Kansas State to announce $50 million upgrade to football stadium

03/26/2014 1:24 PM

03/26/2014 1:28 PM

The construction crews that have become a staple at Snyder Family Stadium over previous years are nearing a return.

Kansas State is ready to unveil plans for a $50 million overhaul to the north end of its football stadium with hopes that construction can begin at the conclusion of the upcoming season and be completed in time for the 2015 home opener, according to four sources with knowledge of the project.

The sources said K-State plans to share full details of the privately funded renovation with a video at the Wildcats’ spring football game on April 26.

"They are full speed ahead right now," said one K-State donor, who asked not to be identified because the university hasn’t announced the information publicly. "It is going to be an amazing facility – as good as any other in college football."

Athletics director John Currie stopped short of confirming those details when asked about the project’s timeline earlier this week, but he did say an official announcement will be made soon.

"We will be in a position to make some announcements later this spring or this summer," Currie said.

When asked about a construction schedule, Currie said "I would be disappointed if we are not doing something in the next couple years."

The improvements will serve as the third major facelift to Snyder Family Stadium since Currie has been at K-State. Construction crews previously added permanent bathrooms to the upper level of the stadium’s east side and overhauled the press box on the west side, resulting in the new $90 million West Stadium Center.

K-State’s next wave of renovations will significantly upgrade the football team’s operational space. Players will benefit from a new locker room, weight room, video room and meeting areas. Coaches will have new, nicer offices. And all student-athletes will get to use a new academic center.

It will also transform the look and feel of the football stadium. Top K-State administrators have shared renderings with prominent boosters and recruits. Sources that have viewed them said they feature an enclosed stadium, allowing fans to walk between the northwest and northeast ends for the first time and two new video boards, located on the northwest and northeast corners.

Other amenities, such as a fan deck, new restrooms and a wider concourse, will add to the stadium’s existing atmosphere. The inside of facility should resemble the basketball team’s new practice building. The Kansas City-based architecture company Populous will design both projects.

Currie has said the renovations won’t increase stadium capacity. His hope is for an improved fan experience, with better seating behind the north end zone that honors the tradition of children high-fiving players as they enter and exit the field. The new structure should roughly double K-State’s current football complex.

The final product may look different in some areas than what sources described. K-State spokesman Kenny Lannou said the athletic department hasn’t finalized the facility’s design. He said it is also working to figure out ways to maintain a normal work environment for the football team while it is displaced during construction.

Currie has previously said K-State has the infrastructure to manage any disturbances.

"Short-term pain for some long-time gain," is how he described it earlier this month.

K-State also has plans for $12 million in facility upgrades to other areas, including a new video board behind the south end zone of the football stadium, new video boards at Bramlage Coliseum and improvements at its baseball stadium.

In the previous two years, K-State has completed $125 million worth of construction on a new rowing facility, the basketball training facility and the West Stadium Center.

K-State opened the West Stadium Center at the beginning of the 2013 season, which ended with the Wildcats beating Michigan in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.

In between, K-State planned for the future. Another booster that donated to the project described its fundraising efforts as "nothing short of remarkable."

"They sold me," the booster said. "I expected some donor fatigue after the West Stadium Center, but Bill Snyder has the football program rolling. They convinced me now is the time to move forward, not wait."

Others agreed. Thanks in large part to a record $20 million donation from longtime benefactor Jack Vanier and his family, K-State is closing in on the $50 million fundraising target it set for its next wave of improvements.

Currie refused to share specific fundraising figures, but described them as "tremendous."

"We had a number of significant gifts prior to that donation from the Vanier family," Currie said. "Obviously that was a huge leap forward, a historic leap forward, and we continue to make great progress in that regard."

Exactly the way Currie prefers.

"The most exciting thing about these projects was that it wasn’t, ‘We are done now,’ " Currie said. "It was, ‘Hey guys, what’s next?’ It was almost surprising to me and to some of the staff. But if they are asking that question you know there is interest and desire to keep rocketing forward."

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