New stands just grand

TODD SAELHOF -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:11 AM ET

Donna Scrivens digs her reserved digs under the new covered grandstand of Spruce Meadows.

For the 14-year equine fan, sitting comfy and cozy is quite welcome with wind and rain still threatening the 30th anniversary kickoff of the renowned equestrian grounds.

"It sure is going to keep me warm and dry," said the 46-year-old Scrivens settling yesterday into her stadium-style seat.

"I prefer this to the benches -- you can relax and sit back, and that's important when you're here all day."

According to surveys conducted by Spruce Meadows, a chair under cover is what the fans wanted most.

And that's why the planning committee earmarked a good chunk of this past year's $5-million fund for improvements on the gala grandstand sitting high and mighty on the south end of the International Ring.

The $1-million venture -- dedicated mostly for season-ticket holders -- is the most noticeable of projects new to the grounds this summer.

But what may prove to be the most impressive is a new clock tower in the works, while minor additions include expanded television facilities, improvements to the Meadows on the Green Ring and a first-class entrance welcoming fans to the grounds from the west.

Randy Fedorak, the vice-president of special features, said the 1,000-seat covered grandstand -- constructed in the six weeks leading up to the National -- is just the first phase in a multi-stage, fan-oriented plan for the International Ring.

"Our goal was to try and make something that was really comfortable," said Fedorak of the roomy seats, which are wider than most stadium ones.

"We've decreased our capacity by a couple hundred seats, but we've targeted quality rather than quantity."

In the meantime, the $200,000 clock tower is targeted to be ready for the North American, beginning July 6, and the current scoreboard will be relocated to perch under it.

Being erected directly east of the new grandstand, the state-of-the-art Rolex timepiece will retain its popular tradition as the point under which the riders enter the ring.

"We want it to be an impressive signature piece for the International Ring," Fedorak said. "The old clock tower was always a signature of Spruce Meadows, so this new tower has to maintain that."


Videos

Photos