It’s good to be back.
After three months away on sick leave, I came back to find a lot of things have taken place at Youngstown State, both with the athletic facilities and outside the stadium.
When I first walked into Stambaugh Stadium, there was the new scoreboard which sits in the south end of the stadium. Turning around, you find two new flagpoles that have been installed in the north end of the stadium.
This week, construction will begin on the installation of all new chairback seats in the west stands. From what I’ve been told by Associate Athletic Director Rick Love, the old ones are going to be available for sale.
So that chair seat that you’ve sat in since the stadium was built in 1982 can now be your own. Once the old seats have been removed and the new ones are in place, Love will be announcing when they will be going on sale.
Other things that the public doesn’t get a chance to see have been remodeled, including the football offices in the stadium as well as the hallways on both floors of the press box.
All these things do not come cheaply and you can thank YSU Athletic Director Ron Strollo, who has managed to schedule four major money games over the past four years. And there are a couple more already on the future schedule for getting the money to pay for the majority of these additions.
The new scoreboard which is up and working will be a great addition, especially on those early Saturday afternoon games when the sun usually makes it impossible to see the big board in the north end. The new scoreboard stands 12-feet-by-34-feet and was designed by White Way Sign Company.
The two new flagpoles in the north end will hold one huge American Flag and the Ohio state flag, while the four old poles in the south end will hold the four championship banners.
And yes, I checked and there is still room for a couple of more poles to be added in that south end when the Penguins finally bring back another crown.
It’s been 12 years since the Penguins’ last national title, 10 years since they last played in the championship game.
The new chairback seats were supposed to have been replaced a year ago, but some technical problems delayed the project until now. The new chairs are already at the stadium and waiting to be installed. With nearly four weeks before the first home game, that should not be a problem.
The football offices have been renovated for head coach Jon Heacock and his staff. Up the press box, new slate floors have been installed in both hallways. And there have been other renovations which will help keep Stambaugh among the class of the Football Championship Subdivision.
This season, the Penguins will have just five home games, but the university already has made big plans for all five.
This year’s promotional schedule features two State Farm Kids Tailgate Fun Days, two B.J. Alan Phantom Fireworks shows, Homecoming 2009 and Senior Day.
Love announced that the season home opener against Austin Peay on Sept. 12 will feature “Kick-Off ‘09” with a $5 game ticket for all reserved or general admission seats. Fans also may get a free ticket offer for Homecoming with a Giant Eagle Advantage Card.
Season and individual tailgate lot parking passes for the M-24 and M-7 tailgate lots are available through the Athletic Ticket Office.
Area school and youth group leaders should contact the YSU Marketing Department at (330) 941-7227 about complimentary tickets for both of the Kids Day events.
“We’re excited about presenting a full-day of activities for fans at Stambaugh Stadium each Saturday this fall,” Love said.
Love said that there are also numerous fan giveaways planned for the season including the annual Senior Poster, schedule magnets, YSU mouse pads, stadium cups, Pete and Penny commemorative posters and team pictures.
The B.J. Alan Phantom Fireworks shows will follow the Oct. 10 game against Western Illinois. YSU will cap off the pageantry of Homecoming on Halloween against South Dakota State.
The Kids Tailgate Fun Days on Sept. 12 and Oct. 3 will take place three hours prior to kickoff in the M-7 tailgate lot on Fifth Avenue.
These events are free and open to children and adults of all ages. They include bounce-a-round games, football, basketball and other skill games, clowns, face painting, Pete and Penny, and ticket giveaways.
XPete Mollica covers YSU athletics for The Vindicator. Write him at firstname.lastname@example.org.