Stadium expansion nears completion

Said Pinkel: We kid around that we’ve got cranes up all the time in this conference.
The new east side tower expansion adds 3,200 thousand more square feet of concourse space.

Seventy-seven thousand fans. Multiply that figure by seven — the number of Missouri home games — and you get 539,000.

That number represents how many fans may fill Memorial Stadium in total this year following the completion of a $45.5 million expansion of the stadium’s east side and a renovation of its west tower.

Prior to the latest construction, Memorial Stadium held a capacity crowd of just over 71,000.

The expansion adds approximately 6,000 new seats and will make Memorial Stadium the 10th-largest stadium in the Southeastern Conference, fifth-largest in the SEC Eastern Division.

In addition to added seats, there will be an expanded concourse level, enhanced concession booths, a new ticket office area and entry gates, as well as new field lighting.

“We’ve got a great stadium, but it’s a continuous effort to build,” Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said when asked how Memorial Stadium stacks up against the rest of the SEC. “This league doesn’t stop building. It keeps building.”

The conference is in the midst of an arms race in terms of stadium expansion, and will soon have four stadiums that seat 100,000-plus people.

Tennessee’s Neyland Stadium is currently the largest stadium in the conference at 102,455, followed by Alabama’s Bryant-Denny Stadium 101,821. Kyle Field at Texas A&M will seat 102,500 following a facelift, and Tiger Stadium at LSU will hold 100,000 post-expansion.

Kentucky’s Commonwealth Stadium and Mississippi State’s Davis Wade Stadium are also undergoing renovations.

In total, $760.5 million will be spent to complete all of the current expansion and renovation projects happening at SEC football stadiums.

The majority of the expenses come via Texas A&M. The Aggies are working on a two-part renovation that will cost $450 million, including a 7,661 square-foot scoreboard, making it the largest scoreboard in college football.

“We kid around that we’ve got cranes up all the time in this conference, and we really do,” Pinkel said.

With the season approaching, the cranes will not be up for much longer. Final additions are expected to be completed in time for Mizzou’s season opener Aug. 30 against South Dakota State.

“We’re doing a lot of good things here, and we’ve got a lot of good plans ahead,” Pinkel said. “We’re excited about it.”

Senior tailback Marcus Murphy is set to begin his final year at Mizzou and said he likes what he sees in the new-look Memorial Stadium, which has already sold out of student section tickets for the season.

“I came here in 2010 and none of this was here,” Murphy said. “Just seeing it all, I feel like we have the best stadium in the SEC. It’s going to bring the best fans and I’m excited to see it Aug. 30.”

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