Currie: No timetable for latest project

By Joel Jellison

With the record $60 million gift from the Vanier family last week — $20 million going to athletics — Kansas State AD John Currie would like to begin Phase III of the football stadium renovation, “sooner, rather than later.”

Yet, Currie said Saturday night there is no timetable for when the latest upgrades to Bill Snyder Family Stadium are set to begin.

“These projects are dependent on leadership giving, and the momentum that’s provided by that gift is extraordinarily significant,” Currie said. “I think the most significant thing about that gift is the impact it has across the university community. The Vanier family has been involved with our football program forever, as long as I’m concerned.

“It’s a very special way to continue to build and make progress toward our vision of a model intercollegiate athletic program.”

Phase III of the project is slated to feature a $62 million overhaul of the north end zone, including the Vanier Football Complex. The last renovation in 2006 included nearly 10,000 square feet of new space, a hydrotherapy center and bench seating in the north end zone.

Currie said it’s time to do it again.

“We’re in a society that you either get better or you go away,” he said. “Whether it’s hospitals or churches, schools or rec centers, budget hotels, you name it, everything has capital investments and gets better, or it closes down and goes away.”

Last month the Kansas Board of Regents approved K-State to begin the design process — to be done by the Kansas City sports architectural firm, Populous.

It’s been a busy last two years for K-State with the completion of the Basketball Training Facility, West Stadium Center, K-State rowing center and upgrades to the tennis courts.

Like those facilities, Currie said the goal is to be fiscally responsible and add structures that only need to be built once.

When the K-State athletic department began researching ways to upgrade the video board in the north end zone, a simple addition to the structure didn’t seem to fit its needs.

“At the end of the day, we were going to spend $20 or $30 million and still have kind of a ramshackle inside,” Currie said. “It’s time to move forward. There are 40-year-old systems in that building. When it was built originally, it was built pretty quickly, but it does serve us well.

“The improvements that have been made to the Vanier complex over the 40 years of its existence have all been good improvements and have all been used very well.”

The biggest challenge of Phase III will be logistical. If the department is to renovate or replace the current Vanier structure, it will have to find temporary housing for the football program, academic learning system and the weight room.

Currie said it will take some “short-term pain for some long-time gain.”

When someone walks into the Vanier Football Complex, they see the two Big 12 championship trophies, along with numerous bowl trophies, player rewards and names that reflect the past history of the program.

Currie said the improvements to the north end zone need to reflect that history, in the same way that the Basketball Training Facility does the men’s and women’s basketball programs.

“When you walk in that front side on the Kimball Avenue side, we want to look like who we are,” Currie said. “And we need to look like who we are.”

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