As part of Sam Houston State University’s Capital Campaign launch, the athletic department has been named as one of four areas of focus. The project that has been singled out is the Westside Complex, which is an estimated $29 million renovation to the west side of Bowers Stadium, which will include new offices, suites, a president’s box, media level and an enhanced fan experience.
The Westside Complex will be the latest in a series of renovations over the last several years that have helped elevate the facilities at Sam Houston State to some of the best in the region.
“Once we built the new weight room and baseball/softball complex 10 years ago, we started a plan to upgrade all of our athletic facilities,” said Director of Athletics Bobby Williams. “Bowers Stadium has probably seen the biggest improvements, but I’m proud about the fact we have been able to upgrade all of our facilities in some way.”
The most recent project that was completed was upgrades to Johnson Coliseum, which was built in 1976. For the fans, there have been three major upgrades. Last season a new Daktronics video board was installed. This year, season ticket holders have been treated to new telescopic seating in the lower courtside level as well as a new Bearkat Champions Basketball Club area.
The biggest changes however have been for the student athletes and coaches. The training room and locker rooms had a complete overhaul, with the installation of new lockers, meeting areas and video equipment. The training room space has more than tripled, including the addition of a brand new hydro area. Also a new court was installed, replacing a floor that was nearly 30 years old.
“Our locker room is top notch and I think it gives us a real boost in recruiting,” said head men’s basketball coach Jason Hooten. “The training room is fantastic. It is spacious and roomy. I think the hot and cold tubs are really what makes it.
“I walked in the other day after practice and we had eight guys in the cold tub. For this time of year to be able to have all those guys do that at once and still have time to get to the cafeteria and then get off their feet is huge. It’s a game changer,” Hooten said.
For Bowers Stadium, each year there has been something new to see inside the stadium. In the last few years, the new Daktronics video board was installed which is one of the largest in the FCS and the chair back seating has been expanded, bringing the seating capacity now to 12,562. Also, the track was resurfaced. This season a new AstroTurf playing surface was installed and the Bearkat Champions Football Club seating was added to the Mafrige Fieldhouse.
Despite being the newest playing facilities, both Don Sanders Stadium and the Softball Complex have undergone several facility improvements in both the stadiums and the locker rooms and hitting facility. This offseason, the indoor hitting facility, which features space for three side-by-side batting nets, was completely closed in and climate controlled, making it a true indoor facility. Also the baseball locker room was renovated.
On the field improvements for Sanders Stadium have included new padded fencing and the addition of an AstroTurf playing surface last season. Sanders Stadium is also beginning its third season featuring a video board and for the softball complex, this will be year two with a video board in place. Padded fencing was also added to the softball complex.
The last several years have also featured improvements to the McAdams Tennis Center with a new surface added to the courts and the playing surface at Pritchett Field was upgraded to an artificial turf. Also a new scoreboard was installed at Pritchett, while the golf team has a new indoor training facility at Raven Nest.
“I think when you look at what we have been able to accomplish recently with all the improvements that have been made, there is an expectation to keep building and expanding,” Williams said. “With all of our projects we have taken a ‘what do we need’ approach to our facilities and then we have gone out and gotten it done.
“That is the approach we are taking with the Westside Complex. As a department we have outgrown our current facilities in the Mafrige Fieldhouse, and this is the next big step for us. To continue to function at the level our fans, coaches and student athletes expect, we have to expand our facilities.”
The Westside Complex will be funded primarily through private gifts. Each phase of the project will be triggered when financial benchmarks are met.
This is the second part of a series on the athletic department’s efforts in the university’s Capital Campaign. For information the Honoring Traditions, Creating Futures campaign visit www.shsu.edu/campaign/