It's the highlight of the preseason for JMU football fans: the team's annual "Meet the Dukes" Day.
"I just like seeing the players, meeting the parents, spending time with the guys," comments longtime JMU football fan Kathy Landis Saturday.
But this year was about more than autographs and a football scrimmage. Saturday was was also the first chance for fans to check out the renovations at Bridgeforth Stadium.
Their initial reaction?
"Just wow," says Jim Riley. "Just wow."
Landis says, "I thought I was in an NFL, professional stadium."
"It looks like there isn't a bad seat in the house. And I actually went and checked them out, and there isn't a bad seat in the house," says JMU professor Johnathan Walker. "It's awesome. It's really awesome. It's incredible."
The first phase of the two-year, $62 million project included the demolition and complete reconstruction of the west side bleachers. When the final phase is finished prior to next football season, Bridgeforth will be expanded to seat roughly 25,000 JMU fans.
Fans will return to Bridgeforth September 4, when the football team kicks off its season at home against Morehead State. The school is expecting tickets for the game to sell out.
"I think that when people get in here, and get a chance to see this stadium, that we're going to have bigger crowds than ever," says Riley.
"It's going to be outrageous. It's really going to be outrageous," says Walker. "When it's filled up on game day, it's going to be really special."
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