STANFORD — Anyone ever heard of home-field advantage?

Not around Stanford they haven't, at least not in recent years.

That's a situation about to change. The new Stanford Stadium, a 50,000-seat structure on the same site where the historic 85,000-seat behemoth previously sat, is on schedule to open Sept.16 for Stanford's home opener against Navy.

With the seats closer to the field and an enclosed configuration that will keep in the sound, it's going to be loud.

"If Stanford had this stadium last year they would've beat UCLA," said ESPN analyst Rod Gilmore, a former Stanford and Skyline High player. "They wouldn't have gotten three touchdowns in the last (seven) minutes."

The Bruins rallied from a 24-3 deficit to win 30-27 in overtime. The attendance was 42,850, meaning there were nearly as many empty seats as occupied ones. And if UCLA had not come back to win that game, Stanford would have finished 6-5 rather than 5-6, and gone to a bowl game.

A pretty big difference.

"To have the crowd with you, right next to you, gives us a chance to play on an even field with our opponents," Bill Walsh said.

With the track removed, the distance from the first seat to the field has been reduced from 115 feet to 45 feet.from Sports 1

The media was given a preview Tuesday of the nearly completed stadium. The turf was installed Aug.


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16, the field watered and mowed for the presentation.

"As good as this looks, they all look better full," athletic director Bob Bowlsby said. "It will certainly be fun seeing this place full with the Stanford faithful. The Navy game will be a sellout. The USC game will be a sellout. We're 136 percent ahead to date from where we were last year. Our committed tickets are just over 37,000 at the current time."

The project is in the 39th week of a 42-week timetable. It's a privately financed $90 million project.

Bowlsby just arrived on the job at Stanford, July 10. He came from Iowa, where he served as athletic director for 15 years.

"I've spent the last 25 years in a public university," Bowlsby said. "Part of that time we spent doing a $100 million renovation of Kinnick Stadium. If this project was undertaken at a public university, no question that it wouldn't have gotten done in 10 months. And it would've been $300 million if it was a penny."

Stanford is counting on the stadium to provide a home-field advantage during games and to help attract prospective players.

"It's going to help recruiting, and that's always our toughest job," said assistant athletic director and Stanford career rushing leader Darrin Nelson. Perhaps most important is what it says about commitment.

"There are about 50 teams that compete for a national championship every year," Nelson said. "You've got to decide if you want to be one of those 50 teams. With this stadium, we can. This stadium can do wonders for our program."

NOTES: The new stadium provides a significant upgrade in amenities. There are more restrooms and more offerings at the concession stands. Media members were invited to sample cheese and spinach cannelloni, pulled pork sandwich, the Cardinal fajita bowl, Saag's sausages and the Farm Dog, an organic hot dog, which is intended to be the signature offering. ... A 1,000 square-foot Stadium Shop, offering Stanford merchandise, is also in the stadium. ... A "Select Your Seat Sale" will take place Sept.10 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Prospective seat buyers can come into the stadium, sit in available seats and purchase the seats, if desired.