The field looks the exact same, but there’s a newness to Ohio Stadium. The 92-year-old venue is undergoing a $13.7 million renovation that includes a new playing surface, 2,522 new seats in south stands, permanent lights and concrete waterproofing.
Ohio Stadium was built in 1922 at a cost of $1.34 million. During its first 80 years of existence, the Horseshoe was relatively untouched. In 2001, a two-year, $194 million renovation was completed. The track was removed and the field was lowered. Suites, a new press box, permanent south stands and a state-of-the-art scoreboard were also added.
The seating capacity rose more than 10,000 to 101,568. For the 2014 season, the capacity will be 104,581. But it currently has about 80,000 seats due to a portion of east side seats being removed for waterproofing.
Whether the stadium’s expansion possibilities have been maxed out or not remains unclear.
“We haven’t really looked into too much of that,” associate athletic director for facilities Dan Patko said. “We have done a few studies for premium seating and things like that, but we really haven’t studied it that closely.”
The additions to south stands will keep the horseshoe shape intact, leaving a 12-15-foot gap in the southeast and southwest corners.
“We tried to be real careful with that, which is why we did what we did with the tunnels,” athletic director Gene Smith said last year. “(The east and west sides) actually won’t connect. There was a sensitivity to that.”
The new tunnel connected to Ohio State’s home locker room in the southeast corner of the stadium will include a red awning with the logo and “Home of the Buckeyes” adorned to it.
Rubber pellets from the old field were taken out with an industrial vacuum and packaged in 300 large bags. They will then be transferred into the new field, which has the same markings — red end zones, Big Ten logos, etc.
The project’s deadline is Aug. 14, but Patko said a window is open to complete the renovations up until the first game, Sept. 6 versus Virginia Tech.
“We’re excited,” Patko said. “We have a very good group of contractors.”