FCS title game stadium's $58M renovation complete
FRISCO, Texas — The $58 million Toyota Stadium facelift is complete and is most recognizable on the south end of the facility, which has been home to the NCAA Division I FCS championship game since the 2010 season.
What looked like a partial construction zone during the title game last January is now a finished product.
A structure that houses the National Soccer Hall of Fame also features a 100-foot bar in an area called the Open Cup Club, which will be open to the public during Saturday's championship game that starts at 11 a.m.
No. 1-ranked North Dakota State (14-0) plays Eastern Washington (12-2) with the Bison having a chance to win their seventh FCS crown in eight seasons.
Jimmy Smith, the chief operating officer for Toyota Stadium, said he's excited to show off the facility upgrades to FCS fans for the first time, and particularly Bison faithful who have attended previous national title games in Frisco.
"Especially with it being the Bison fans that are quite educated with Toyota Stadium," Smith said. “I’m anxious to see what their thoughts are. They haven’t seen it for a year. They get to see all the new bells and whistles.”
The Toyota Stadium renovation took about two years to complete once construction started, Smith said.
“The city of Frisco is very committed to this game," Smith added.
Other in-game differences fans may notice Saturday are new, larger video boards and a new sound system. The completion of the south end has made for a louder game atmosphere as it helps hold more crowd noise in the stadium. Smith said he expects around 20,000 fans at Saturday's championship game.
“The (south) end was completely open. This locks in the sound and we’ve seen it with our soccer matches that it’s much louder," Smith said. "This will be an extremely loud place as opposed to the past. It will be a noticeable difference. ... It will make for a fun atmosphere.”
The suite level on the west side of the stadium has been expanded from 18 to 22 units, including a "super suite." Two new 100-player locker rooms are housed under the stands on the south side of the stadium.
"The building is better prepared for football now," said Tom Burnett, the commissioner of the Southland Conference, which is the league host for the championship game.
Toyota Stadium's south end officially re-opened in early August with an FC Dallas soccer match. The National Soccer Hall of Fame had its first induction weekend in its new home in October. The Hall of Fame experience opened in early November. Smith said the National Soccer Hall of Fame won't be opened this weekend.
“This is the first national sports hall of fame built in an active stadium," Smith said.
The interactive hall of fame soccer experience includes facial recognition and interactive digital video boards. There are also three Women's World Cup trophies on display.
For Saturday's game, the Winners Club on the west side of the stadium is also open to the public. That enclosed area features more beverage, including beer sales, and concession options.
While Major League Soccer's FC Dallas is the facility's main tenant, Smith said the upgrades also had football in mind.
“A large of chunk of (the renovation) is meant for the FCS championship," Smith said. “We want to create a great fan experience. We want fans to keep coming back.”