There's been plenty of press recently talking about the fine facilities the Pittsburg State Gorillas have on the football field.
There's been plenty of press recently talking about the fine facilities the Pittsburg State Gorillas have on the football field. Well, not necessarily on the football field, but the field itself. Carnie Smith Stadium has earned several recent honors as a top college football destination, and Pittsburg State President Steve Scott said that has overshadowed some of the facilities issues with other sports.
That's part of the reason Scott identified the new event center (an expansion to the Weede Physical Education Center) as one of his three priority projects for the coming year.
"Jim Johnson and the athletics staff have done a really nice job in figuring out where we need to go," Scott said. "Sadly, our athletic facilities are not as good as people think they are. We have one of the Top 20 gameday environments thanks to our football stadium, and that's great for us. But that kind of camouflaged the deficits in other sports. PSU facilities, people think are top-notch. And in football, they are, but we have work to do in others."
The new event center would primarily house an indoor track that could host major MIAA track meets, junior college meets, trade shows, intramural sports and other events. But it turns out that part of the need for a new event center comes from a need to renovate the existing Weede. The Weede, which currently houses the indoor track, is badly in need of repair.
"It's like a set of dominoes. What we need to do to the Weede is to put in an all-new floor and put in new seating. In order to do that, we can't maintain the indoor track. How do we deal with that?" Scott said. "With the indoor event center, it opens up a whole world of ideas. We've got to move the indoor track, then remodel the Weede. That's all Phase I."
The two projects are so intertwined that Scott said the fundraising goal is not for two different projects, but for a single, combined goal of $11.5 million.
Other schools are already pursuing similar facilities. Missouri Western, Scott said, already has an indoor track facility of this sort. Missouri Southern State is talking about a similar facility. Even Fort Hays State has raised $4 million for an indoor track that's about half the size or less than the event center PSU is considering.
But fundraising for such a facility is not done quite the same way as fundraising for the fine and performing arts center. Although Scott will be involved in the process for the event center, he said he would be less involved than in fundraising for the performing arts center.
"We've talked to a few individuals," Scott said. "This will not be as widespread of a campaign. Just as we appealed to the whole campus on the performing arts center, I will not make that sort of appeal on athletics. These facilities are often funded by a few small individuals. The arts center is funded by many people, probably."