BOZEMAN — Construction will begin in early May on Montana State’s Bobcat Athletic Complex, a donor-funded $18 million addition to the north end of Bobcat Stadium, MSU announced Thursday.

The 40,000 square foot facility is expected to open in August 2021. The $18 million raised through donations is the most ever for an athletic facility endeavor at MSU, and 525 donors contributed to the project in two years.

“All things are positive,” MSU athletic director Leon Costello told the Bozeman Chronicle. “We’re excited to get that thing started.”

Costello said in mid-April he expects MSU’s athletic department to lose money after spring sports were canceled because of the coronavirus outbreak. However, he didn’t indicate the fundraising for the Bobcat Athletics Complex, which was announced to be finished in October, would be affected.

He said his department was working to have construction contracts signed sometime last week.

“In just a few years, we’ve been able to do something that people have been talking about doing for 25 years. That’s thanks to our campus leadership and generous donors,” MSU football coach Jeff Choate said in a press release.

“It’s a strong reminder that, as advanced as the Bobcat Athletic Complex will be, it’s people that make the transformational power of college athletics a reality.”

In March, MSU canceled all public events due to the pandemic. That included the groundbreaking ceremony for the Bobcat Athletic Complex, which was scheduled for March 25, as well as the football team’s spring scrimmage on April 18.

During Gov. Steve Bullock’s stay-at-home order, construction was deemed essential and could continue. So while the public events were called off, MSU continued to plan building within the near future.

Costello said in October that he hoped the Bobcat Athletic Complex would be usable by June 30, 2021. The delay now appears to have only meant a month’s difference.

The facility will be designed by A&E Architects of Bozeman and Crawford Architects of Kansas City, Missouri. Martel Construction of Bozeman will be the general contractor, MSU announced.

“People feel good about that, and a lot of fans want to see us start that. That could be a sign of hope that, ‘Hey, we’re going to start this project and get through this whole thing,’” Costello said. “Everybody is working together.”

The two-story building will include football locker rooms, team rooms, equipment storage and offices for coaches, as well as sports medicine, training and rehabilitation spaces for all athletes.

The former football offices in the Brick Breeden Fieldhouse will become an expanded 3,400 square foot academic center, providing MSU’s roughly 350 athletes additional space for tutoring, group study and advising.

Costello said in a press release that space for academics within the athletic department is “at a premium” and that this renovation will give more resources to athletes.

“We’ve been able to do truly remarkable things for our student-athletes thanks to alumni and friends who believe in a brighter future for the next generation,” MSU president Waded Cruzado said in a release. “The Bobcat hearts of our donors are in the right place. We owe them many thanks.”

The Bobcat Athletics Complex is the first part of MSU’s facility master plan, a 20-year blueprint for renovating and constructing facilities which MSU has said includes an indoor performance facility and tennis and golf center.

The second phase of the plan likely includes renovations to the east side of Bobcat Stadium as well as smaller projects, Costello said in October. He added Phase 2 wouldn’t likely begin quickly, allowing more time for donors to space out contributions and for MSU to plan its next step.

Costello added that some athletic sponsors have had to defer payments because of the economic fallout from the coronavirus. He hoped the Bobcat Athletic Complex’s construction would stir up enthusiasm with supporters.

“I’m ready to get that thing started,” Costello said. “That will get me excited and I think all of our fans excited about what’s to come for Bobcat athletics.”

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