You often hear of teams wanting to "blow it all up" in the offseason, but Oregon State took that to another level on Friday.
As part of a $153 million renovation project at Reser Stadium, the school hosted an implosion of the stadium's west grandstand. The school estimates that the project will be complete in the summer of 2023 and be open for the 2023 fall football season. The Beavers will continue to play at Reser Stadium through the construction in 2022.
The upgrades will undoubtedly bring the venue up into the current times, but there is always a sense of loss that comes with a moment like this.
Or perhaps that vague tinge of grief is more specific to me. You see, I grew up in those grandstands.
Back when it was still called Parker Stadium — before the salsa-and-potato-salad company bought up the naming rights, before the east side of the stadium had been rebuilt, before the Beavers were good enough at football to deserve such an investment — I used to watch Corvallis High School games in the west grandstand. It rains a lot in Corvallis, and at the time, it was the only part of the stadium that provided cover from the rain.
Later, sometime around the Ken Simonton era, my family started going to Oregon State games. Our general admission tickets were always on the west side. I can still remember all the times I tripped on the awkwardly shaped concrete steps and lost precious kernels of expensive popcorn.
out with the old... pic.twitter.com/b3OtuRJzH6— Oregon State Football (@BeaverFootball) January 7, 2022
The first time I ever rushed the field — in November 1999, after the Beavers clinched their first bowl appearance in 35 years under first-year head coach Dennis Erickson — I ran in from the west side. My nerves were aplenty as I sat on the edge of the wall, waiting for the final whistle that would unleash pandemonium.
Further down the road, I was briefly a student at Oregon State. I attended games in the student section on the east side, or sometimes with a group of friends in the south end zone. But each time I did — especially on those rainy days — my gaze would often leave the field as I longed for the cozy confines of the west end.
Eventually I moved to Portland and found it difficult to make it back home for Beaver games. Before I knew it, nearly a decade had passed without taking so much as a step inside of Reser Stadium. I had graduated from college, lived in another country and started a new career in the time since I'd been back home.
That new career — being a sports reporter for Pamplin Media Group — offered me the chance to finally return to Corvallis for the first time in years. I was able to attend the home finale, a win over Arizona State, as the team bid a special farewell to the west grandstands.
In a poetic twist, I watched the Beavers clinch a long-awaited bowl appearance from the press box overlooking those same seats where I sat nervously as a youngster and waited to rush the field. Admittedly, I spent part of the ASU game distracted by vivid recollections from the bleachers where I learned to love football.
To be sure, today's implosion of the west grandstand does usher in an exciting new era of Oregon State football. I just hope the new west side is able to provide the next generation with the same feeling of home that the old grandstands gave me.
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