The University of Missouri System Board of Curators approved the hiring of Kansas City-based architecture firm Populous to design a new football facility in the south end zone at Memorial Stadium during a meeting Thursday in Columbia.
The proposed renovation, which still would need final board approval at the June meeting to proceed to construction, has been among first-year Tigers athletic director Jim Sterk’s top priorities since his arrival in August.
“We are grateful that the Board of Curators has approved the selection of one of the world’s premier architectural firms, Populous, to transform Memorial Stadium south end zone for the long-term benefit of Mizzou football,” Sterk said in a statement from the athletic department.
The 107,000-square foot, four-story facility will help Mizzou’s football program keep pace from an infrastructure standpoint with its Southeastern Conference brethren.
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The proposed new facility will include a new locker, dining room, weight room, training facility, coaches’ offices, state-of-the-art meeting rooms and more for the football team.
The decision was made in December to scrap plans for retrofitting the existing bowl in favor of demolition and reconstruction due to concerns about the foundation, which was built on a former landfill.
That decision added more than $20 million to the proposed $96.7 million price tag.
Currently, there are 10,800 general admission seats in the south end zone, which will be torn down to make way for 24 suites, a field-level club and 4,000 general admission seats.
The net result will be a reduction in the stadium’s current official capacity of 71,168.
Sterk — who has helped secure a fiscal-year record eight seven-figure donations, many earmarked specifically for the football facility project — said in December that demolition could begin before the 2017 season in hopes the project will be complete for the 2019 season.
The seating bowl won’t come down until after the season, Sterk told reporters Thursday in Columbia.
Roughly $44 million for the project has been raised through private donations with revenue bonds based on an expected revenue spike from the new premium-seating options paying for the rest.
“We deeply appreciate our loyal donors who have already come alongside us to make today’s step a reality and look forward to continuing our fund-raising momentum to keep this project on track to open ahead of the 2019 football season,” Sterk said in a statement.
The stadium opened in 1926 with a capacity of 25,000 and has undergone 11 substantial renovations, raising it to its current capacity of 71,168.
Seating was added to Memorial Stadium’s south end in 1977, closing the open end of the original horseshoe construction with 10,800 general admission seats.
More recently, the stadium’s west side was renovated in 2013 to add suites in place of the press box, which was moved up to the sixth floor.
A year later, the east-side expansion added the Tiger Deck with 4,200 general admission seats plus the Columns Club with 1,200 new club seats, bringing the stadium’s official capacity to 71,168.
The Tigers are 283-181-20, a .605 winning percentage, in 91 seasons at Memorial Stadium.