With less than a week before the Blue Hens kick off the 2019 football season, construction workers are racing against the clock to put the finishing touches on the long-awaited renovations to Delaware Stadium.
Most of the new seats have been installed over the past couple weeks, but crews are still completing elevators, railings and other parts of the work.
The $60 million project, which began in earnest in February, involves upgrades to the west (home) side of the Delaware Stadium, including chair backs for all seats in sections C, D and E; upgraded restrooms and concessions, a new press box, and a stadium club.
Meanwhile, the Whitney Athletic Center is being built in front of the stadium and will include a student success center with space for tutoring, guest lectures and career preparation; a health and wellbeing center with a strength and conditioning space; athletic training facilities; food options; sports psychology areas and hydrotherapy tubs.
While officials are confident everyone will have a seat Thursday evening, some things may not be complete, Athletic Director Chrissi Rawak wrote in a letter to fans.
“While the stadium will be ready to host our first game, it will still be an active construction site throughout the season,” Rawak said. “On Aug. 29, there will be temporary items that will become permanent throughout the season; most notably the railing systems. With each gameday, things will change and parts will become set in place.”
While officials initially said the press box would be done by the start of the season, it has barely been started, and UD instead installed two temporary press boxes in the east stands, forcing the relocation of some season-ticketholders.
As planned all along, the stadium club and Whitney Athletic Center won’t be ready until next season.
The concourse under the west stands will remain closed, and temporary concession stands and bathrooms will be located around the rest of the stadium.
The capacity of the 67-year-old stadium, which formerly accommodated approximately 22,000 people, will drop to 16,730 this year. It will increase to a permanent capacity of 18,309 once the temporary press boxes are removed next year.
Seeking a return to the postseason after breaking their seven-year playoff drought last year, the Blue Hens will kick off the season at 7 p.m. Thursday against Delaware State.