Merlo Field vs. Fetzer Field

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Merlo Field vs. Fetzer Field

Post by PilotNut on Mon Jun 30, 2008 9:24 pm

I was in Chapel Hill, NC over the weekend and spent some time walking around the nice UNC campus... but I made sure that I stopped by Fetzer Field to check it out... the home of the UNC Soccer. (I also did my fair share of sweating in the hot humid climate...)

I have to say I was underwhelmed. I thought the facility would be more exciting, when in fact it was a bit run down and very much just a large section of bleachers on one side of a field surrounded by a Carolina Blue running track... it looks like soccer has to share the field with the UNC track & field teams, and maybe lacrosse, too... There was a big sign listing all their National Championship years (impressive), but that was it. There was no sense of awe... and the area is pretty much wide open, so I cant imagine there is much "atmosphere" during the games.

My point: Merlo Field rocks! We are fortunate to have such a great facility for fans, athletes and impressing recruits! Cool

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Re: Merlo Field vs. Fetzer Field

Post by Geezaldinho on Mon Jun 30, 2008 10:13 pm

Yeah, I was there for a game a couple years ago and was unimpressed. not a great crowd, either.
Periodically rumors arise of a new dedicated facility or upgrade, but I don't think anything concrete is in the works.
They do play some games at SAS field, or whatever it's called nowadays. That's a pretty nice facility, but it needs a good crowd to make it come alive.

Your right -- The CCSC rocks! There are only a couple places in the country that can even compare.... and nobody can touch us when there's a real Merlo crowd on hand.

I love the place.

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Re: Merlo Field vs. Fetzer Field

Post by SoreKnees on Tue Jul 01, 2008 11:34 am

I totally agree about Merlo. Are there any plans to expand the seating capacity? It would be nice to get the Final Four back here, but I can't imagine them giving it to us with only 5,000 seats. There aren't many places to expand on the site, but maybe the end zone seats and the "far side" could add a few rows.

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yeah

Post by Geezaldinho on Tue Jul 01, 2008 12:22 pm

Maybe something like this.... Wink


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Re: Merlo Field vs. Fetzer Field

Post by PilotNut on Tue Jul 01, 2008 12:25 pm

Expansion... They could extend the main grandstand to run end line to end line... or add another end zone section at the other end....

I always thought that they built Merlo Field backwards; the main grandstand seems like it should have been on the Chiles Center side (especially since it was originally built without bathrooms) and the "smaller" side farther away, leaving room for future expansion...

I believe when the plans first came out for the recent renovation that there were discussions of additional seating... I havent heard anything since...?

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Hmm...

Post by Geezaldinho on Tue Jul 01, 2008 2:50 pm

Well, A look at the plans and website doesn't show any actual seating expansion , nor does the text mention it.
I think there has been some casual conversation in the "wouldn't it be nice" vein. and some talk of expanding the seating in the end zone was mentioned in a conversation about moving the baseball stadium and replacing it with a training facility. That's probably way down the road, though. The NCAA guidelines call for a 10,000 seat stadium for the finals, though they might accept as small as 7,000-8,000.

plans are up at CCSC.htm

This picture does show the seating on the student side a bit closer to match the rest of the venue, and the gap at midfield is almost gone.


You could get another 10 rows or so in if you did. You could get a few more rows in and have fans closer to the action if you eliminated the wide walkway in front and used more portcullis entries instead like at St John's Belson Stadium.
Those guy's built their stadium on a parking garage.
It also eliminates the problem of having restless folks
walking in your sight-lines during the action.


All that might just be some artists carelessness.The seating should be raised, though, IMO.

The end Zone seating could be extended back a little by covering up that walkway in back and maybe getting rid of the trees and the 20 or so parking spots that are there. All that would probably require some additional fire exits so people could leave the stadium more easily.

