Missouri’s athletic department is planning to build a new south end zone complex at Memorial Stadium that is expected to include new football offices, a weight room, training room and new locker room.
The idea for the expansion came out of a conversation between Missouri coach Gary Pinkel and MU athletic director Mike Alden over coffee six weeks ago. MU will push back already approved plans for a full-length indoor football practice facility to build the new complex.
The project also could include new premium seating and set the stage for an eventual upper deck and enclosure of the south end of Memorial Stadium, Alden said during a news conference Thursday at Mizzou Arena.
MU executive associate athletic director Bryan Maggard said he expects a scope analysis to take place after the first of the year. After the athletic department finalizes details of the new project, the University of Missouri System Board of Curators would have to approve the revised plan before bids could be solicited for design and construction.
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Alden said typically such a project would require nine to 12 months to design and, after the bid process, 24 to 30 months to build. Until final plans are ironed out, it won’t be possible to put a price tag on the project, Alden said.
“An attractive concept, for me at least, in this type of project is that it benefits all of our programs,” Maggard said. “It’s much more than just enhancing the football program. What it does, in essence, is it frees very valuable space up in the Mizzou Athletics Training Complex.”
Alden said Pinkel believes the south end zone complex should be a bigger priority because Missouri already has an indoor practice facility — the 70-yard Dan Devine Pavilion.
“(Pinkel) was saying, ‘Where am I going to get the biggest bang for recruiting? Where is the biggest wow factor for recruiting?’” Alden said. “He believes, and I agree with him on this, you’re going to get a bigger ‘wow’ factor with an end-zone complex and what we’re trying to do there than you would for a new indoor facility.”
The Mizzou Athletic Training Complex (MATC) currently houses MU coaching staffs, a student-athlete dining hall, tutoring operations, a weight room, a training facility and administrative offices.
“We’re crawling all over ourselves in the MATC right now,” Alden said. “Not only football, but all of our sports programs are. It frees up space for football, but it also frees up space for everybody else. Gary looked at that as a win-win for everybody.”
It’s also a chance to strike while the iron is hot with the Tigers football team playing in a second consecutive SEC Championship Game at 3 p.m. Saturday against Alabama at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
“I think certainly, with all the success that (Pinkel) has had and our staff has had and our program has had, you want to keep that thing growing,” Alden said. “This gives us an opportunity to focus in on a very highly visible, but also a very effective project for us. That’s a testament for him.”
Maggard said some money that was slated for the indoor facility can be redirected to the south end zone project, “but there’s more money to be raised. The magnitude of this project is much greater from a cost standpoint that the indoor facility,” he said.
The dining hall and academic support areas would remain at the current training complex.
Missouri renovated the Memorial Stadium press box and brought the iconic rock “M” closer to the field before the 2013 season. An east-side expansion including premium seating and an upper deck opened before the 2014 season, giving Memorial Stadium a capacity of 71,168.
“For right now, for Mizzou, we’re right in the sweet spot,” Alden said.
Eventually, capacity would increase to roughly 80,000 with the addition of a south upper deck, but ticket demand will dictate when that happens.
“I think you’ve got to be consistently putting 71,000-plus in there for Central Florida and for a game that determines whether we go to the SEC Championship Game or not,” Alden said.
Missouri and other SEC schools expect an influx of cash from the SEC Network, but Alden said he doesn’t expect to have revenue figures for the first year of the joint SEC/ESPN venture until May or June.
While Thursday’s announcement does not impact plans to build a new softball stadium east of the Hearnes Center, Alden isn’t sure what it means for a timetable for building the full-length indoor practice facility, which is already being designed and will be constructed west of the training complex.
“The minute we get this thing rolling, I’m pretty confident he’s (Pinkel) going say, ‘OK, when are we getting that new indoor facility?’” Alden said.