K-State will break ground on football stadium improvements during spring game

04/06/2012 5:00 AM

04/06/2012 4:49 PM

Kansas State football fans will have more than the Wildcats’ spring game to look forward to on April 28. The university will also hold a ceremony at 11:30 that morning to break ground on a $75 million expansion to the west side of Snyder Family Stadium.

K-State athletic director John Currie has listed the expansion project as a top priority for the past year, and on Friday said that the university had raised $40 million toward it. He feels so confident in his staff’s ability to secure the rest of the funds that he set a date for construction to begin.

The expansion, which will replace the stadium’s current press box with a much larger structure that spans the length of a football field and will add suites and club-level seats, is expected to be finished in time for the 2013 season.

“It is an aggressive schedule,” Currie said, “but it is also a realistic schedule.”

Currie said the stadium, which seats 50,000, will lose 1,000 seats this fall on its west side to accommodate construction. A small number of parking spots will also be lost. The current press box, which was built in 1993, will remain in use.

K-State announced plans for the expansion project at a pep rally leading up to the Cotton Bowl. Currie said K-State has sold 4,000 more season tickets than it did at this time last year, and has received more donations than it did all of last year.

A $5 million anonymous pledge helped K-State reach the $40 million mark toward this project. Currie doesn’t think it will take long to raise the other $35 million. He said all of the suites that will be built in the expansion project have already been purchased.

That’s the kind of enthusiasm that made this project possible.

“This transformational project will not only enhance the world-class student-athlete experience for our student-athletes but also further impact on our goal of providing the best fan experience in the Big 12,” Currie said. “We have made tremendous progress and are excited to officially break ground and move forward.”

K-State is almost finished with construction of its new basketball practice facility. The structure, which is being built on the east side of Bramlage Coliseum, cost $18 million. It should be ready for use this summer.

Currie has already planned out K-State’s next two facility improvements. On Friday he said they will be the addition of outdoor tennis courts and an indoor rowing training facility.

Football practice — The K-State football team has started spring practice, and players say they are further along than they were at this point last year. With Collin Klein returning at quarterback and Arthur Brown coming back at linebacker, that isn’t surprising.

“Coach Snyder is making sure we aren’t going backwards,” Klein said. “We are hungry for it. The foundation is in place. We are moving forward and starting ahead of where we were.”

Klein’s younger brother, Kyle, has moved to wide receiver for spring practices. Collin Klein said he is showing promise at the position.

K-State could use some depth at the receiver position. Brodrick Smith, a former starter with the Wildcats, is no longer on the roster.

Currie said the K-State football team will open the 2013 season with three home games during nonconference play. He said the Wildcats will play North Dakota State and Louisiana Lafayette. They are currently working on a deal with a third unidentified team.

Weber warmup — Despite some initial negative response, Currie said he is hearing nothing but positives now about new basketball coach Bruce Weber.

“Our fans, from the feedback I’m getting, are very excited about Coach Weber,” Currie said.

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