By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – With expansion details now set and made public, it’s up to Dan Mullen and his team to keep filling the seats.
Mississippi State announced the particulars of its expansion work on Davis Wade Stadium on Wednesday. The project will cost $75 million, with $68 million of that coming in the form of bonds, and the rest from private gifts.
The renovations, which will bowl in the north end of the stadium, will add 6,255 extra seats to bring capacity to 61,337. The work is expected to be completed before MSU’s Aug. 31, 2014 season opener against Southern Miss.
This project has been in the works for some time, and MSU officials said it is a result of high ticket demand. State has sold out 16 consecutive home games, has a waiting list for season tickets, and the top seven crowds in DWS history have come on head coach Dan Mullen’s watch.
In three seasons, Mullen is 21-17 and has guided MSU to a pair of bowl victories. The program has gained some momentum, and now he has to keep it going in order to keep the expanded stadium packed out.
“I love the pressure,” Mullen said. “I put pressure on myself every year to win, and I know we’ve got to put pressure on ourselves to continue to put a great product on the field and a great team the people of Mississippi can be proud of, and a lot of pressure on our fan base to step up their game even more and create an even more exciting environment.”
Harrell Contracting Group was awarded the contract, and athletics director Scott Stricklin said work will begin “immediately” instead of waiting until after the 2012 season. Stricklin said seating capacity will not be affected this season, and he hopes to maintain the current capacity of 55,082 in 2013.
“I think we’ll have a significant amount of the new bowl in the north end zone in place where we can make sure we don’t lose seat count,” he said. “We may even gain seat count by 2013.”
None of the premium seating will be in place for 2013. The plan calls for 1,155 seats in a section MSU is calling the Scoreboard Club, 236 loge seats, 22 traditional suites with approximately 288 seats, and 60 field-level suites.
There will also be a premium field-level area in the north end zone called The Gridiron. MSU is also installing a new high-definition video board on the north end, which will be “similar in size” to the 111-by-47-foot HD board in the south end zone.
There will be many other enhancements, including a brick facade outside the stadium, and Stricklin said the fans’ game-day experience will be even better. So long as the Bulldogs keep winning, the fans ought to keep coming.
“We’ve got a lot of confidence in Dan Mullen and our coaches and our student-athletes,” Stricklin said, “but we’ve got a lot of confidence in our fans and our alumni and our student body as well. It takes everybody, and we just think that this is a great opportunity, given where we’ve come from.”
Davis Wade expansion facts
* Cost: $75 million
* Total seats added: 8,815
* Net seats added: 6,255
* Projected capacity: 61,337
* Contractor: Harrell Contracting Group
* New amenities: HD video board in north end zone, rebuilt west concourse and more elevators, bathrooms, concessions.