Missouri will seek fan input in naming the new additions to Memorial Stadium, including the upper deck and club area on the stadium’s east side as well as a new tailgate area.
Athletic director Mike Alden made that pronouncement Wednesday during a Google Hangout on GaryPinkel.com.
Alden said Missouri will ask the fans to submit suggestions “in the not too distant future” for what to call the new additions.
Among other highlights, Alden also said the Tigers continue to hold out hope for a resumption of the Border War with Kansas.
“At some point, we’ve got to keep moving forward, which is what we’re doing,” Alden said. “Our hope someday is that the University of Kansas, who we have a high regard for, is going to say let’s go ahead and play again. They know that we’d like to be able to do it. Hopefully, it will happen, but we certainly have reached out and continue to reach out to make that happen.”
Of course, Missouri is enjoying its honeymoon period in the Southeastern Conference for now and looks for to the launch of the ESPN-backed SEC Network in August.
“The impact that it’s going to have on the entire University of Missouri is something unlike anything we’ve ever seen before,” Alden said.
The national distribution base, which will spread the Mizzou brand well beyond the state’s borders “is going to be great for the recruiting of students,” he said.
Alden said ticket sales for the new seating sections being built at Memorial Stadium are going well, but he also emphasized that Missouri isn’t finished with infrastructure upgrades.
“We’ve got to continue to invest in our facilities for all of our sports,” he said.
For football, the next phase might include continued expansion at Memorial Stadium, a new indoor facility and upgrades to the Mizzou Athletic Training Complex.
“Everything’s changed, but you have to and you have to invest,” Missouri football coach Gary Pinkel said. “Everybody’s competing with other schools and all that they have going facility-wise and all that they have to offer. … Facilities are a visual aid for commitment and recruits compare them. It’s so very important.”
Still, he said Missouri’s people are even more important — the academic support staff, training staff, strength coaches, equipment managers and food service staff.
“All these people help our players be successful and they want to be the best,” Pinkel said. “I want the cook here to want to be first-team All-SEC.”
Aside from football, Alden also lauded the accomplishments Missouri has made this year in non-revenue sports, including an SEC championship in volleyball, the softball team’s ongoing success and a 16th-place finish for the Tigers swim team last week at nationals.
Of course, freshman wrestler J’den Cox dominated that conversation. Cox won the 197-pound title at the NCAA Division I wrestling championships March 22, becoming the first Missouri wrestler and 14th true freshman in NCAA history to strike gold.
“I just don’t know if (Cox) has any football eligibility left,” Pinkel joked.
Pinkel also touched on the evolving role of the student-athlete in the brave new world of social media.
“Our players, we pretty much tell them it’s a press release” any time they post something on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, Pinkel said. He also reminds players that they always represent Missouri, too.
Of course, it’s also a brave new world for the coaches — including Pinkel, who’s post-Cotton Bowl locker room dance went viral and drew plenty of mostly amusing commentary from fans and players alike.
“When you’ve got 126 players, you’ve got a lot of opinions,” Pinkel said. “Would I have done that five years ago? No, there’s not in a million years I would have done that.”