Board approves major addition, expansion of MSU's Spartan Stadium

Contact: Ron Mason, Intercollegiate Athletics, (517) 355-162; or Terry Denbow, University Relations, (517) 355-2262, denbow@msu.edu

Sep 12, 2003

EAST LANSING, Mich. - A major addition and expansion of Spartan Stadium was approved today by the Michigan State University Board of Trustees.

The 200,000-gross-square-foot project includes the addition of nearly 3,000 seats, 24 new suites, a new press box, upgraded public restrooms and concessions, and expanded concourse space.

The addition also will house the MSU Alumni Association, University Development, the MSU Foundation and the 4-H Foundation. In addition, the MSU icon, "The Spartan" statue, will have a permanent home there when a replica is unveiled in 2005.

The suites, as well as an additional 862 club seats, will offer fans a larger variety of seating options, ranging from family plans to corporate plans, and levels in between. Athletics Director Ron Mason said the price range on the suites will be $35,000 to $80,000, while club seating will range from $4,500 to $6,500.

"This project is one that responds to the needs and demands of many fans and supporters and provides the financial support needed to keep our program competitive," Mason noted. "Our information indicates support for the range of options being offered."

Mason emphasized that the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics does not have access to general fund dollars.

"As we adhere to the mandate to be self-supporting, we are called to provide new revenue to meet the expectations of Spartan athletic programs to be diverse and broad based, as well as the expectation that our facilities remain competitive within the Big Ten and nationally," he said.

The cost of the total project is estimated at $61 million, with a large portion of the funds provided by athletics, said Fred Poston, vice president for finance and operations. About $11 million of the costs for University Development and the Alumni Association will be funded from the lease costs for development's current off-campus space, he said. The athletics portion will be funded by revenues generated from the project and through debt service.

Construction will begin in November 2003, with everything except office space expected to be completed by the 2005 football season. The MSU Alumni Association, University Development and the other units are expected to move in by January 2006.

"The stadium project is in concert with the university's 2020 Master Plan and provides a new revenue stream for the athletics department to support long-term financial needs," Poston said. "Careful design has been a critical component of the planning effort to make sure the structure preserves the principles of our campus planning goals."

Vice President for University Development Charles Webb said the new location for his division is a "long-awaited, positive move."

"It is crucial that our staff be centrally located on campus," he said. "We are excited that access to our staff and offices will be much easier, and that our role as central-university advocates will be enhanced symbolically as well as very practically."

For many, the news that "The Spartan" will have a new home is also long awaited. The statue, commonly known as "Sparty," has stood at the entrance of the athletic complex for nearly 60 years. Standing 9 feet 7 inches tall and weighing an estimated 5,000 pounds, it is believed to be the largest freestanding ceramic sculpture in the world.

Because of weather and other factors, experts estimate that "Sparty" couldn't survive "living outside" for much longer. A $500,000 project is underway to replace the original statue with a bronze replica, ready for MSU's sesquicentennial celebrations in 2005.

"MSU alumni throughout the world are eagerly supporting our Sparty project, and we now are able to answer the question most are asking, 'Where's the original statue going?'" said Keith Williams, executive director of the MSU Alumni Association, currently housed in the MSU Union Building. "And we in the Alumni Association, as well as our members across the globe, are gratified that we, too, will have a brand-new home."