And yes, you could add "wings" to the main stands, but then how am I going to drink beer in the Pilot Club and watch the game?
Any future plans should include permanent camera platforms that don't interfere with sight lines.
the cushy skyboxes are another problem.. I am available for a modest consultation fee.

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Re: Merlo Field vs. Fetzer Field

Post by KFTC on Tue Jul 01, 2008 3:57 pm

I agree about Fetzer--it's kind of a dump.

I disagree about the expansion of Merlo. If you add another 2,000-5,000 seats, you run the risk of ruining the best part of watching a game there, which is the closeness you feel to the field. It becomes big and impersonal, similar to Buck Shaw Stadium, UNC Greensboro, or even the stadium in Austin, Texas. If you ask any player their one of their favorite things about playing on Merlo, it's being close to the fans and the intimate nature of the setting. It's also great because on the days when not as many fans come out, or when one of the teams is having an off year and the fans aren't there, 1,500 people still looks like A LOT of people in that stadium and there's still an energy and a buzz the players can feel.

That's just my opinion, though. Valid points about hosting the championship were raised, but that's why we need the Timbers to do well...so an MLS team will come in here and put some money into developing PGE or another facility that could host the NCAA tournament in the future.

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Re: Merlo Field vs. Fetzer Field

Post by Geezaldinho on Tue Jul 01, 2008 4:20 pm

KFTC wrote:
I disagree about the expansion of Merlo. If you add another 2,000-5,000 seats, you run the risk of ruining the best part of watching a game there, which is the closeness you feel to the field. It becomes big and impersonal, similar to Buck Shaw Stadium, UNC Greensboro, or even the stadium in Austin, Texas.
....
Valid points about hosting the championship were raised, but that's why we need the Timbers to do well...so an MLS team will come in here and put some money into developing PGE or another facility that could host the NCAA tournament in the future.


That' why the 7,00 - 8,000 number sounds nice. I think you could add that many seats without substantially affecting the feel of the place.
It sure would make the place rock when it's full, too. Placing the fans as close to the field as possible a lá St John's makes even a small crowd seem loud.
It would be particularly attractive for the school if some of those seats were the high dollar stadium - type seats to bring in extra revenue. You could bring in another 150K with just 5 sellouts. We all want UP Soccer to stay the best in the country. The money to do that has to come from somewhere.


Another NCAA requirement is that the host team has to play at least some of its regular season games in the venue.
That seems to be ignored, however, as UNC has hosted games in SAS without playing there during the season, and USC hosted a game in the LA coliseum last year.

I don't know if the University would want to play off campus, however. Part of the branding of UP soccer is to play in Merlo.

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Re: Merlo Field vs. Fetzer Field

Post by FANatic on Tue Jul 01, 2008 6:25 pm

Wow! Lots of great ideas guys and gals.

I agree that Merlo is wonderful as is, and doing nothing is not a terrible option. The upgrades over the last couple years, and the final one yet to come (WHEN?), are/will be really 1st class. The lighted field is huge, and the practice pitch extremely impressive. Plus the other updates so far have all been really neat. (Yeah, that's what I said: NEAT.)

I wouldn't mind the 7-8,000 expansion idea and the additional revenue would certainly help keep the program one of the nation's best. But it just has to keep that close, intimate feel or forget it. Merlo is wonderful for all the right reasons. It's just gotta stay that way.

Do we really need to host the NCAA College Cup? Sure, it would be nice, but not if we have to play a few home games away from Merlo, (the MLS site idea). Or if we expand to 10,000 and lose the special intimacy and wonder of a Pilots game at Merlo, with the fans screaming their hearts out for their team.

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a couple problems

Post by Geezaldinho on Tue Jul 01, 2008 7:04 pm

With the MLS-Timbers plan.

I think we could play At PGE/Civic/Whatever for the finals if we went in with PSU to host (and local soccer clubs). The official host this coming year is UNC Chapel Hill and another school, (UNC Greensboro, I think). Local clubs help with manpower and logistics/practice facilities.

