It is Farewell to Toomey and Hello to Our Unnamed Stadium as the UC Davis Aggies open their home football season at 1:05 p.m. Oct. 14 against the Central Arkansas Bears.
It is actually Farewell to Toomey 2, because this is the second farewell season — marking the Aggies' 57th year in the football venue.
The athletics department had hoped to be in the new multi-use stadium on the west side of campus this football season. Officials even arranged a schedule that started with five away games in a row, to give the stadium contractor more time to finish the $29.75 million project.
But it was not enough time. So the Aggies are back in Toomey for one more year. And, because the athletics department packed the schedule with road games at the front end, there will a bunch of home games at the back end: five, in fact, from Oct. 14 to Nov. 25, two days after Thanksgiving.
Before each of those games, the athletics department will lead walking tours of the new stadium, starting at 10 a.m. and lasting about 45 minutes. Interested people should meet in the Schaal Aquatics Center parking lot off (enter off Garrod Drive, off La Rue Road). The stadium is near the corner of Hutchison Drive and La Rue.
Michael Angius, assistant athletic director for development, advised tour participants to wear comfortable walking shoes, "which will undoubtedly get dusty due to the construction."
The tours "will prove to be very, very exciting for those who have yet to see this marvelous facility from the inside," Angius said in an e-mail.
The goal posts are up, and workers started installing the synthetic turf last Saturday.
"Our visitors are starting to talk about the beautiful design elements, particularly the sunken bowl nature of the field, and the expansive concourse," said Greg Warzecka, athletic director, who added that he will participate in the five pre-game tour programs.
The stadium will open with about 9,000 seats along both sidelines from end zone to end zone, said Bob Bullis, associate athletic director for business and facilities. Additional seating will be available on grass berms behind each end zone, he said, adding that the university plans to install bleachers on those berms in the future, to boost the number of permanent seats to 15,000.
The first phase also includes concessions stands, restrooms, scoreboard, locker rooms and press box.
Student fees are covering almost two-thirds of the cost, with the remaining funds comprising private donations. Students agreed to assess themselves for the stadium by approving the Facilities and Campus Enhancement (FACE) Initiative in 1999.
The stadium is set to open in the spring, with the women's lacrosse team destined to play the first games there. The football team will take the field for the first time next fall.
The football team's move into the new stadium will coincide with UC Davis' move from Division II to Division I in the National Collegiate Athletic Association. In football, the Aggies had been headed for Division I-AA — but that division is now called the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision.
The old Division I-A is now called the Football Bowl Subdivision, comprising teams like Cal and Stanford that are eligible for traditional bowl games. For teams like UC Davis, the NCAA continues to host football championships; the Aggies played in 21 such games at Toomey Field over the years, compiling a 10-11 record.
Toomey was not always Toomey. It started in 1949 as Aggie Field. In 1962, the university named the field after Irving "Crip" Toomey, a year after his death. He had been part of the athletics staff for 33 years, serving as a coach and athletics director.
The new stadium has no name — yet. The naming right is available for a minimum donation of $10 million, Warzecka said. He declined to talk about whether any offers had come in, or who they might be from.
A camera offers a live view of the new stadium's construction; see it online at www.ae.ucdavis.edu/webcams/StadiumCam.htm.