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Bison playing in Cal Poly's $21.5M renovated stadium

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. - Today may be North Dakota State's last regular season visit to Alex G. Spanos Stadium, at least in the foreseeable future. It's as if California Poly is throwing a big going-away party.

Alex G. Spanos Stadium

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. - Today may be North Dakota State's last regular season visit to Alex G. Spanos Stadium, at least in the foreseeable future. It's as if California Poly is throwing a big going-away party.

An expected record crowd is expected for the 6:05 p.m. (CST) kickoff between the No. 1-ranked Bison and their Great West Football Conference foe. NDSU is leaving the league after this season. Capacity is 11,075, but more are expected to cram the intimate setting.

A $21.5 million renovation project greeted the Poly football team this year and the transformation is striking. A new facility of stands, suites and press box has turned an embarrassing stadium into a serviceable Division I field.

"It's changed the experience of going to a game," said Cal Poly athletic director Alison Cone. "You feel like you're part of something big time."

The back of the new seats were built over California Avenue, a main thoroughfare lined with palm trees that runs through campus. Efforts to close the road failed, so architects designed the bleachers to cover the road creating a tunnel-like effect.

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Head football coach Rich Ellerson said he would have liked to have seen more seats.

"But we have ourselves quite a gig," he said Friday.

Spanos, the owner of the San Diego Chargers, donated $8 million to the project. He was a student at Cal Poly but never graduated there.

Cone said she's not sure how long the project has been in the works - "Twenty years?" she said with a laugh - but the bulk of the work has come in the last five or six years.

The locals say the season-opening crowd against Weber State was one of the most enthusiastic they've even seen at a Mustang game. It will most likely be that way again today. Homecoming is always a big deal in San Luis Obispo.

"These guys know it's a big game," Ellerson said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack's NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com Bison playing in Cal Poly's $21.5M renovated stadium Jeff Kolpack 20071110

Jeff would like to dispel the notion he was around when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, but he is on his third decade of reporting with Forum Communications. The son of a reporter and an English teacher, and the brother of a reporter, Jeff has worked at the Jamestown Sun, Bismarck Tribune and since 1990 The Forum, where he's covered North Dakota State athletics since 1995.
Jeff has covered all nine of NDSU's Division I FCS national football titles and has written three books: "Horns Up," "North Dakota Tough" and "Covid Kids." He is the radio host of "The Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack" April through August.
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