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K-State breaks ground on massive project

By Cole Manbeck

Approximately a dozen people put on hardhats, grabbed a shovel and dug into some dirt just outside the gates of Bill Snyder Stadium on Saturday, marking the beginning of one of the biggest projects in the history of Kansas State athletics.

K-State held a groundbreaking ceremony on the West Stadium Center Campaign yesterday β€” a $75 million overhaul of the west side of Bill Snyder Family Stadium that displays K-State’s commitment to athletics and the overall student-athlete experience.

“It’s another day where K-State plants its flag and says we’re here and we’re going to be a part of the national conversation,” K-State athletic director John Currie said. “And we’re always going to be a part of the national conversation.”

In a day in age where college realignment is an ongoing saga, Currie believes this project will make a national statement.

“Those ongoing evolutions, are we in or not?” Currie said. “What this day is β€” it’s another firm, concrete example that we’re in. K-State is in. If we’re going to be in, we’ve got to invest like we’re in.”

The project, which will be finished in time for the 2013 football season, will not only make a splash both locally and nationally, but it also speaks volumes to the job Currie and president Kirk Schulz have done in their three years at K-State.

“I think they’re amazing,” said Mike Goss, who along with his wife Becky have donated a significant amount of money toward the project. “The energy level that both of those guys show and just the enthusiasm β€” it’s contagious. I don’t think we ever would have thought, especially in this economy, that we would be able to take on the basketball training facility and then a major stadium expansion like this at the same time essentially. That’s a lot to take on at a time but they have plowed ahead and have shown great leadership in this.”

Goss, a 1981 graduate of K-State, is the managing director and Chief Operating Officer of Bain Capital, a company headquartered in Boston, and he said it didn’t take him long to buy in to Currie and Schulz, who inherited a mess as a result of the secret contract between former football coach Ron Prince and athletic director Bob Krause.

“They’ve bent over backwards to make sure there’s accountability and transparency,” he said. “I think they already have the trust back of the fans. It didn’t take very long. You just have to show you’re sincere and earnest. The one thing about both John and Kirk is they’re both very sincere and very earnest and therefore they’ve earned our trust back.”

The project, which will feature a training table for all of K-State’s student athletes, as well as new luxury suites, club-level seating and several new fan amenities, will encompass 250,000 square feet of new facilities.

Currie said $45 million for the project has been raised, reiterating that no state or tuition dollars will be used for the revenue-generating project.

Goss, who was just a young child when KSU Stadium (now Bill Snyder Family Stadium) was being constructed, said he would have never dreamed the stadium would reach a point to where it’d undergo a project of this magnitude.

“It was hard to imagine it would ever be anything bigger than the 35,000 people that it was when it was first built,” he said. “But boy it’s really filled in nicely out here. This is quite an athletic complex when you consider Bramlage now and the practice facilities and the brand new basketball practice facility. This is a cool place.

“I can’t imagine how great it’s going to be when we have this new structure out here. It’s almost like we’re building a new cathedral for something we all want to come be at and enjoy.”

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