Special Report: New ASU stadium progress and start of new era - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Special Report: New ASU stadium progress and start of new era

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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

It's down to the wire for the inaugural debut of Alabama State University's new stadium. It's been an active construction site for nearly 18 months and crews will push it to the limit, literally right up until game time.

"They're working anywhere from 14 to 16 or 18 or more hours a day," Rabren Construction owner Michael Rabren said.

Michael Rabren's construction company is the general contractor for the project. He says everyone is really feeling the pressure.

"It's been a fast track project in a really compressed amount of time. This is really a high profile job. There's a lot banking on it," Rabren said.

As Alabama State University brings football back to campus after 39 years at Cramton Bowl.

"It's a testament that our alumni are happy that we are giving them something that they can be proud of.

First term ASU president's Dr. Joseph Silver, Jr. credits his predecessors for the vision of this multipurpose complex serving as an economic driver for the community and state. He says it will truly be a homecoming for supporters, students and alumni; like 1959 ASU graduate John Sawyer, Jr.

"I did not envision this at all. That old feeling comes back," Sawyer, Jr. said.

He remembers the old stadium on campus and reflects on the atmosphere when he was a student.

"Everybody sat on side of the field. They had temporary bleachers for the visiting team. The team dressed and came out of the basement of Lockhart gym. The visiting team came out the same exit," Sawyer Jr. said.

Rainey hHpkins is arguably ASU's number one fan.

"I wear ASU gear everyday. People are very excited and we are looking forward to this day," Hopkins said.  

This 1975 graduate says she is overwhelmed by the progress and the chance to actually cheer on her team at home.

"Just enjoying it and seeing it form from the ground up," Hopkins said.  

We remember all the dirt and the big hole. We watched as workers constructed the stadium seating and laid the foundation for the field. It begin to take shape and it started looking more like a stadium. The turf was put down and the striping started, until the field was complete and ready for players to practice on November 13th.

Inside the new stadium, workers could be seen moving in furniture and working to finish the suites and club level seating and lounge.

 "It's passing the baton from one generation to the next. And so now we have to protect that legacy and make sure we are operate it in the best way and that we make this facility something that all of Montgomery and all of Alabama can be proud of," Dr. Silver said.

This $62 million dollar stadium is being financed through bonds. Now the president's hopes supporters will bring the same excitement to the stadium's fundraising effort that will soon be launched.

 "So therefore we are going to be knocking on doors, business, and in the community, legislators saying invest in and partner with ASU," Dr. Silver said.

As the university embarks on a new era on their home turf.

The president tells WSFA 12 News the field has been named, but officials aren't ready to release it to media. At last check, the university reported less than 50 game tickets left.

The ribbon cutting will be after the Hornet walk on Thursday which starts at 12:15 p.m.

We have an entire section on www.wsfa.com dedicated to the ins and outs of the turkey day classic game and its festivities. Look for the banner at the top of our homepage. We will also have live special coverage all day Wednesday and Thursday.

Copyright 2012  WSFA 12 News.  All rights reserved.

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