TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Doak Campbell Stadium’s facelift is beginning to take shape.
Construction on the new Champions Club in the south end zone is well underway and on schedule, which means that the new, luxury addition will make its debut when the Florida State football team hosts Charleston Southern on Sept. 9.
Workers from Childers Construction – the same company that built FSU’s Indoor Practice Facility in 2013 – recently poured more than 100 yards of concrete in what will be an indoor sports bar and restaurant area.
The framework for two levels of chair-back seats is now being installed and, before long, there will be an overhead canopy that brings the stadium’s south end zone seating 24 feet closer to the field.
It’s beginning to feel less like a construction site and more like a premium stadium club.
“We had an idea for the project,” said Jerry Kutz, senior vice president of capital campaign and Projects at Seminole Boosters, “and the architects drew it, and now you’re seeing it coming out of the ground.
“And it’s just exactly like you imagined it would be.”
Seminoles Boosters is confident that FSU fans will be thrilled when that vision comes to full fruition.
In addition to its 5,800 new outdoor seats, the Champions Club will feature a number of indoor amenities that will not only make for a more comfortable game-day experience, but also a desirable location for regional conferences, weddings and other private functions.
Kutz said the club would be available for use – and able to generate revenue – 360 days a year.
“The pros are trying to figure out how to activate their stadiums year-round,” he said. “We are doing it.”
Six high-speed elevators, four kitchens and a 500-pound smoker for barbecue have been added to the existing home of the University Center Club, which will manage the Champions Club.
There will also be a multi-purpose ballroom and enough bar areas to staff 80 bartenders.
“What we’re building here, I think it’s the most unique club of its kind in college or pro football, “Kutz said. As it is both a great game day facility and a dynamic conference center the community has needed for year-round use.”
Seminoles Boosters, as well as the FSU Athletics Department, believes that the Champions Club is a necessary evolution as fans discover newer and better ways to watch live sports.
High-definition television has made an impact on stadium attendance, and as TVs have gotten bigger and broadcast coverage more thorough, many fans have been tempted to stay home and catch the games from their couch.
The Champions Club, FSU believes, will give fans more reasons to come to the stadium and enjoy the game-day experience.
“It’s exciting,” FSU athletics director Stan Wilcox said, “to have people be able to come and enjoy our game and be able to get the same amenities that they could potentially get if they were to stay home and have their big widescreen TV there with their refrigerator right next to them and all the amenities of home.
“That’s basically what we’re creating.”
That creation, of course, requires work that’s nearly round-the clock.
Construction began almost immediately after the clock hit zero in FSU’s final home game of the 2015 season.
And Jason Gassett, Childers’ project manager for the Champions Club, said his crew is working 10 hours per day, six days per week.
Make that seven days if they lose any time to rain.
“It’s been a challenge. Every project is that way, though,” Gassett said. “There’s a lot of front-end work just to get to where you’ve got to start. It’s been a lot of work, but it’s kind of normal.”
Childers’ work extends beyond the Champions Club, too.
They’re also water blasting the old paint off of about 400,000 square feet of bleacher decking, remediating any rust found beneath the paint, welding structural supports, repairing areas of the concourse, resealing any leaks within the stadium and applying three coatings to protect the stadium seating decks.
And – perhaps most importantly – they’re performing maintenance on existing restrooms.
“The beautiful thing about it,” Kutz said, “is the revenue being generated by the sale of Champions Club seating is funding the improvements you’re seeing in the rest of the stadium.”
Although the season is still several months away, sales for the club are ahead of schedule. Seminole fans who wish to choose their seats in the April 4-8 seat selection process have until Feb. 29 to make their reservation.
Fans will be able to see the view from seat and to pick their individual seats, down to the section, row and location in the Champions Club.
“It’s a rare opportunity,” Kutz said. “Imagine at Doak Campbell stadium, if we just said, ‘OK, we’re going to take a selection process where you can pick any seat you want in Doak.’ It would be awesome, wouldn’t it?
“So this is that opportunity for the Champions Club. You can select your seat. If you’d like an aisle seat, you have a great opportunity to pick it. And then that’s your seat. And as long as you renew it, you get to stay in that seat.”
To reserve a spot in the Champions Club and follow construction progress via live webcam, visit FSUClubSeats.com