For just a brief moment Tuesday evening — five days before Missouri would officially become members of the Southeastern Conference — athletics director Mike Alden pardoned himself behind a glass podium.
On what he continually referred to as a “historic day” and a day that was “a statement to the country,” he paused in between his long monologue of praise for all involved in the athletics department who would be responsible for making the six art renderings to his right become a reality in the future: the renovated football, baseball, softball, tennis and golf facilities.
“In particular, Gary Pinkel," he said. "I remember 11 years ago, we looked at something and said, ‘What could be?’ Because it wasn’t there when we got together 11 years ago. It wasn’t there when Gary Pinkel decided to come to the University of Missouri 11 years ago. But I think we saw something. We saw opportunity. We saw ability for us to work collectively as an institution. It cannot be understated: the success of our football program, in particular, in the past six or seven years in this country absolutely propelled us to new heights and opportunities as we enter the SEC.”
With the UM System Board of Curators’ unanimous vote of agreement, Missouri will embark on a master plan worth up to $200 million to improve athletic facilities. The first phase of the plan focuses on projects that could reach a total of $102 million, with funding coming from $72 million in bond finances. MU expects to relieve debt based on a 30-year amortization plan at 5 percent through increased revenue from ticket sales of existing and future additional seating.
A $30 million private donation from the Kansas City Sports Trust, MU’s second-largest single donation, jump-started the plan. There were gasps after chancellor Brady Deaton’s announcement.
“I can tell you that it's a proud moment when you can hold your head high and say, ‘We’re doing it right at Missouri,’” he said alongside UM System President Tim Wolfe and chairman David Bradley. “We’re doing it right in every way.”
When he spoke of the donation, Alden emphasized Kansas City, Mo., which hosted the Big 12 Conference Tournament and celebrated Missouri basketball’s championship in March.
“What a wonderful statement about what it means to people throughout our state about how excited they are that we’re going to be entering the SEC come July 1,” Alden said.
The majority of the project’s financing will go toward Memorial Stadium, where more than 5,000 seats, along with a premium club level of more than 1,000 seats, will be added with restrooms, concessions and lounging areas on the east side, which is expected to be completed by the 2015 season. Other upgrades to the stadium will include press box renovations and enhancements to the north concourse for fans by the 2013 season.
“I’ve often expressed that, if you’re not going to be committed to excellence and doing the best, then you should never go into this league,” Pinkel said. “What you’re seeing is a commitment to becoming a great team in a great league, and that means becoming a national team.”
Pinkel was asked if his visions from 11 years ago were being realized with the future plans in place for the facility upgrades.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I mean, shoot, that was a long time ago. I feel proud that (football has) made our contribution. But the most important thing is, what are you going to do with it now?”