Bowers Stadium, home of the Sam Houston State football program since 1986, has undergone several renovations over the last few years.
From the addition of a state-of-the-art Daktronics video board, expanded chair back seating, a resurfaced track and a brand new AstroTurf playing surface, the nearly $5 million in renovations has given the stadium a much more modern look. Now, Director of Athletics Bobby Williams and the university are ready to take a major next step.
As part of the public kick-off of the university’s capital campaign announced in January 2017, the athletic department has moved into the initial phase of an estimated $29 million renovation of the Westside Complex. Plans call for expanding the complex to 40,000 square feet and five levels. Renovations will include fan-friendly and engaging amenities such as a ticket office, gift shop, expanded concession and restroom facilities; revenue-generating premium club seating and suites; as well as state-of-the-art media broadcasting equipment and technology to support the Bearkats Sports Network.
The project is funded primarily through private gifts. Each phase of the project will be triggered when financial benchmarks are met.
“We have introduced a campaign that is bigger than anything we have ever done as an athletic department,” Williams said. “While we are proud of the improvements that have been made to Bowers Stadium as well as our other athletic facilities over the last few years, now is the time to take a major step forward. We have been reviewing this for four years as part of a complete athletics master plan. We are pleased the university has included the stadium renovation as one of four capital campaign priorities.”
Alan Tinsley, who is a Madisonville attorney and member of the Texas State University System Board of Regents, is serving as the chair of the Bearkat athletics capital campaign.
“Bowers Stadium was very much a source of pride when we played our first game there,” Tinsley said. “However, today’s program barely resembles the one 30 years ago. The football staff has grown substantially and advancements in technology have changed the way players and coaches interact and prepare for games.”
The five levels of the expanded Westside Complex will include a main entrance at ground level, which is designed to be fan-friendly and engaging. It includes a ticket office, lobby and gallery featuring the history of the Bearkats’ success, gift shop and office space for external operations and the Bearkat Sports Network.
The concourse takes up the second level and includes upgraded concessions and restrooms, as well as a balcony with viewing decks. Club seating with premium amenities and viewing will be located on the third level.
The president’s suite and premium game suites will be on the fourth level, while the fifth level will be designated for media services, television and radio broadcasting booths, game-day video operations, the public address and coaches’ booths.
Plans also call for renovated concessions and restrooms and preparation for future game-day hospitality accommodations on the east side of the stadium.
“Nationwide, universities are investing billions of dollars in updating their athletic facilities, particularly their football stadiums,” Tinsley said. “Like it or not, particularly in a state like Texas, without football revenues, operating a self-sustaining athletic department is difficult at best. It’s not unusual for a successful football program to strengthen an entire athletic department and a struggling football program to cause a university to miss out on opportunities that could provide a healthy income. To compete and ultimately to win, Sam Houston State University must invest as well.”
This is the first of a seven part series on the athletic department’s efforts in the university’s capital campaign. For information on the Honoring Traditions, Creating Futures campaign visit www.shsu.edu/campaign/