As the Jackets prep for their home opener on Saturday against 21st-ranked UCF, fans can anticipate being the first to see the new and improved Bobby Dodd Stadium. Over the offseason, the Institute completed several updates to both the stadium facilities and Grant Field, which together promise to provide a significantly improved experience for the 11,000 people who will be allowed to watch Saturday’s game in person. The on-field renovations will also create a more modern look for Tech’s nationally televised home games, of which there are several this season, including Saturday’s contest with the UCF Knights.
The renovations began in May when the Institute began to remove Grant Field’s natural grass, which had been in place since 1994, and install a brand-new artificial turf. The product is named Legion NXT and is produced by Shaw Sports Turf, the new surface allows the stadium to be used for multiple purposes beyond football games, including concerts and other campus events, both of the athletic and non-athletic variety. This ability to host other events will increase the value of the field while also decreasing field maintenance costs, as artificial turf requires less attention than natural grass. Shaw Sports Turf products are also used by the Cincinnati Bengals and the Indianapolis Colts of the NFL.
The state-of-the-art turf surface will carry a new paint scheme with several graphics and other visuals that are in line with the rebranding of Tech football that launched a couple years ago. This rebrand has been largely focused around reclaiming the rich history of Tech football and tying the Institute’s image to the city of Atlanta, and these emphases are both reflected in the design of the field. Both 25-yard lines feature an “ATL” emblazoned opposite the ACC logo, with the iconic Tech Tower “T” in gold between the “A” and “L”. Both sidelines also feature a “404” on the sideline, a reference to the Atlanta area code.
Four trophies are also painted under both goalposts, representing the Institute’s four national championships. Both end zones will read “GEORGIA TECH” against new background colors – gold lettering on Navy Blue for the south, and white lettering on Tech Gold for the north.
Off the field, several changes were also made to the stadium to enhance the game experience. New lighting and sound systems were installed, and the signs around the stadium were also given a rebrand, including a new sign installed on the Wardlaw Building at the south side of the stadium.
The stadium refresh is another step in the effort to build the brand of the Tech football program which began when Coach Geoff Collins first came to the school almost two years ago. Bobby Dodd is the oldest stadium in college football, and as such, an upgrade was needed to keep up with the standards that Collins is trying to promote.
This increased focus on the image and reputation of the Institute, touting its location in the heart of Atlanta and its history, is already beginning to produce evidence that Tech football is on the rise. Collins’ first full recruiting class was ranked 24th in the country by Rivals.com, the first time since 2007 that the Jackets have appeared in the top 25. The anticipation surrounding the class was validated in the season opener, when the headliner of the class, four-star quarterback Jeff Sims, played a pivotal role in the Jackets’ victory over Florida State. Sims made several mistakes along the way, which would be expected, but also showed great potential as a starter in his first college football in a hostile environment.
The new stadium look will only benefit the Institute as they host several nationally televised games against some of the elite schools in the nation, such as Notre Dame and Clemson. Tech’s administration has shown a willingness to invest in the rebranding effort, and fans have reason to be excited about the future of the program, on and off the field.