MWSU gets state aid for facility

Brennan Stebbins

One of former Gov. Matt Blunt’s final acts in office was to grant $25 million in tax credits to the Kansas City Chiefs.

That decision will have a lasting impact on Missouri Western State University.

As part of the agreement, the Chiefs will give $10 million to Western for construction of a $13.5 million indoor football practice facility, where the Chiefs will move their summer training camp in 2010. That brings to two the number of MIAA schools constructing indoor football facilities.

Missouri Southern has acquired $2 million from the state for construction of a weather shelter, which the school also plans to use as an indoor practice facility. The difference between both projects comes down to one thing: money.

Western’s facility could top $14 million, and will have a 100-yard football field, new weight rooms, locker rooms, office space and athletic training facilities. The project actually consist of two associated buildings, and will have 14 coaches offices overlooking the field, along with two theater style meeting rooms with a combined capacity of 180. Western will chip in up to $2 million, and is attempting to raise the rest from the city of St. Joseph and Buchanan County.

“Facilities are something that students and student-athletes look at when choosing colleges,” Western Athletics Director David Williams said. “Whether they’re athlete or not, the better facilities you have the more likely you are to have people say yes to you when choosing college. I think these facilities will certainly help with recruiting students and student-athletes.”

According to Williams, the $2 million Southern has for the project won’t get them much.

“For $2 million the only type of facility you can do, especially for use of an athletic field, is maybe a 40 or 50 yard field instead of 100 yards.

“The base price of a big metal building that’s 100 yards, just that building alone you’re talking probably $7 million,” he added. “If it was a 100-yard building, a big metal structure that peaks like a big trailer with 40-foot walls that are probably prefabricated stuff, with a peaked roof, you’re talking $7 million.”

Southern is currently seeking donations to fund the rest of the project.

“They’re going to have to do a lot more funding,” Williams said. “The first thing I thought of when I heard they were considering it was ‘Oh boy, didn’t they just drop athletic teams?’

“I heard they were dropping men’s soccer but yet trying to build an indoor practice field,” he added. “I would think you could try to save a sport before you build a practice field, but that makes sense now that I hear they’re getting money from the state for this.”

Aesthetics a must

Williams said just constructing a large metal building on campus could be less than pleasing to the eye. Western’s architect has been proposing several different options to the school so the building looks as pleasing as possible.

“Most facilities like that are big metal buildings and they’re pretty ugly to be honest with you,” he said. “They’re just big metal trailer houses are what they look like. What we’re trying to do now, because of construction costs lower than normal, we’re trying to design a building that isn’t so ugly.”

Construction for Western’s facility will kick off in June, with the completion scheduled for June 2010.