With two tubas totaling 80 pounds slung over both of his shoulders, Christopher Hovis, senior in music education, makes the near half-mile trek from McCain Auditorium to Memorial Stadium. Hovis is a member of the 400-person band obligated to carry their instruments multiple times a week — often throughout the day — because of inadequate facilities.
“We get quite a lot of steps in,” Hovis said. “Our instruments have to be stored in [McCain], and we have to bring them out to the field to load them onto the truck.”
The West Stadium Band Hall, expected to open in fall 2022, will allow band members to store their instruments and rehearse under one roof, according to an information sheet from the KSU Foundation.
Frank Tracz, music professor and director of bands, said the band stores its equipment in four buildings and nine different rooms across campus.
“The talks about the space and the need behind it started when I got the job here in 1993,” Tracz said. “These facilities are terribly inadequate and terribly dangerous. We need a building where we can store all of our equipment in one place.”
Tracz said the new facility would be safer for band members.
“When it’s outside and lightning is coming, we run,” Tracz said. “The band is powerful, and if you stand in front of it for too long in a small enclosed area that’s not acoustically treated, it can do some hearing damage.”
Hovis said without adequate rehearsal space, the band turned to renting McCain Auditorium for practice during inclement weather.
“No one here owns the auditorium,” Hovis said. “Whenever we have to meet in there for rain, we have to pay to rent that space out, and it’s not very cheap. This would totally eliminate that cost because we have full seating for the band and a big screen where we can watch a bird’s-eye view of all our shows. We have rehearsal space in there.”
Tracz said the most economically doable course of action was to take the existing building in West Stadium and design a plan for a new space.
“We’re taking that area, and we had engineers and architects look at it, and they’ve designed a plan and a cost estimate,” Tracz said. “We’re going through the process right now. We’re waiting for the Board of Regents, which is the final step to approve it.”
Tracz said the West Stadium Band Hall would serve primarily as an indoor rehearsal space for the band, the Classy Cats, the Color Guard and the twirlers. The building will also include storage space for instruments and uniforms, offices and a conference room.
“With this new building, it’s all going to be right there in the building in West Stadium,” Tracz said. “You’re talking 50 steps, and you’re in the indoor facility where you can store your instrument, where you can safely go if it’s lightning.”
Susan Berhow, associate vice president of marketing communications for the KSU Foundation, said the project would be 100 percent philanthropically funded.
“Fundraising is continuing on this project,” Berhow said. “It is not complete, although it’s going really well. We’re striving to hit a goal of $5 million for this project, and we have raised close to $4.5 million.”
Berhow said the foundation allows donors to make a gift and have a space named in their honor or in honor of someone else. There is also a page on the KSU Foundation website where people can contribute.
Tracz said the foundation sold 18 of the 19 rooms available for naming rights.
“We’re hoping the name rights are approved in December with the Board of Regents,” Tracz said. “We think it’s all going to be fine. Sometime in the spring, we’re going to break ground.”
Tracz said past, present and future members of the band had earned the rehearsal space they would soon get.
“We work very hard,” Sophia Shaar, senior in chemical engineering and french horn player, said. “It’s very fun, but the little things like this would relieve some of the stress. It’s designed for us and what we need.”