Irish, fans get "gameday taste" for first time in renovated Notre Dame Stadium
Fans got their chance to see the newly renovated Notre Dame Stadium for the first time on Sunday as the Irish opened the doors for an open practice just 13 days away from the season opener against Temple.
The $400 million, multi-year project is almost totally complete as fans got to take tours of the newly constructed buildings: Duncan Student Center, O'Neill Hall and Corbett Family Hall. Fans were invited to check out the club seating in the 7th and 8th floors as well as the multiple ballrooms that are now featured.
"We wanted to see the new stadium and see what everything was all about," said Irish fan Larry Daher who sat on the 8th floor with his family. "We live about a mile from here and we thought it would be cool to come out and see it."
Daher was impressed.
"Oh I love it, I love it, he said. "It's beautiful. It's gorgeous."
That was a common thought from fans we spoke with.
"We toured upstairs and go to see everything they have going on up there and it's amazing," adds Dowagiac native Jeff Winters. "It's kind of like a blend of the tradition with a lot of the new modern amenities that newer stadiums can offer."
And of course, you can't miss the giant new videoboard.
Even former All-Americans like Tom Gatewood had to come to check things out.
"This place is more like Hollywood than South Bend," Gatewood said. "We have a lot of the bells and whistles. We have the big big board now. Lot of energy. Was just upstairs a little while ago looking at the executive boxes and the event boxes and all the non gameday event areas and it's a little something for everybody. So it's exciting."
Gatewood was an All-American wide receiver for the Irish in the late 60s and early 70s under Ara Parseghian was captain of the 1971 team.
"I think it brings them up to date," Gatewood said when asked if he thought all the improvements were needed. "Media is comfortable, fans are comfortable so it really lets you sit back like you are in your living room and enjoy yourself."
Wooden benches are now out as replaced by vinyl-clad benches that are now wider as well. Notre dame says other enhancements include improvements to the Wi-Fi network and existing sound system within the stadium. Restrooms, concession stands and the concourses have been renovated as well.
For the players, it was an opportunity to have a gameday like atmosphere.
"Obviously it was great to develop those routines that we're going to have on gameday and just an excellent opportunity to get out there on our home field, feel what the atmosphere is going to feel like," said Irish captain and linebacker Drue Tranquill. "Obviously there will be a lot more people but it was just good to get out there, get reps and get better today."
"I think to come out here and be in a game atmosphere in front of the fans and run through the whole routine was huge for us in our preparation for Temple," Irish quarterback Brandon Wimbush adds. "13 days, less than two weeks away, we couldn't be more excited about it."
Wimbush put in a strong performance during the scrimmage completing 14 of 18 passes for 168 yards. Backup quarterback Ian book was solid as well.
There's still work to do between now and Temple but Sunday definitely has the guys ready to go for the the first game.
"You got to think, we've been hitting each other for 17-18 practices--we're hungry to hit someone else," adds captain and linebacker Greer Martini. "We know what they do, they know what we do so it will be good to get out and attack Temple the first game."
Brian Kelly also announced on Sunday that junior running back Josh Adams has been named a captain, defensive line coach Mike Elston was promoted to assistant head coach, and special teams coordinator Brian Polian will now assume Elston's duties as recruiting coordinator.
Notre Dame opens the season September 2nd when they welcome Temple to Notre Dame Stadium for a 3:30pm kickoff. Countdown to Kickoff gets you started at 2pm. You can see it all on WNDU, your home for Notre Dame Football.
There are still tickets available for the season opener. For ticket information, click