MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) -- Kansas State University is getting ready to kick off the football season against North Dakota State and as thousands of fans flock to the game, they'll get their first look at the stadium's new features, facade and a tribute to the longtime football coach.
Kansas State University Athletic Director John Currie says the massive expansion project at Bill Snyder Family Stadium was designed with one thing in mind- to give fans and athletes the ultimate experience.
"It’s an historical moment for Kansas State and it’s a great step forward for our university and our athletics program," he said Thursday. "We start off right away with basic safety and security- better entrances, 200% more restrooms, ADA seating that’s now under cover, all of this concourse space to provide people with shelter, this Hall of Fame display of the heritage programs. It gives 50,000 people the opportunity to learn more about the history and heritage of K-State Athletics."
Currie gave members of the media a tour of the new West Stadium Center Thursday before the Wildcats season-opening game Friday night.
The 215,000-square foot facility is the centerpiece of Phase II of the six-phase Bill Snyder Family Stadium Master Plan. A total of $90 million has been invested in Bill Snyder Family Stadium in the past 16 months
Everywhere you look, there are nods to the school’s iconic coach.
"None of this would be here if it wasn’t for Coach Snyder. This is a continuation of his efforts…. Coach Snyder is one of the most transformational figures in the history of our state," Currie told reporters.
Besides new fan amenities, the center also boasts a new student athlete dining center, suites, press box, merchandise outlet and nearly 400 televisions to keep fans in the loop.
In a press release, K-State Athletics officials went to state: :The viewing experience of fans both in the stadium and on television has been tremendously improved with new field lighting mounted on new structural standards atop the east side, while new parking lot lighting enhances the area’s safety and security. Dramatic new graphics and signage throughout the facility,, modern food service equipment, a new K-StateHD.TV high definition production and video board control studio, and expansion and reconfiguration of the south concourse to include a family friendly picnic area are among the additions to the project."
The entire project is being funded through a combination of private construction gifts, premium seat contributions from Ahearn Fund members and athletics department revenue.
"It’s another statement that Kansas State is going to be part of the highest echelon of intercollegiate athletics. It’s a statement for our university that we do things in a first class manner. It’s also the new northwest entry to our campus. Tomorrow will be a historic day for K-State and our fans and our student athletes and our coaches and really the whole state of Kansas," Currie said.
The West Stadium Center dedication celebration kicked off Friday and was broadcast live on K-StateHD.TV. The ceremony will included special video presentations and comments from Governor Sam Brownback, President Kirk Schulz, John Currie, and Bill Snyder. The huge crowd gathered for the ribbon cutting ceremony also saw video messages from the cast of Modern Family, including K-State alum Eric Stonestreet, and Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Terence Newman, also a K-State alum, congratulating the university on the enhanced stadium structure and wishing them well for the season.
The celebration will concluded with a special unveiling of a statue of Coach Snyder in honor of him and his family.
The statue stands 11 1/2 feet tall, is construed of bronze and granite and weighs 1,800 pounds.
Nationally acclaimed Kansas artist Spencer Schubert created the sculpture and designed it to highlight Synder's dignified sideline demeanor, along with his leadership and decisiveness.
Snyder's wife Sharon made a number of trips to Schubert's Kansas City studio to ensure all of the details were just right.
On the base of the statue are hand prints of Snyder's children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
When Snyder addressed the crowd, he thanked his family and friends for their continued support. He says when he first took the coaching job at K-State, officials were considering shutting down the football program because there was not enough fan attendance at games (an average of 13,000 fans in the stands) but now, there are more than 50,000 fans at games.
"There are so many things that have happened during the past two and a half decades to be culminated with this beautiful facility, wonderful facility, very usable facility. I remember so many things that are attributed to so many people who have really made a difference in this university, this community and certainly our athletic and football programs," he said.
The 7:30 PM sold-out match up between the Wildcats and Bison, which will be broadcast nationally on FOX Sports 1.