Masses of purple moved toward Bill Snyder Family Stadium Saturday afternoon as the Wildcats prepared to take on the Missouri State Bears. Fans had been warned to expect some minor inconveniences due to the $75 million West Stadium Center project and newly restricted parking, most didn’t let it affect their pre-game tailgating ritual or their enjoyment of the outcome, a 51-9 Wildcat victory.
Greg Wilson, of Abilene, is part of a group of more than 20 friends and family members who have made it a practice to gather together on game-day weekends. They made their way through the miles-long construction zone that is K-18 and rolled up to Bill Snyder Family Stadium as quickly as they ever had.
“We flew in,” Wilson said.
That assessment held for any construction-related inconveniences experienced around the stadium itself, which group members characterized as minor. Hannah Uhart, Wilson’s daughter, characterized things as business as usual.
Wilson believes Manhattan is doing a better job of routing traffic compared to years past.
“We were pretty surprised traffic wasn’t backed up the way we thought it would be,” Hannah Uhart said. “I don’t think it held up anything.”
The family holds season tickets in the fifth row of the stadium’s south end and has been coming to K-State home games since 1993. They have been coming in an RV since 1996. Wilson said the tailgates almost act as mini family vacations and proudly noted that 18 people from the group hold undergraduate degrees from K-State.
“It’s a tight-knit group,” Wilson said.
They seemed energized about the stadium improvements, rather than frustrated with any perceived inconveniences due to them.
“I think it’s going to be great once it’s complete,” Hannah Uhart said. “It’s what K-State needs to be recognized and compete.”
Wilson and Jon Uhart, Hannah’s husband, were actually in Ft. Worth when the plans for the project were announced prior to the Cotton Bowl. Wilson said there were “tears and cheers,” and both admitted to being among the many whose eyes welled that day.
“I never even thought about how much we needed it until we saw that,” Wilson said.
They each predicted a strong performance this season from the Wildcats, although Jon Uhart admits the bar was set high at his first home game—a 29-28 victory over Nebraska in the snow during the 2000 season. He predicted and subsequently convinced Wilson that the Wildcats will go 10-2 this year.
It remains to be seen whether K-State will live up to that prediction, but one thing is certain: the K-State faithful can’t wait for the football season to get underway.
“We’re ready,” Hannah Uhart said. “We’re ready for the fall, we’re ready for football.”