The big problem is that any MLS field would almost certainly be Turf, and the NCAA right now has a position of preferring Grass fields. Right now, teams can refuse to play on Turf if they don't normally play on the surface and have a strong objection.

More teams play their games on Turf each year, so that may change. Already for field hockey (and I think LaCrosse), Turf is the preferred/desired surface.

And I still think if we hosted, the University would prefer to do it on campus.

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Re: Merlo Field vs. Fetzer Field

Post by KFTC on Tue Jul 01, 2008 9:15 pm

The other problem with adding seating and/or hosting the College Cup is just where in the heck everyone is going to park. The campus and the surrounding streets are already stretched at the stadium's current capacity, and doubling its' capacity will surely stress an already tenuous relationship with the University Park Neighborhood.

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Re: Merlo Field vs. Fetzer Field

Post by PurplePrideTrumpet on Tue Jul 01, 2008 9:54 pm

I think Stonehouse said something about a garage on the new land below the bluff in our discussion on the development plans.

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Re: Merlo Field vs. Fetzer Field

Post by Geezaldinho on Tue Jul 01, 2008 9:55 pm

KFTC wrote:The other problem with adding seating and/or hosting the College Cup is just where in the heck everyone is going to park. The campus and the surrounding streets are already stretched at the stadium's current capacity, and doubling its' capacity will surely stress an already tenuous relationship with the University Park Neighborhood.

The assumption is that the lower fields will belong to UP after the environmental issues are solved. a parking garage somewhere down there will be the ultimate solution.

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Re: Merlo Field vs. Fetzer Field

Post by KFTC on Tue Jul 01, 2008 11:36 pm

And the school will pay to bus people up the hill to Merlo? Because I've actually gone up and down that hill a few times on foot, and it's not a pleasant experience. Wink

Don't get me wrong, stadium expansion sounds great and I'm not trying to rain on anyone's parade...but there are a lot of logistical mountains to climb to get Merlo to the point you are talking about. Getting the field lit was a 10-year process, in and of itself. Expanding the bleachers backwards on either sideline either eats up the practice field with that sparkly new FieldTurf field or puts the Chiles Center on shaky grounds with the fire and building codes and how far existing structures are allowed to expand before going out of compliance with those codes.

I guess all I'm saying is don't get your hopes up. It would be easier to build a new stadium on the land down by the river, and I think a lot of people would be disappointed to lose Merlo and all the history in that place for a new stadium. You just have to be careful what you wish for, because bigger does not necessarily make a place better.

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NO! NO!

Post by Geezaldinho on Tue Jul 01, 2008 11:58 pm

We won't have to go up and down the hill--

Just the people in the cheap seats will Very Happy Very Happy

I agree the fire issues are probably the biggest thing, but I think they can be solved.
Another reason I don't think you'll see 10,000 - more like 7500, and probably not all at once.

The key to keeping the crowds coming is to have more season tickets. It's pretty hard to sell bleacher seats as season tickets, so they are going to have to do something. I'm sure they could have sold more this year if they had a place to put people.

I don't think anyone has considered moving Merlo or the new field, but the far side seating is pretty inefficient as it stands, and the end zone can be pushed out a little and made more efficient, too. For example, there is a wide walkway at the front of he bleachers that is closed off during the game - that could be filled with revenue seats, and they'd be great ones!

And I don't think it will negatively impact what we love about the place.

I actually measured the room on the far side last year. With some creative work, you could get almost as many seats on the far side as there are on the Bench side. Remember, seats on that side are further from the field. I propose putting seats right on the wall. They'd be better seats than the current main stands. you could even re-use some of the aluminum/steel bleachers, though not all.

I picked Belson stadium for a reason. there are 2300 seats (mostly stadium) in almost the same space as the Student side at Merlo, assuming you moved the front of the seating forward to match the rest of the stadium. and look at how close the first row is!



