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Dedication, statue unveiling are preludes to season-opener

By Joel Jellison

The king of Kansas State football got a new castle Friday as coach Bill Snyder cut the ribbon on the $90 million West Stadium Center.

Snyder joined K-State President Kirk Schulz, athletic director John Currie and Gov. Sam Brownback in a ceremony to open the 215,000 square foot facility, which completes Phase II of a six-phase project to improve the area around Bramlage Coliseum and Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

The final touch of the project was a tribute to Snyder, a 7-foot-5 bronze statue of the coach and dedicated to his family, just as the stadium was.

The sculpture of Snyder features his classic gameday look, with a windbreaker and his signature tennis shoes, holding a sheet in his right hand.

The statue, covered by a black sheet until the end of the program, was unveiled by Snyder’s children, grandchildren and great grandchild, who are also honored by having their handprints in its base.

On the back of the statue, a simple dedication from the Vanier family reads, “Coach Bill Snyder. Teacher, gentleman, and friend.”

“There are so many things that have happened during the past two and a half decades — it culminated with this facility,” Snyder said. “I remember so many things that are attributed to so many people that have really made a difference to this university, this community and this football program.”

A crowd of nearly 1,500 braved the sun and hot temperature to get a look at the statue and the completed stadium behind it. The event came just hours before it opened for the Wildcats’ game against North Dakota State.

Turning to look at the massive structure, Brownback described it as having a classic, iconic look.

“Places have character,” Brownback said. “When its leadership displays the character, the people thrive. Kirk Schulz, coach Snyder, Collin Klein, display the K-State character — commitment, humility, family values — the athletic director, Currie, they all display those same characteristics. Now there’s a new face on the stadium.

“This is a good place, with a bright new face and the same good heart.”

Schulz, who was presented with his 2012-13 Big 12 men’s basketball championship ring, said this is just the beginning of advancements to campus facilities.

“This is the K-State of the future,” he said. “We’ve done a lot of wonderful things with athletic enhancements over the past few years, and you’ll see the same kind of wonderful projects to the south on campus over the next few years. This is simply the first step as we move forward to being a top 50 public research university by 2025.”

Sen. Pat Roberts, who was jokingly introduced as the assistant, assistant tight ends coach, said the West Stadium Center project has made the building more than just a stadium.

“It’s the gateway to the campus,” Roberts said. “Everybody that comes there comes there for a reason. They come for the tremendous experience. This is going to make it outstanding.”

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