ARLINGTON, Texas — Kansas State officials timed the announcement of a $75 million expansion plan to the West side of Snyder Family Stadium as a way to inspire an already exhilarated crowd at the Wildcats' Cotton Bowl pep rally on Thursday.
They wanted to combine the thrill of the present — a 10-2 season that landed K-State in a major bowl game for the first time since 2004 — with optimistic views of the future that include a brand new look.
K-State is now aggressively trying to catch up with other Big 12 programs that have pulled away from it in the facilities race.
The Wildcats' current press box, a five-level structure built in 1993, ranks among the smallest in the Big 12. Designs for their new 250,000 gross square feet press compete with most current structures across the league and resembles Texas Tech's stadium in size and appearance.
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"There have been significant moments in Kansas State University's history from an athletic facility perspective and significant steps taken forward periodically," athletic director John Currie said. "We are clearly at a point in our history where we need to take the same step with our football stadium."
It will be several years before it's known what that step means for the K-State football program, but fans were happy to see it Thursday. They wildly applauded as they watched a video detailing how the facility will be built in six phases and include everything from a new press box to renovated restrooms and a student-athlete dining hall.
Currie said he is optimistic K-State can begin construction on the project before the start of the 2012 regular season. His staff has already raised approximately one third of the money needed for the project. Once funds reach the halfway mark, K-State will begin construction. Currie said crews will work around the current facility in a way that will not interrupt its use.
But, Currie said, there will be one heck of a mess.
"I think fans aren't going to mind a little bit of construction dust every now and then," K-State president Kirk Schulz said. "You see that steel work going up and excavations and stuff like that. It gives you a sense of pride on a college campus."
When the expansion is complete, K-State will benefit from 40 private suites, 36 club boxes and 800 club-level seats. Fans will also have a "Hall of Honor" and a new ticket office and athletics store to walk through on the main concourse.
"This will certainly raise the experience level for every single fan," Currie said.
And, hopefully, the entire football program as well. The way Currie sees it, K-State football coach Bill Snyder has the Wildcats headed in the right direction. Now it's his turn to help.
"As we continue to build and follow his leadership in not only stabilizing our program but propelling our program forward," Currie said, "there is no question that the commitment to intercollegiate athletics represented by an investment of this type is very significant for the whole future of our athletics program."