BOZEMAN – Montana State University has taken a big step toward the finish line for its Master Plan.
It’s been about 50 years since the last major upgrade for athletes at MSU and that looks like it is about to change.
Since 1958, student-athletes have had to share a space that was built for far less than who are competing and training there today.
Wednesday morning, university leaders took that to the Montana Board of Regents, seeking approval on an expansion that would add 40,000 square feet of building space to Bobcat Stadium.
MSU Director of Athletics Leon Costello says it is more than football that will feel this.
“For the bang for the buck, it benefitted every single student-athlete and program that we had,” Costello says.
The Brick Fieldhouse and the Bobcat Stadium has seen thousands of students for decades. But, as Costello can vouch for, it needs to grow.
“It’s really the only project that we’ve done outside of some minor face-lifts within athletics since the end zone was completed in 2010,” Costello says. “To continue the growth that we see on campus, we need to catch up in athletics, as well.”
And to win the race, athletes will need to exercise their brains — that’s where the new space comes in.
“Our student-athletes do very well in the classroom and they graduate at a high rate,” Costello said. “Now, with this space, we will be able to focus on maybe a little bit more details of their needs.”
He added the process is just about in the end zone and when it’s all done, the whole northern part of the field — along with other parts of MSU that will be renovated — will transform, giving athletes that want to call themselves Bobcats a place to study and even more than that.
“We’ll have a weight room in the new facility,” Costello said. “We will have a weight room still in this building. We will have athletic training services in that facility. We will have athletic training services here.”
It adds up to 40,000 square feet and two stories of new space, not to mention 3,500 square feet more renovated across the street at the Fieldhouse.
You take the football program and move it over to the new area, Costello says that’s space that is well-needed.
“It should provide them with better time to get and eat proper meals, better times to study, get their classwork done, and then better times to sleep,” Costello explained.
As of Wednesday, out of the $18 million price tag, $16.5 million of that has already been raised.
“We have had approximately 300 individual donors to this with about 320 donations,” Costello told MTN News, adding that with help from donors, athletics can work more to get ahead, less to catch up.
“As people drive onto campus, onto Kagy, you know, they are going to see this facility and it’s going to be a great way to welcome them to our campus and it’s going to be kind of the face maybe now of our athletic programs,” Costello said.
“We need certain services and certain resources to be able to attract and retain student-athletes, to attract and retain really coaches, as well. For us to be on that level, we needed more space.”
Costello told MTN News that the university is hopeful they can raise the rest of the money by the end of the summer. Then, they can get shovels in the dirt starting in the fall.
Once the project starts, he says it will take 14 to 16 months to finish, including the process of moving staff to the new space.