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Topeka Capital-Journal (Kansas)
August 30, 2013 Friday
|K-State West Stadium Center: Something for everyone|
MANHATTAN - A change in leadership came to Kansas State University in February 2009 when Kirk Schulz was hired as president. Three months later, Schulz selected John Currie as director of athletics.
Currie recently recalled two early conversations he had, one with Schulz and the other with football coach Bill Snyder. Those brief talks laid the groundwork for a project that has reshaped the K-State football program with the dedication and grand opening Friday of the West Stadium Center at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
"During my interview for the job, president Schulz talked about the good facilities we had but one of the things I needed to do right away was start an assessment of facilities," Currie said. "The first time I met with coach Snyder, I asked him what he needs from me and he said we need a sold-out stadium and waiting list and we need a training table."
A string of winning seasons under Snyder, including a Big 12 Conference championship last year, has taken care of the sell-out issue for this season's eight-game home schedule, which kicks off at 7:30 p.m. Friday against North Dakota State.
The coach's long-desired training table is one aspect of the West Stadium Center, a 215,000-square foot, six-story structure that will enable fans to enjoy their game-day experience in new avenues.
"I have a great appreciation for the people who invested in the support of the entire facility," Snyder said. "A lot of people put a lot of dollars and hard work into it."
Among the amenities of the WSC are 41 private suites on two levels, 35 loge boxes with 140 seats and 750 club seats. The spacious concourse has areas for fans to gather, a hall of fame display with video touch screens detailing the history of K-State athletics, increased restroom facilities and new lighting to enhance high definition television broadcasts.
The original budget was $75 million, but Currie said the final tab will be approximately $90 million with some late additions. It was funded through private donations and private seating commitments.
"We added lighting in the parking lots and the east side and resurfaced the east lot," he said. "Those are examples of additions to the original scope of the master plan. With a lot of projects, you get into them and you have to cut, cut, cut. We've added to our project to not only finish the West Stadium Center but all of phase two of the Bill Snyder Family Stadium master plan for the enhancement of all of our fans."
One feature of the WSC that pleases Currie is the limestone design that blends with the traditional campus setting.
"It's the image of the northwest entry to our beautiful campus with the same feel and heritage," he said. "Another thing is the fact there's something for everyone in this building with the improvements in the concourses, the covered ADA (disability) seating, the gathering areas, 200 percent more restrooms and the hall of fame display.
"The student-athlete training table may be the most significant aspect, and that was the genesis of the project."
When fully operational by the second semester, all 458 K-State student-athletes will have access to the dining services. For the football team, it is an all-inclusive compound that saves time from going to the current dining hall on another part of campus.
"They can come here and do it all," Snyder said. "They have their academic learning center here so they come for study table and tutoring help. They get their (weight) lifting in downstairs (Vanier Complex) and practice here.
"They have a real tight, compact schedule. It's not an easy life as a football student-athlete and anything we can do to help them manage their time is well worth it. I would project this would probably save them between 45 minutes and an hour a day, which means a great deal."
The project broke ground 16 months ago and kicked into full gear eight months ago when the previous press box structure was imploded following the end of the 2012 season.
"We've been watching it being built this whole offseason," Wildcat freshman linebacker Will Davis said. "It's been an amazing process and it's finally completed and we're very excited about it. It looks awesome."
Added sophomore defensive tackle Travis Britz: "It's an honor to see that facility behind us. Our fans are so supportive of us and they want to help us have the best facilities so it makes us want to work harder and not let them down."
The West Stadium Center, with a dedication ceremony at 11 a.m. Friday, follows the opening of the Basketball Training Facility a year ago and on-going construction projects with the Rowing Center and tennis complex.
"It's another statement that Kansas State is going to be part of the highest echelon of intercollegiate athletics," Currie said. "It's a statement for our university that we do things in a first-class manner."
August 30, 2013