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News & Record (Greensboro, North Carolina)
Appalachian State athletics is enveloped in change right now.
Some of those changes are coming right away, and some will start to form in the near future. The waves of development require athletics director Doug Gillin to view progress through many different scopes.
Gillin spoke with reporters on Saturday afternoon following App State's football media day, covering many topics regarding changes to the football gameday experience, updates on projects around Kidd Brewer Stadium and beyond.
Football gameday changes
Fans will recognize one big difference right away: the removable bleachers that sat in front of Owens Fieldhouse won't return for the 2018 season.
That, Gillin said, is because athletics wanted to keep that space so construction on the new fieldhouse can start as soon as the season ends.
In regards to additions, App State will add a beer garden outside of the stadium. Gillin said it will be placed by The Rock, next to the site of the App State pregame show.
"We're trying to create more atmosphere for those folks who might not have a tailgating spot or might not be tailgating, (and might be) visiting or just coming in for a game," Gillin said. "They'll have a place where they can go and listen to the pregame show."
Furthermore, Gillin said, App State will experiment with a child drop-off program for parents. Those football fans who don't want to bring kids into the stadium will be able to drop them off at the Sofield Indoor Practice Facility for a sports clinic with coaches.
Lastly, Gillin said after both the first and final home game of the season, the football team will remain on the field after games to meet and greet with fans.
End zone and west campus projects
Once the season ends, construction will begin on the North End Zone project.
App State's $38-million facility will replace Owens Fieldhouse, creating a new space for day-to-day football activities while also providing luxury seating for gamedays. Currently, according to Gillin, the project is in the advanced planning stage.
On top of that, residential hall construction, providing a major upgrade to the west side of campus, will have started by the time of the first home game against Southern Mississippi on Sept. 15. While construction won't affect many tailgaters for the most part in 2018, Gillin said logistics might become more difficult for 2019, when the project advances.
Once all these projects are finished, Gillin said athletics can start looking beyond. Once the track is gone from Kidd Brewer Stadium, Gillin said the stadium would not be expanding inward.
Athletics wants to add turf in the track's place and provide more practice surface for football. When that is finished, App State can start considering plans for a new indoor facility. That, Gillin said, is two or three years away from being possible. But he would like to have a multi-sport site for a few teams to practice on.
In regard to the stadium, Gillin said athletics will eventually consider how to modify the scoreboard side of the field. Gillin doesn't want to lose the hill, but he said there might be a way to find more seating with some reconfiguration.
"I think the hill is iconic for us, and I kind of like it," he said. "I don't want to put bleachers there right now, but some of the things we've thought about is could you change the slope and bring it down and slope it closer to the field."
Ethan Joyce is a reporter for the Winston-Salem Journal.
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