Finishing details added to renovated Stetson stadium before new football team takes field

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DeLAND, Fla. - It's crunch time for construction crews working on a stadium that will be home to Stetson University's new football team.

The team plays its first game at Spec Martin Stadium in DeLand in two weeks and Channel 9's Blaine Tolison got the first look at the newly renovated stadium.

Thousands of alumni are expected in DeLand to watch the university's first football game in 57 years.

"Bringing the alumni back and getting them re-engaged in what we're doing here at Stetson Athletics, football is a huge part of that," said athletic spokesman Ricky Hazel.

DeLand spent $3.6 million on its old municipal stadium with new parking, concession buildings, a locker room, video board and press boxes. Officials said construction is down to the wire due to unexpected engineering changes to the stadium's old foundation.

"It's going to be one of those things where you're going to have to take a deep breath and just get it done and after it's all done, you just sit back and relax and say, 'Wow, we did it," and enjoy the excitement of it," said city spokesman Rick Hall.

The renovated stadium is full of upgrades, including a new filming platform that sits on top of new skyboxes more than 50 feet in the air, overlooking the bleachers which have been at the stadium since the early to mid-1930s.

Stetson officials said the new facility is crucial to the success of football and the university.

"It's all a part of the fan enjoyment of the event and they don't have a good time, they don't have restrooms and conveniences and they won't want to come back and you won't sell tickets," said Hazel.

Officials with the city said the stadium will still have touch-up work to complete, but it will be functional for the big game next Saturday at 7 p.m. vs. Warner University.