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At Byrd, more room with a view


COLLEGE PARK -- The view doesn't include the Washington Monument, and the players looked a lot smaller. But with Maryland's victory over North Carolina, the new upper-deck seating started warming over the crowd.

"At first, I thought it was kind of crazy to build this," said David Butler of Bowie, after the Terps had taken a two-touchdown lead. "But this team now has a shot to go 6-0, and they could start filling this place."

It was the first game at the newly renovated Byrd Stadium, which expanded its capacity to 48,010 by adding two levels on the north side at a cost of $19.7 million.

The attendance for yesterday's game was 32,215, which easily would have fit in Byrd last year. The new "club" level, which is regarded as one of the best views at Byrd, was nearly 75 percent full, and the upper deck had only a sparse crowd.

"There's nobody up here," said Donnie Michaelis of Pasadena, who was in the front row of the upper deck and was interviewed when the Terps were losing 10-0. "It doesn't feel like you are a part of the crowd up here. We're heading downstairs soon. They also need an escalator."

The hike to the upper-deck seating was a common complaint. The top of the upper deck is 125 feet from the concourse, and a trip that includes climbing six flights of stairs and 90 steps from the ground level.

Even with the journey to the top, the last row of the upper deck was continually lined with fans. Most fans said they just wanted to see what it looked like up there.

"I thought we would get oxygen masks or see some landmarks in D. C. from here," said Frank Barrett of Laurel, who sat in the last row for a few minutes.

Others thought the upper-deck seating was worth the $5, one of the cheapest priced areas in the stadium.

"You get what you pay for," said Jenny Randall of Gaithersburg. "I'd rather see the whole field than sit in the end zone and wait for the ball to come back to your end of the field. You also have enough room to spread out and kick up your feet."

Another advantage of sitting in the new seating was the lack of long lines for restrooms and concession stands. More facilities mean less time in line. After the addition is complete, the number of rest rooms and concession stands will have doubled.

"You can see the potential of this place," said Mark Reilly of Baltimore. "Everything is going to look much more up to date. The next thing is to fill this place."

Even the Terps felt some emotion over the addition when viewing it after Friday night's practice.

"Yesterday, we sat at the very top and looked down," Maryland defensive lineman Johnnie Hicks said. "It gave us a lot of %J inspiration. We decided right then that we didn't want to lose here."

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