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Logan • Not long ago, when Utah State coaches brought recruits to campus for official visits, they spent as little time as possible touring the school's woeful football facilities.
The locker and weight rooms were lacking. The medical areas were closet-like. Even the stadium, though functional, was showing signs of age.
For many young players seeking somewhere to prosper, the place was a football wasteland. For most of the head coaches who entered and left through a revolving door, it was a graveyard.
Fortunately for the Aggies, times change.
When Utah State opens its new season against Weber State on Sept. 1, a $36 million renovation project to Maverik Stadium will be complete.
After 15 months of determined work, the school has finally reached the finish line in a decade-long trek to make its football facilities competitive.
"It's a whole body transformation, not just a face-lift," Aggie coach Matt Wells said. "Any of us who have been around here for a long time, it's a tremendous thing. It shows commitment."
The construction project added 24 luxury suites, 24 loge suites, 700 club seats and a new press box to Maverik Stadium. Total capacity is now 25,100. Also included: a rebuilt concourse, new concessions and restroom areas and two video scoreboards one four times bigger than its predecessor.
Those who rebuilt Maverik Stadium like the way things turned out.
"It's been a fun one and we're very pleased with the outcome," said Okland Construction project director Jared Francom. "It's a great looking building. … It's astounding how it has transformed this whole area."
The work went smoothly, after one early roadblock.
"It was a complex project due to some up-front soil issues," Francom said. "We were restricted on some design elements. The soils were such that it created issues from a construction standpoint. We spent several months working with the design team on that."
Still, Okland completed the project on schedule and the Aggies, who played around the construction last season, will have a remodeled home waiting for them when they face Weber State.
"For us as players, it's motivation," said junior linebacker Alex Huerta. "It's like, 'We need to go out and put a show on for the crowd and for all of Cache Valley for everybody.' We're blessed to be where we are. We realize that every day."
According to USU athletic director John Hartwell, the luxury suites are sold out. Only one loge suite remains and he expects it to be sold before the season opener. "Some inventory" remains on the ends of the new club seating section.
"It may not be the biggest premium seating area in the country, but I'd put our facility up against anyone as far as amenities and closeness to the playing field," Hartwell said. "… You are right on top the action."
The renovations will be a boost for Utah State's fans and coaches, who can now recruit to a facility that is at least equal to any in the Mountain West Conference.
"What it does is enhance the game-day atmosphere," Hartwell said. "The experience for our fans will be off the charts. And it's important to note that won't be for just the ticket-purchasers in the suites and club seating areas."
He noted the new scoreboards, concession areas and restroom facilities will improve the Utah State football experience "for everyone."
"It's what I refer to as the Wow Factor," Hartwell said. "To be a success consistently in recruiting you've got to have the Wow Factor going for you. This gives us the Wow Factor, in combination with our coaching staff and their commitment. … This will allow us to go after any recruit in the country."
Linebacker coach David Kotulski was also a Utah State assistant in 2003 and 2004, when the Aggies went 6-17 and played in the far-flung Sun Belt Conference.
More than most people currently connected with USU's football program, Kotulski knows how far the Aggies have come.
"This is a Division I stadium a facility everyone at Utah State and in Cache Valley can be proud of," he said. "I know our players are just thrilled about it. … It adds a little more pride to what we have going on."
New look for Aggies
• Construction on Utah State's $36 million renovation of Maverik Stadium is complete.
• The project, which began in May of 2015, took about 15 months to finish.
• Among the additions: suites, patio seating areas and two video scoreboards.