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Jeff Kolpack, Published August 29 2013

South grad relishes new office at impressive K-State stadium

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Randy Peterson’s parents are coming from Fargo to visit him this weekend, and they’ll get to see his new $75 million office. Well, it’s not all his.

The assistant director for athletic communications at Kansas State operates in a small space in the vast, new addition to Bill Snyder Family Stadium, where the Wildcats football team will host North Dakota State tonight. The renovation will be unveiled before a nationally televised audience on Fox Sports 1.

It appears there was no skimping on any part of the mix of suites, stands, offices and press box, which dominates the west end of the stadium. It has that new car smell and looks like it would coincide with the best of luxurious hotels. The exterior is composed mostly of large limestone blocks, which can be found on many other buildings on campus.

“Looking at all the improvements around here, seeing where it was to where it is now is a total 180,” said Peterson, a 1998 graduate of Fargo South. “But NDSU is similar with the track, soccer and the BSA. Both are progressing on the same kind of track.”

K-State’s track, however, is – not surprisingly – more expensive. The school’s annual athletic budget is around $65 million and combined with a new basketball practice facility, the athletic department has built $125 million in improvements in the last few years.

The football stadium, however, is the mansion.

“It looks like a medieval castle,” said longtime K-State fan Ed Skidmore, while surveying the facility.

Skidmore and his wife, Velma, were searching for a brick with his son’s name on it. That fundraising mechanism brought in over $900,000 in a campaign that was the collective effort of many, said Kenny Lannou, K-State’s assistant athletic director for communications.

The football addition is actually just the third of six construction phases. It’s not easy keeping up with the Joneses in the Big 12 Conference, which is seeing new stadiums and facility improvements league-wide on a yearly basis.

“It’s a very competitive business,” said K-State athletic director John Currie.

Currie, by the way, said he supports his program playing FCS schools like NDSU. That goes against the grain of talk in the Big Ten Conference, a league whose athletic directors voted against playing FCS programs starting in 2016.

“Personally, I don’t like to talk about not playing this level or not playing that level,” Currie said. “Clearly, if you looked at 125 FBS schools, there are some that wouldn’t be as competitive and clearly North Dakota State has demonstrated that over the last several years with their great record against FBS programs.”

NDSU is 6-3 against FBS teams, although none have been the caliber of K-State, the defending Big 12 champions. Currie said he believes tonight will set an all-time attendance record for an opening game.

The school has season-ticket holders from 46 states, including North Dakota, that account for just over 43,000 of the 50,000-seat capacity. Lannou said over half of the season-ticket base drives more than two hours to Manhattan.

And for those fortunate enough to be in the new club suites, it will be hard for them to tell if their at a football game or in the lobby of a Trump hotel.

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546. Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia