Left Field Lounge Must Change with the New DNF


Wednesday evening, I published this article about the end of the current Left Field Lounge, which included a reference to my first ever visit to left field at Dudy Noble.  I noted that the uniqueness of this place and how it has evolved over time.  I also wondered out loud if there was a compromise that might bring some of the more vocals opponents of the new stadium plans back into the fold.

Much to my surprise, my article caught the attention of none other than Athletic Director Scott Stricklin.  Scott reached out to me through Twitter and asked if he could call me.  We spoke for a few minutes over the phone yesterday, and I believe I have a much better appreciation now of what MSU is trying to accomplish with the proposed expansion.

There were a few things we discussed that Scott asked I not write about, and I am honoring that request.  But the question I’ve heard the most from stadium expansion opponents is “why?”.  Why, after all these years of successfully packing in huge crowds into the Left Field Lounge area, would MSU suddenly change all that and “destroy” the Left Field Lounge?

Seriously, does it take a rocket scientist to figure this out?  Other writers on this site have discussed the potential liability issues to the University due to the fact that rigs in the lounge are constructed by the owners and not exactly what we would call “up to code”.  I think it’s obvious to anyone who has ever taken a stroll through the Lounge area that some rigs were not constructed with safety in mind.

The most frequent rebuttal to the safety concern is “no one has ever been hurt here before.” I would say two things in response to that.  One, there’s always a first time, and two, this is not 1990 anymore.  Times have changed, society has changed, the legal climate has changed, and it simply isn’t smart to bury your head in the sand and pretend that there isn’t a problem.

As a child in the 1960’s and 70’s, I rode in the bed of my Dad’s pickup while he drove down the highway.  Sometimes I even sat on the tailgate and dangled my legs – while he was speeding down a gravel road.  I siphoned gas from my parents’ car, using my mouth, when I needed it to cut the grass. (Gasoline doesn’t taste very good, so it only takes one or two times before you learn how to do it without getting gas in your mouth.)

I could name you three or four other unsafe things I regularly did as a kid but never got hurt doing. That doesn’t mean I would recommend doing those things today.  The argument that no one has ever gotten hurt before just simply doesn’t address the reality of the world we live in today.

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It is far better that MSU address the safety issue proactively, as opposed to having changes forced upon us by others.  The new stadium plans do exactly that, while at the same time preserving as much of the uniqueness and charm of the left field lounge area as possible.  It also brings our present stadium up to par with others in the SEC. If you haven’t had a chance to look at some of the other stadiums in the SEC, you really should.  I think you will find that ours is no longer among the elite stadiums in the conference.

Access to the “lounge spaces” in the new stadium will be the same as with the current lounge.  Anyone with a general admission ticket can access them, provided it is okay with the owner of the space.  Spaces will not be cookie cutter copies of one another.  Owners will have the opportunity to customize their sites.  And they will be inherently safer.

In many ways, the “new” lounge will be much better.  There will be a concourse that surrounds the outfield area that will allow full view of the field from all parts of the lounge – something that is not the case right now.

The stadium designers and architects walked about in the lounge last weekend during the LSU series, trying to get a feel for and understand what Left Field Lounge is truly all about.  They immediately realized that it is indeed a unique place, and they pledged to do everything possible to preserve as much of the present atmosphere as possible.

It is time that all true Bulldogs get behind this project.  This is a huge undertaking and it needs the support of everyone in order to be successful.  I know there are many who want the Lounge to remain the same, but that is not a realistic option.  One way or another, Left Field Lounge is going to change. The question is – will it be a change that we initiate and control, or will it be one that is forced upon us? I find the former option eminently more appealing than the latter.