While the results of Friday’s season opener against North Dakota State weren’t what fans had in mind, the opening of the West Stadium Center at Bill Snyder Family Stadium proved to be a hit.
A sellout crowd of more than 53,000 got their first glimpse of Kansas State’s new stadium addition that features improved fan amenities and plenty of space to move around.
The 215,000-square foot facility boasts not only more room for fans on the enlarged concourse, but twice as many restrooms and concession stands as well as a walk-through set of displays featuring each of K-State’s athletic programs, with interactive touch-screen monitors. On the south end of the structure, K-State has transformed the space that housed the Cats’ Closet into a larger retail outlet for all things K-State, dubbed “The K-State Super Store at the Stadium”.
The concourse has more than 375 closed-circuit televisions for those wanting to use the facilities or escape unfavorable weather without missing a minute of action on the field.
All told, the $90-million structure was popular among fans exploring it for the first time.
“It’s absolutely impressive,” said K-State fan Patrick Karcz of Kansas City, Kan. “I’ve seen the pictures, but they did no justice to it. I played golf at Colbert Hills this morning, and drove across Kimball and saw it across the tree line. When I saw it – I was speechless.”
Karcz said he likes the amenities added to the concourse, but was most looking forward to hearing the impact it had on the crowd noise and the game itself.
“I know one thing – we never had a concourse before,” Karcz said. “I’m seeing a big concourse, touch-screens, and flat-screens. I’m pretty excited to hear this echo coming from the student section bumping off this new part of the stadium.”
Polly Ellis, who lives in Overland Park but was born and raised in Manhattan, said she’s proud of the way the building looks and reflects on both the team and the community.
“It’s overwhelming to me, because I’ve been coming to this stadium since I was a baby,” she said. “It’s just wonderful.”
With a full stadium and extra fans coming over to the west side to see the new structure, the concourse was crowded as it got closer to game time. As people moved to their seats, the expanded concourse became easier to navigate.
While the original budget for the project was $75 million, an extra $15 million was spent on add-ons in the form of new stadium lighting, as well as new signage throughout the stadium and upgrades to some of the existing concession stands. They also built a new studio for K-StateHD.TV and changed the layout of the south endzone concourse to include a picnic area that eliminates the walk-through path between Bramlage and Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
Most of the people wandering about hadn’t had a chance to see everything the new addition has to offer, though they’ll have their chance in the coming weeks. While the jury may still be out on how the amenities will improve the overall fan experience, first impressions indicate the building is a hit amongst fans.
“I think it looks great,” said Gary Dorrell of Highland. “We’ve got a great crowd tonight, and I’ve just started looking around. So far, everything is looking like it came together well.”