SPRINGFIELD, Mo.– Evangel University received $1 million for the construction of its outdoor sports and performance facility. The plan is to bring bigger locker rooms and a new weight room for the university’s growing number of student athletes.

“This is our moment to kind of really declare who we are, where we’re going,” Evangel president Dr. Mike Rakes said.

Rakes said a big part of the university’s identity starts on the field.

“We’ve been attracting better and better, stronger athletes,” Rakes said. “We’re overcrowded so our athletic facilities need an upgrade.”

Rakes said the $1 million donation will help expand and accommodate the growing number of athletes.

“When you go into a facility that’s nice like that, you’re going to feel a lot better about yourself as a football program and a football player,” said head coach Chuck Hepola.

Hepola became Evangel’s new football head coach in 2015. He said Evangel has seen seven head coaches since the program began in 1977, with five of the seven winning a conference championship.

“Anytime we have something like this it’s just a nice little burst of energy for your program,” Hepola said. “I’m thrilled to death for our players. I’m thrilled to death for our community, for future Evangel football players. It just is a testament to all that have come before us and currently the ones that are working hard to make our tradition very proud and continue our tradition of evangel football.”

Evangel said it is hoping to hold a groundbreaking later this year.

“We’re pretty excited about the football season coming up,” Rakes said. “We just had our Spring game and everybody looks great, doing good. So this is going to help football. It’s going to help practice. It’s going to help their workout.”

The university said it has raised over $12 million for the college itself.