassing TCU legend Dutch Meyer on the school's all-time-wins list. "It's just amazing that all this happens at once," Patterson said during his Tuesday media luncheon. "Hopefully, all those things turn out to be positives so I can check them off and we can move forward and into the season."
Fans probably share Patterson's desire to get the season going after a first-week bye. The Frogs finished 11-2 in their final season in the Mountain West Conference. A new era begins this weekend, on the field and in the stands.
A dedication ceremony is scheduled for 1 p.m. Thursday, followed by an open house from 1:30 to 3 p.m., giving the public its first up-close look at the stadium.
Stefan Stevenson, 817-390-7760
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