The ceremony was technically for the public debut of Kansas State’s entire West Stadium Center, but the hundreds of fans in attendance sat through the midday heat for something more specific.
The unveiling of a bronze, larger-than-life statue of longtime Wildcat football coach Bill Snyder.
It was the final addition to newly renovated Snyder Family Stadium, and it received raucous cheers. Snyder’s family unveiled the statue by removing a large, black piece of fabric to reveal a 7-foot-6 bronze figure that depicts Snyder coaching from the sidelines in his vintage windbreaker, K-State pants and Nike Cortez shoes with pen and notepad in hand. The statue, which weighs 1,800 pounds, was mounted on the top of a granite pedestal, giving K-State fans something new to look up at on their way into games.
Snyder knew little about the statue, and saw it for the first time along with everyone else. He gazed at it for a moment, posed for pictures in front of it with his family and quickly departed the ceremony to prepare for K-State’s season-opening game against North Dakota State, which was less than eight hours away.
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Through it all, he maintained a humble approach.
“It’s about all these people behind me,” said Snyder on his way out of the ceremony. “That’s it. It’s all about the family. I would rather (the statue) be of all of these people here.”
Snyder’s family was included on the statue. Handprints from several family members, including grandchildren, can be seen on the base of the statue.
Snyder always goes out of his way to thank his family and K-State’s fan base when he gets in front of a microphone, and Friday was no different. When addressing the crowd, he said he considered simply saying “thank you” three times and letting someone else walk into the spotlight.
Instead, he spoke for nearly nine minutes.
“There are so many things that have happened during the past 2 1/2 decades that have culminated with this very beautiful facility,” Snyder said. “It’s a wonderful facility and a very usable facility. It would take forever to go through all of them, but I remember so many things that are attributed to so many people who have really made a difference in this community. The key word is family.”
A star-studded group attended the ceremony, including Gov. Sam Brownback. And it featured video appearances from “Modern Family” actor Eric Stonestreet, Sen. Pat Roberts and former K-State standout Terence Newman.
Everyone had something positive to say about football stadium’s new look.
“It’s a fabulous time, it’s a fabulous place,” Brownback said. “This is going to be on the postcard for Kansas State.”
“I don’t think we could have expected it would be as great as it is,” echoed Mary Ice, who along with her husband Carl made the first major donation for the $90 million project. “We knew it was going to be a great project, but actually being in the building and seeing it, it surpassed every expectation anyone could have had.”
“We think it is great Coach Snyder is immortalized,” added Carl Ice. “We have a great deal of respect for him and think this is a wonderful looking statue.”
The statue was sculpted by Kansas City’s Spencer Schubert of E.S. Schubert Commercial Sculpture Studios and Leopold Gallery. Snyder knew little about the statue. His wife, Sharon, and his five children consulted with Schubert throughout the project, which lasted six months.
Plans for a statue were included in the original plans for the West Stadium Center, but no one knew for sure what it would depict until its unveiling. Everyone seemed to enjoy the finished product.
“I think it is great,” Sharon Snyder said. “I love the way it is set up. I like the handprints. I mean, it’s iconic. That is the way Bill always stands. It captures him beautifully.”
The trickiest part of the entire process might have been convincing Snyder to consent to the statue.
Then again, K-State athletic director John Currie didn’t give him much choice. The statue was in the works and paid when he approached Snyder about the final details.
It now greets fans at the stadium that bears his name.
“It’s a fitting way to honor and represent all that Coach Snyder has done for Kansas State University,” Currie said. “This project would not be complete without this statue.”