Stadium project to serve as ‘rallying point,’ Currie says

Stadium project to serve as ‘rallying point,’ Currie says

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Prior to the kickoff of the Spring Game, the K-State athletics department held a special groundbreaking ceremony for the West Stadium Center project at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. The project was announced to the K-State family almost four months ago at the 2012 AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic.

On Saturday morning, speakers, guests and alumni met up to hear remarks about the West Stadium Center, starting with a warm welcome from Wyatt Thompson, Voice of the Wildcats, and special remarks from K-State President Kirk Schulz, Athletics Director John Currie, K-State alumnus and Managing Director/Chief Operating Officer at Bain Capital Mike Goss, and head football coach Bill Snyder.

“Our goal to have the best fan experience will be advanced … The new structure will mark the northwest gateway of our beautiful campus and serve as a rallying point for the whole university as we pursue the goal at elevating K-State to be ranked as one of the top 50 public research universities by 2025,” Currie said.

The $75 million project is expected to be completed by Aug. 31, 2013, and the will be completely funded by donors, who have contributed $40 million so far.

“No state or university tuition dollars will be used in its construction,” Currie said.

Goss, 1981 K-State graduate in economics, was asked to speak at the ceremony by Chad Weiberg, senior associate athletics director for development, and shared many of his fond memories of K-State.

“I remember my first Kansas State football game,” Goss said. “It was in September of 1967, the last season in the old stadium, when we played [Virginia Tech]. I was only 7 years old at the time, but I do have some specific memories of that day.”

Goss went on to describe the day as hot, crowded, noisy and colorful.

“The other thing I remember,” Goss continued, “was after the game, our family piling into the family station wagon and driving out north to see the stadium being built. As a 7-year-old, I didn’t think much about it; I just remember this big hole being dug in the ground, and it was pretty cool that we were going to build a stadium out of a hole.”

Gross said that he realized it is the fans themselves who make up the great K-State fan experience, and today, these fans have a lot more than the generation who built the original Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

“That generation of K-State football fans didn’t have near as much to think about as we do,” Goss said. “They didn’t have 15 bowl games. In fact, they didn’t have a single one; they had only won one conference championship up until that point, but they’d never really been contenders on the national level. I don’t think they ever dreamed they would have Heisman Trophy candidates playing for their team.”

Goss also said that even though this is a big project, K-State has a strong foundation.

“It must have required a huge leap of faith to build this very first stadium, so I think about the project they’re now undertaking. There is no leap of faith required to build this project,” Goss said. “We have the real deal; we have a university that has already built the scaffolding for this project by instilling in all of us a true sense of pride in both our school and our athletics program.”

Snyder also had a few comments about the project and, though he had a football game to attend shortly after, he was a part of the groundbreaking ceremony as well.

“Kansas State University, to me, is about one thing,” Snyder said, “and that’s about people who genuinely care about people, people who earn the trust of others, and that’s exactly what I’ve experienced in the 20-something-odd years that I’ve been at Kansas State.”

Currie said the project is on track to be completed in time for the Wildcats’ 2013-14 football season.

“If you think this is a good day for Kansas State football,” Goss concluded, “can you imagine what it’s going to be like Aug. 31, 2013, when we walk into that stadium for the first time? It will be an absolute blast.”