The price tag for Missouri’s proposed football facility in the south end zone at Memorial Stadium is going up 33 percent.
Tigers athletic director Jim Sterk announced revised plans for the project on Friday during a news conference with football coach Barry Odom at the stadium.
Based on the recommendation from architects, Mizzou will not try to retrofit the new facility and instead will demolish the south end zone structure and completely rebuilt it.
“After a lengthy discussion with our architects and our consultants, we believe it’s a better option to take down the existing south bowl rather than leaving the structure (and) trying to retrofit around it,” Sterk said. “We’re going to start from scratch and build it up and build something very special.”
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Practical concerns for construction — including issues with the existing infrastructure and its foundation on the site of a former landfill — played a role in the decision along with practical concerns about the impact the new facility could have for the athletic department.
“If we go this route, there will be more opportunities for premium seating,” Sterk said. “... Our stadium is low in the percentage of premium seating areas, and there is a demand.”
Sterk said it also “will give us the ability to create more space for the football program and its operations” to build a new structure.
Unfortunately, it also significantly adds to construction costs, bumping estimates up from $75 million into “the neighborhood of $95-100 million,” Sterk said.
The elements of the facility, which will be up for approval from the University of Missouri System Board of Curators in February, remain largely unchanged.
That football operations center will house coaches’ offices and meeting space, an equipment room, locker room, team lounge, virtual reality simulation meeting rooms, a training room with hydrotherapy and a new weight room.
Sterk said plans call for 20 to 24 suites plus a field-level club area and private club seating. There also will be a new concourse, restrooms and concession area, new scoreboard and as many as 5,000 general seats closer to the field.
“This project for us is a game-changer,” Odom said. “It’s something that will have everything that our kids need. … The impact that it will have on them (is) on providing them everything we can at a championship-level to go be our best.”
It’s unclear how Memorial Stadium’s capacity — currently 71,168 — will be impacted, but Sterk said there will be an overall reduction. The south end zone currently has 10,000 seats.
Sterk said the goal is for construction to be completed by the 2019 season, but the timeline won’t come into clear focus until the project is formally approved.
However, the process of selecting an architect and construction firm for the two-year construction project already is underway.
The hope is that the project can help propel the Tigers’ football program to new heights.
“Gary Pinkel said it well,” Sterk said. “When the MATC was renovated 10 or 12 years ago, that really helped him springboard and helped him compete for championships. I think this can do the same thing for Barry.”
Sterk said revenue bonds based on new premium-seating income will be used to pay for the project’s increased price.
Sterk said Mizzou has raised roughly $45 million for the project and hopes to secure at least $50 million in funding, which would reduce the bond obligations.
Sterk isn’t certain how capacity will be affected for upcoming seasons as the south end zone could be demolished before the 2017 season, including Mizzou’s game-day locker room.
“We use that six times a year for our home games, and if we need to make adjustments to get this going as urgently and fastly as we can, I’m willing to make that change,” Odom said. “We may have to dress across the street and find a way to get here, but it’s a small price for us to be able to get this going.”
The new facility — which will create as many as 1,200 jobs and generate $44 million in new salaries in the region, according to estimate from MU’s consulting firm Convention, Sports and Leisure — would alleviate stress on the Mizzou Athletics Training Complex by moving football out and creating additional space for the non-revenue sports currently housed alongside football in that facility.
“There’s probably a land grab as we’re speaking as far as our sports in there,” Sterk said. “They’re wondering when Barry’s going to leave his office and they’ll be looking. Seriously, though, we have a couple years to analyze how best to use that space and we’ll be looking at that.”
Among the major contributions to the project, Mizzou announced a $10 million gift Sept. 8 from the Kansas City Sports Trust and an $8 million gift a few weeks later as well as a series of additional seven-figure donations.