When I moved to Starkville in 2006 upon graduating from college to start covering Mississippi State athletics, the Bulldogs were well behind the rest of the Southeastern Conference from a facilities standpoint.
But the job done by aggressive athletic directors Greg Byrne and Scott Stricklin during that span have helped MSU catch up in a hurry.
If you haven’t been on campus in a while, there’s a possibility you might not even recognize it.
Let’s go through some of the changes that have taken place just during my time here.
The first addition I remember was the opening of the Templeton Athletic Academic Center. The $10 million dollar, 34,000-square foot facility houses study facilities for all Bulldog athletes.
The $6.1 million 5,217 square foot high definition jumbotron – or MooTube, as I like to call it – was added to Davis Wade Stadium in 2008 and ranks eighth in the country in square footage. It’s still hard to imagine that they’ll be another one on the opposite side this fall.
The W.O. Spencer Stadium and Carl Maddox Track both underwent a $3.2 million renovation in 2011 and now plays host to several SEC and high school track events.
A much needed addition to Humphrey Coliseum came around that same time in the $11.2 million Mize Pavilion. The 57,611 square foot facility houses both the men’s and women’s basketball team as well as practice courts for both adjacent to their home floor. Both teams received new locker rooms prior to last year.
The Leo Seal Jr. Football Complex opened its doors in January 2013 at a cost of $25 million. The 80,000 square foot facility is home to all things football. Before its construction, the locker room, coaches’ offices, weight room and cafeteria were all located in separate buildings. Now it’s all under one roof.
On Aug. 30, the Bulldogs will open the 2014 season in the newly expanded Davis Wade Stadium. The $75 million project will increase capacity to 61,337 and create much more club seating in the newly bowled in north end zone. More elevators, restrooms, concession stands and plenty of brickwork were also incorporated into the project.
It’s quite the facelift for the second oldest Division I stadium.
In June it was announced that headquarters for the men’s and women’s golf teams would be moved to Old Waverly Golf Club in West Point. The $2.2 million project will include a driving range, putting greens and a 6,300-square foot clubhouse complete with indoor hitting bays.
The A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre and softball field will both be receiving upgrades starting in May.
Last week, renderings for a $40 million overhaul on Dudy Noble Field were revealed. Stricklin stated that project would begin as soon as half the funds were raised. Once completed, it would give the Diamond Dogs arguably the top on-campus stadium in college baseball.
These upgrades made in just the last eight years have closed the gap considerably between the Bulldogs and the rest of the league. It has allowed the coaching staffs to sell their facilities to recruits and increase the talent pool in each of these sports.
Now that MSU has taken the necessary steps to compete in the SEC arms race from a facilities standpoint, will it translate into success? Now that the SEC Network is finally here, we will all be able to see if that transpires.
Logan Lowery (firstname.lastname@example.org) blogs daily at InsideMSUSports.com.