Twenty seasons of memories fell to the ground when crews imploded the Dev Nelson Press Box at K-State’s Bill Snyder Family Stadium early Saturday morning.
“Today is a huge day and a step forward, continuing leadership and a vision that started 25 years ago,” Athletic Director John Currie said.
At 9 a.m., donors and community members filled the second level of suites on the east side of the stadium, across the field from the press box.
“This is an emotional day for me and many others,” said Laird Veatch, senior associate athletic director at K-State. “It’s also very symbolic in many respects to the athletes who have played on this field in the shadow of the Dev Nelson Press Box.”
Veatch, who played in the press box’s debut game against New Mexico State in 1993, said he felt nostalgic watching the press box’s final game Dec. 1 against Texas.
“It was a surreal moment after that game when the fog lifted, knowing it was the last game for the press box,” Veatch said.
Many happy memories have been shared in the structure, he said, including many victory toasts during Coach Bill Snyder’s successful tenures. For old times’ sake, Veatch raised a glass to the structure as it made way for a bigger, newer facility, before the demolition countdown started.
“It’s sad but exciting,” said Snyder’s wife, Sharon, who has spent years appreciating the amenities of the Dev Nelson Press Box.
The five-story, $3.3-million structure included 22 luxury suites and a media center, which spanned a large portion of the west side of the stadium.
“When it was first built, the Dev Nelson Press Box was the Taj Mahal of press boxes in the Midwest,” said Kenny Lannou, assistant athletics director of communications.
College and Kimball avenues were closed for the blast, as were most of the parking areas near the stadium for added safety during the implosion. However, that didn’t keep many spectators from assembling along the sidewalks near Mercy Regional Health Center and the back side of the stadium to watch the structure collapse.
Mortensen Construction and GE Johnson Construction have begun working on the new structure, the West Stadium Center (WSC), a $75-million facility. They started in early fall and will continue until the 2013 fall semester. The WSC will be more than twice as big as Dev Nelson, spanning from the north to south of the west side of the stadium. It’s projected to open Aug. 31, 2013, for a night game.
According to Lannou, it will have 125 percent more restrooms and concessions for K-State fans, a dining facility able to feed 450 athletes seven days a week, a hall of honor, a large media level, a presidential suite and a university lounge that will be available for the public.
“We don’t have a sense of entitlement here, and that is why we have been able to accomplish so much,” Currie said. “Our challenge is not just to be one of 70 schools in the big five conferences but to make great decisions over the next five to 10 years so when we look back in 10 to 20 years we are not just one of 70 but an established national brand of K-State athletics.”