Missouri State Hosts Open House for New Facilities

By Nick Thompson | nthompson@kolr10.com

Published 08/24 2014 10:18PM

Updated 08/24 2014 10:47PM

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - Missouri State University fans and alumni got their first chance Sunday afternoon to tour five brand-new athletic facilities on campus. 

MSU has made more than $30 million in improvements since students voted last fall to pay a new $50 per semester fee known as the "Bear Fee." 

The facility improvements include new stands at Robert W. Plaster Stadium, new basketball locker rooms at John Q. Hammons Arena, two new stadiums for Olympic, non-revenue sports like soccer and a new academic achievement center for student athletes.  

MSU Athletic Director Kyle Moats said the new $13 million bleachers at the football stadium are a point of pride, not an eyesore like the old stands. 

Students like Sophomore Bryson Starkey said the old bleachers were one reason she voted for the bear fee last fall. 

"I don't know if you saw our bleachers before, but it felt like you were literally going to fall through them," Starkey said. "So that was really important. I felt like we needed a new section of bleachers." 

The fee is a bargain with the athletic department, as students get to use the fields for intramurals when they're freed up from practices or games. 

As part of that bargain, all of the facilities had to be ready for the beginning of this school year so students could use them. Some of the pieces of the puzzle still have to come together. For example, crews are still working on the area near the north end zone, which will eventually become a grassy berm.

The bear fee funded all the outdoor improvements, but private donations funded a new $4 million locker room for the men's and women's basketball teams at JQH Arena. 

Moats said the new facilities are driving athletic recruitment and student enrollment.  

"This past football class is the best class that Terry's [Head Coach Terry Allen] had in the 9 years that he's been here," Moats said. "And we asked them, what's the difference, because everything else is the same. And the difference is commitment. You've made a commitment to football now." 

Now that Starkey is back on campus this fall, she is glad to see that Bear Fee vote pay off. 

"It's going to help our school grow and bring more people here," Starkey said.   

Students will pay the Bear Fee for the next thirty years to pay off all the improvements.  MSU held a dedication ceremony for the new soccer and track stadium at the men's soccer game Saturday evening.

The first home football game at Plaster Stadium is Sept. 13th against North Dakota.

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