What can Vandal fans expect when they head to the Kibbie Athletic Center for Idaho's 2009 home opener this Saturday at 2pm against San Diego State? Two things. First, Idaho fans can expect a vastly improved Vandal football team that can move the ball offensively and already has a win under their belt. Second, Idaho fans can expect sunlight flowing in through the Dome's renovated west wall.
REMINDER: Saturday is Military Appreciation Day in the Dome
REMINDER: Wear your "Akey's Army" shirts to the game
This Saturday at 2pm PST, when Idaho (1-1, 1-0 WAC) takes on Mountain West Conference foe San Diego State (1-1, 0-0 MWC), sunlight will be pouring into the Dome for the first time ever. Initial reports of the project, which began earlier this year, are unanimous: Virtually everyone agrees the renovated west wall is a enormous improvement to the game day environment inside the Vandal Athletic Center.
Part of a massive life-safety project to bring the entire facility up to modern day building and safety codes, the two endwalls are the most dramatic and visible of the improvements (the east wall is currently planned to be completed in time for the 2011 season).
For images of the west wall appearance, see the gallery below. For a far more in-depth view of the work done on the Dome, please click on the link below:
LINK: OFFICIAL KIBBIE DOME RENOVATION WEB SITE
Coinciding with the Dome renovation is another renovation this season. A renovation of the Vandal football schedule. Consider this...the 2009 season is the first time since Idaho made the move back to Division 1A back in 1996 that there will be SIX Division 1A football teams visiting the Idaho campus in a single season. In years past, the most there has ever been has been is just five, and never more than just one D1A non-conference opponent. Occasionally a 1AA team was thrown in, and sometimes Idaho was forced to play seven games on the road.
That is not the case in 2009. Legitimately, with the schedule that has been drawn up by Idaho Athletics Director Rob Spear (with remaining non-conference games being SDSU Saturday, at Northern Illinois next week, and Colorado State in the Dome in two weeks), the Vandals have a real opportunity at a 4-1 or 3-2 record when WAC play resumes later this season.
But it all starts Saturday against SDSU.
San Diego State is just the beginning of what should be one of the best home schedules at Idaho since the Vandals were part of the Pacific Coast Conference - the precursor to today's Pac-10. The all-time series with SDSU is 1-2-0 in favor of the Aztecs, with the home team the winner in each of the past three meetings. Both the Vandals and Aztecs are 1-1 on the season going into Saturday's game, and with Idaho 3-point underdogs by oddsmakers, a close game can be expected. Look for a complete pregame writeup on this site on Friday.
Next week the Vandals travel to Northern Illinois in a MAC/WAC matchup, and then in two weeks Idaho will welcome another Mountain West Conference team to the Dome, Colorado State. This will mark the first time the Rams have played at Idaho in Moscow since 1973 (a 33-30 Idaho loss). The Vandals beat the Rams 10-0 in 1971, in a game played in Spokane.
After CSU, the Idaho home conference slate includes Hawaii (Oct 17), La Tech (Oct 31), Fresno State (Nov 7), and Utah State (Nov 28) in the season finale.
But we'll worry about those matchups later. For now, the focus is all on San Diego State and improving to 2-1 on the season for the first time since 2006.
Images below provided courtesy of MAILLEMAN, one of many devoted Vandal fans on our message boards. Enjoy!
Redesigned exterior west wall.
Interior west wall, looking at north stands.
Midfield view, for those with seats on the 50
Looking at east wall (banners relocated here)
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