November 25, 2012
Summary: This story ran on the front page of the Montgomery Adveritser the day after Alabama State University cut the ribbon on their new football stadium. The article includes comments from some campus leaders who helped make the project possible.
Excitement was in the air Thursday as Alabama State University students, alumni and fans prepared for the school’s first football game in the new $62 million stadium.
By Tuesday, the stadium’s 26,500 seats had been sold out. Thousands of students and fans tailgated in parking lots around the university on the day of the football game. Some even arrived several days early in campers and RVs.
“I think everyone is excited,” said John Knight, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the university. “It’s a dream come true for the ASU Hornets and the entire Hornets family.”
Thursday’s football game was the first one played on campus in 39 years.
Student Government President Kyle Burney, a senior from Mobile, said students on campus have been overwhelmed with excitement for weeks. He said a lot more students have opted to stay on campus during the Thanksgiving break.
“The school spirit is very high,” Burney said. “People are so proud of this stadium. I think it really hit home when they actively got a chance to view it.”
Burney said the “new look” of the stadium has sparked a sense of pride in students this football season. More people are participating in the parade, and students feel the school is moving forward and progressing.
Brianna Moore, a student at ASU, said students taking and posting pictures of the new stadium online has created a lot of buzz.
“I remember when it was first being built. It was nothing but a foundation and dirt,” Moore said. “But now, it looks really nice.”
Montgomery resident Kenny Smith, who planned to go to the game, said he — even though he’d never been a student at the school — was proud of the new stadium.
“I think more people will really want to be (at the stadium) instead of just coming for the game,” Smith said. “They want to go to be in that atmosphere. It’s the spirit of a new stadium.”
LaChunda Cowan of Mobile came to Montgomery to tailgate and go to the game with her family. Her son, Rashun, is a senior at the school and marched with the band in the parade.
Cowan said she tries to come to the Turkey Day Classic every year, but this year is particularly special because of the stadium. She said she’s happy her son will get to experience the stadium as a student before he graduates.
“Kids will want to come back after graduation,” she said. “They can see the school in a new light.”
Knight said the university has been working on getting its own stadium since 1991. Construction on the stadium began in March 2010.
“It’s going to mean so much to the university, so much for recruitment,” Knight said. “And the students are excited about it — to be able to go to a game on campus, like any other university.”
Knight said the state-of-the-art facility not only enhances the university, but it also goes along with the city’s growth and attempt to attract sporting events.
Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange said it’s difficult to put in words what this means for both the school and the city. He said he’s never seen more excitement or pride at any event.
“It’s been a great partnership,” Strange said. “We look forward to great times ahead.”
ASU President Joseph H. Silver said the stadium will serve as an economic driver for the city and will help the school continue to grow.
“This is as much for the community as it is for the campus,” Silver said. “This is a great indicator that the community is 100 percent behind the university.”