New Missouri athletic director Jim Sterk presented a proposal to the University of Missouri System Board of Curators for a new football facility in the south end zone at Memorial Stadium during Thursday’s meeting at UMKC.
“This is still on a master plan level, so they’re just looking at it as, ‘OK, athletics is going to do something here. We need to be aware of that,’ ” Sterk said. “That’s what I’m doing today. It’s an update of the master plan that we’re going to look at and study the south end zone.”
The proposal — including a new training facility, cafeteria, locker rooms, coaches’ offices and recruiting area — isn’t ready for approval and probably won’t be until early 2017.
The project also will shore up some foundation issues caused by shifting ground on the former landfill site and will include new video boards as well as additional premium seating, new restrooms and concession stands.
“The next time we come to (the MU System Board of Curators), we hope to have our architect picked, our funding in place and an estimate of expenses and programming,” Sterk said.
Currently, Mizzou has raised $56 million of the $75 million budget for the project, including $25 million in bonds from premium seating and $31 million in private donations.
“The next steps are the master planning with HOK (an architecture firm from Kansas City) and meet with each of the areas — the strength staff and football coaches and all that,” Sterk said. “We’ll decide exactly what we’re going to include in there.”
He stressed that fans shouldn’t get too worked up about photos that were included in the power-point presentation for the curators.
“The pictures that are out there, those are just placeholders,” Sterk said. “As we design this thing, they’ll be nicer and pretty.”
Sterk was in town Thursday to speak at the Tiger Club of Kansas City’s weekly meeting at Westport Flea Market.
The club usually meets on Tuesdays, but moved it this week to accommodate Sterk’s visit for the curators’ meeting.
Before he spoke with Mizzou fans, I asked for his response to the more than $3.35 million civil judgment former San Diego State women’s basketball coach Beth Burns was awarded last week by a jury, stemming from Sterk’s firing of her before joining the Tigers.
“I was just surprised and we’ll see where it goes from here,” Sterk said. “I haven’t really spoken to someone at the university. They’re weighing their options, and they don’t consult me on that.”
Here are a few more highlights from his hourlong Q&A with Mizzou fans:
▪ Illinois is interested in restarting a football series with Missouri. Sterk seemed open to the idea (as well as the idea of rekindling the dormant Border War with Kansas), but he also noted that the Tigers’ football schedules are filled for the next few seasons.
Mizzou doesn’t have an open date until 2020 and already has a game at BYU slated for that season. The Tigers have two open dates in 2021 and three in 2022, 2023 and 2025.
▪ MU is working to capture a share of the St. Louis market that is underserved after the Rams’ departure for Los Angeles.
Sterk said the Tigers are working to identify former Rams season-ticket members in an effort to reach out and is using former Budweiser executive, Mike Owens, as a liaison with the St. Louis Sports Commission.
There was a grassroots effort in St. Louis to have Owens considered for Missouri’s athletic director position after Mack Rhoades’ mid-July resignation.
Instead, his ties in St. Louis are being used in other ways.
“There’s a huge opportunity that we have and Mike will be leading the charge,” Sterk said.
▪ Sterk reiterated that the new softball stadium east of the Hearnes Center — a $17.5 million project, which will be among the largest softball parks in the SEC — should be completed in March.
Games earlier in the season will be played at University Field.
▪ Speaking of the Hearnes Center, it’s “irreplaceable” in some respects, according to Sterk, because of all the sports it houses along with an array of administrative offices.
He said it would cost at least $5 million just to demolish the building, but there are no immediate plans relating to the massive structure’s future.
▪ Missouri should receive between $36 million and $40 million in its disbursement from the Southeastern Conference this season. That includes shared revenue from the SEC Network, bowl games and other cash streams.
▪ Sterk said basketball ticket sales are down from last season, but he believes there’s reason for Mizzou fans to be excited.
“You should see some great improvement,” he said. “It’s not championship level yet, but you will see great improvement.”
Sterk also said he considers this season as third-year coach Kim Anderson’s first season in some ways, because he inherited a tremendously difficult situation and had “two arms tied behind (his) back” during the first two years.
That assessment drew applause from the assembled crowd.
▪ Mizzou needs $1.5 million to install turf in the Taylor Stadium infield and outfield, an upgrade he insists is necessary to help Tigers baseball become competitive in the SEC.