Newer pictures show skyboxes and a press box. and two skinny end zone stands expanded their capacity to 3000

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Re: Merlo Field vs. Fetzer Field

Post by aleppiek on Wed Jul 02, 2008 7:01 am

My understanding is exactly as several of you have mentioned. The University would love to expand, and add a few seats, but the parking is insufficient. If/When the lower land cleanup occurs I have heard rumblings that the Baseball stadium would be taken to the waterfront, the baseball field would become a parking garage, and at least part of the current parking lot would be made additional greenspace. Don't worry geez you wont have to climb any hills.

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Re: Merlo Field vs. Fetzer Field

Post by Stonehouse on Wed Jul 02, 2008 10:10 am

While expansion would be fine with me if they added some seats on the student side where that gap was and maybe even down into the corner where the Pilot Club tent is set up on the grandstand side, I would much prefer to see the current seats spruced up a bit first. I think the whole stadium in general could use some sprucing up, especially the signs and the bench backs.

I just don't see the need for expanding a ton. There are only a few games per year that are true sellouts, and we already have lead the nation in attendance for three straight years... despite being 1200 under capacity. If we were averaging 4700 fans every game, sure - expanding would make a ton of sense. But since we still aren't even at 4000 yet, I think a better use of resources would be to spruce up what we've already got!

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Re: Merlo Field vs. Fetzer Field

Post by aleppiek on Thu Jul 03, 2008 11:49 am

Well folks, it appears that the painting of the dome has commenced, looking forward to seeing a big Purple P on the dome between the trees.

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Re: Merlo Field vs. Fetzer Field

Post by Stonehouse on Thu Jul 03, 2008 11:50 am

YESSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Best news I've heard in a long, long time!

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Re: Merlo Field vs. Fetzer Field

Post by PilotNut on Thu Jul 03, 2008 11:54 am

Just a hint to those around campus... pictures are worth a thousand words...!! Wink

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Re: Merlo Field vs. Fetzer Field

Post by Geezaldinho on Thu Jul 03, 2008 12:09 pm

PilotNut wrote:Just a hint to those around campus... pictures are worth a thousand words...!! Wink

noted

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Re: Merlo Field vs. Fetzer Field

Post by FANatic on Fri Jul 04, 2008 9:02 am

Great news about the dome. sunny

Anyone know anything about when construction on Phase 3 begins? You know, the finishing of CCSC with Clive's statue and all the classy upgrades between the stadium and Chiles?
Last thing I heard, it was being delayed because of lack of finances.
But I thought it was already paid for in a gift from the school to the soccer program(?). scratch

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Re: Merlo Field vs. Fetzer Field

Post by Stonehouse on Fri Jul 04, 2008 12:34 pm

Ask and ye shall receive:





Just hopped on the Schwinn and took them today. Wasn't expecting it to drizzle on me, but I actually saw that there were guys working there when I showed up. So clearly they aren't delaying much now that it's started, what with them working on the 4th.

Coincidentally, a Mexican league team who played the Timbers last night (I'm too lazy to look it up) was there practicing, so I was able to get into Merlo and take pics from the grandstand. You can't see it too well, but there were a few spots where they had put down some samples of purple. I also bumped into the man, the myth, the legend Bill Reed while on campus, and he said that the P is going to be pretty huge.

I can't wait to see it!

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uh-ohh

Post by Geezaldinho on Fri Jul 04, 2008 12:43 pm

I'd better order up those 99% prescription glasses right away. It looks to me like we'll all be doing lots of squinting until the cloud cap comes back later in the fall.

Nice job, Stoney.

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Re: Merlo Field vs. Fetzer Field

Post by Stonehouse on Fri Jul 04, 2008 1:00 pm

I know what you mean about the squinting, Geezer! I can't imagine how bright the reflection would have been if it were clear skies. But it looked to me like this is just a base/primer coat, and I think the final color will be more off white, because as it is right now... it's WHITE. I think in the end it will be more oatmeal or eggshell or whatever those paint color names. Smile

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