Kansas State fans will want to take a long look around the Wildcats’ football stadium before heading home after the West Virginia game on Saturday.
The place will look different next season.
K-State announced Tuesday that it has raised $11 million toward a $15 million renovation to the northeast side of Bill Snyder Family Stadium, enough to begin construction. Work will began at the conclusion of the season. The project should be ready in time for the 2016 season. A groundbreaking ceremony will occur prior to K-State’s final game of the regular season at noon Saturday.
The project, which was previously announced as part of K-State’s master plan of facility enhancements in 2010, will fully enclose the football stadium, allowing fans to walk around the entire stadium for the first time. It will also include a new video board that will mirror the one on the northwest end of the stadium, new seating for the K-State marching band and a permanent locker room for visiting teams.
K-State originally planned to include those additions when it built a new football complex last offseason, but opted to split the renovations into two phases. Combined with the West Stadium Center, K-State athletic director John Currie says K-State has committed to $180 million worth of football facility upgrades in a four-year window.
“We try to operate with a great deal of urgency,” Currie said Tuesday, “when you look at where we are today compared to where we were seven years ago. As we honor the work that Coach Snyder has done here to really create what this whole athletics program is all about.
“Sustainability is part of how we honor him, and sustainability well into the future with strong facilities is very important to us.”
Currie said K-State is already targeting future renovations within the football stadium, including extending the limestone wall behind the north end zone around the entire field. Replacing the video board behind the south end zone with two more corner video boards is also an option.
“Many of the people who made gifts to the basketball training facility made bigger gifts to the West Stadium Center and then even bigger gifts to the Vanier complex,” Currie said. “We are proud of that. It shows that the initial investments that our fans and our donors made into the initial project, they felt like we delivered good value for their investment.”
Currie supports 5-7 bowl trip
When Currie realized K-State may qualify for a bowl game with five victories instead of the usual six, he told Snyder the decision to accept a bowl invitation, should the Wildcats finish 5-7, would be Snyder’s to make.
The goal is for K-State to beat West Virginia and qualify for a bowl the old fashioned way at 6-6, but in the event that doesn’t happen, Snyder says he will let players decide the team’s postseason fate.
Currie said he supports the idea of K-State playing in a bowl with a losing record this season, even if the trip loses money for the athletic department, citing extra practices and a fun experience for players.
Junior linebacker Will Davis said he couldn’t envision a scenario in which K-State players would vote against a bowl. The plan, it seems, is for the Wildcats to play in the postseason regardless of Saturday’s outcome.
However, in future years Currie hopes bowls adopt a system in which teams with losing records aren’t considered for the postseason. His solution: forcing newly certified bowls to go dark if they don’t have enough eligible teams to fill them.
Filling a record 40 bowls this season with teams that aren’t eligible, he said, was a shortsighted plan.
“The correct move, in hindsight, would have been to say when you certify a bowl, ‘Hey, warning now. You may be certified, but if you don’t have enough 6-6 teams you may not be able to have a game,’” Currie said. “We got a little crossed up there, probably because people didn’t think it would really happen. We have to go back and plug that gap.”
No senior day for Barnett
Snyder said senior defensive back Dante Barnett won’t participate in K-State’s senior day ceremony on Saturday because he will request a medical redshirt at the end of the season, allowing him to return for a fifth season.
Barnett suffered a season-ending injury in the first game and has watched every game since from the sideline.
Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett