31 Flavors of Football: Facility Growth

To help you and me get through the drudgery of August, I will present in this space a daily scoop of MSU football-ness, as inspired by a certain ice cream chain. August has 31 days, so I’ll let you work it out from there. Here is today’s flavor.

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To paraphrase Heath Ledger‘s The Joker, MSU is a relatively small operation, but there’s a lot of potential for aggressive expansion. So that’s what the school is doing by building a $25 million football complex and adding several thousand seats to Davis Wade Stadium.

State has one of the SEC’s smallest budgets and smallest stadiums, which are inextricably tied to why it struggles to consistently compete in the SEC. What MSU lacks in budget can be made up for to a degree in private giving, which has risen quite a bit the last couple of years. The Seal family alone donated $12 million for the complex, which will bear its name and open early next year. MSU’s hope is, of course, that more money plus better facilities equals more success.

The complex will centralize football operations and is right next to the practice fields. As for the football stadium, the expansion will include more luxury suites and will push capacity (currently 55,082) past the 60,000 mark. It’s still much smaller than stadiums in Baton Rouge, Knoxville and Tuscaloosa, but it’s an improvement. And hey, Davis Wade is the second-oldest college football stadium in America, having been erected in 1916.

Facility growth is a central part of the master plan MSU has in place, a plan that found its legs under former athletics director Greg Byrne and has picked up steam under his successor, Scott Stricklin. If you’re in the SEC, you’re engaged in a neverending arms race, and MSU is doing an adequate job of keeping up. Maybe it won’t have superior facilities to all others, but recruits should still be impressed enough to consider MSU, and coaches should be able to make a pretty good sales pitch.