BOZEMAN – Montana State University took a big step towards the finish line for its Master Plan this week.
It’s been about 50 years since the last major upgrade for athletes at MSU, and that could soon change.
Since 1958, MSU student-athletes have shared a space that was built for far less than the number of athletes competing and training there today.
On Wednesday morning, university leaders took that to the Montana Board of Regents, seeking approval on an expansion that would add 40,000 square feet of building space to Bobcat Stadium.
According to Leon Costello, MSU’s director of athletics, it’s not just the football program that will benefit from the expansion.
“For the bang for the buck, it benefited every single student-athlete and program that we had,” Costello said.
The Brick Breeden Fieldhouse and the Bobcat Stadium have seen thousands of students for decades, but growth is needed.
“It’s really the only project that we’ve done outside of some minor facelifts within athletics since the end zone was completed in 2010,” Costello said. “To continue the growth that we see on campus, we need to catch up in athletics as well.”
And to win the race, athletes will need to exercise their brains. That’s where the new space comes in.
“Our student-athletes do very well in the classroom and they graduate at a high rate,” Costello said. “Now with this space, we will be able to focus on maybe a little bit more details of their needs.”
The athletic director said the process is just about in the end zone and when it’s all done, the northern part of the field, along with other parts of the university, will be renovated and transformed to give athletes a place to study and more.
“We’ll have a weight room in the new facility,” Costello said. “We will have a weight room still in this building. We will have athletic training services in that facility. We will have athletic training services here.”
The new facility will be 40,000 square feet with two stories of new space. The Fieldhouse will also boast upgrades as 3,500 square feet will be renovated.
Costello said the football program will move to the new area, a space that is well-needed.
“It should provide them with better time to get and eat proper meals, better times to study, get their class work done, and then better times to sleep,” Costello said.
As of Wednesday, out of the $18 million price tag, $16.5 million had already been raised.
“We have had approximately 300 individual donors to this with about 320 donations,” Costello said.
He added with help from donors, athletics can work more to get ahead, and less to catch up.
“As people drive onto campus, onto Kagy, you know, they are going to see this facility and it’s going to be a great way to welcome them to our campus and it’s going to be kind of the face maybe now of our athletic programs,” Costello said. “We need certain services and certain resources to be able to attract and retain student-athletes, to attract and retain really coaches, as well. For us to be on that level, we needed more space.”
The university is hopeful they can raise the rest of the money by the end of the summer, according to Costello. Construction should then begin in the fall.
Once the project starts, it will take 14 to 16 months to finish, including the process of moving staff to the new space.
-Reported by Cody Boyer/MTN News