Fieldhouse Facelift

The Brick Breeden Fieldhouse, home to all types of events — from basketball to Bill Cosby — will soon undergo renovation. Design is already in progress to replace the flooring, turn the lower-level bleachers into seatbacks, install curtain dividers and upgrade the sound system. According to Tom Stump, director of Auxiliary Services which oversees the fieldhouse, “People will look and say, ‘Oh, this is different!’”

Currently, the flooring of the fieldhouse is a cushioned-surface over concrete that has been falling apart for sometime. Additionally, the floor contains hazardous materials, primarily mercury because of the year of construction. Therefore, plans for the floor’s replacement have been several years in the works.

Likewise, replacing the bleachers with seatbacks has long been planned. “We do have a lot of older patrons that like to come in and watch the basketball, they like to sit up above because there are seat[back]s there … This will just bring them closer – that’s our goal,” said Stump.

The focus of the entire renovation project is to improve the venue, to give the Bobcat athletic teams a home-field advantage. The curtain dividers are planned, so the upper tiers of seating are not available to patrons. “The primary interest is: let’s get people more excited; let’s bring them closer in … Like what we did with the football stadium, we want to start to do that with basketball and get the excitement going there,” said Stump.

According to women’s basketball player Jackie Elliott, that strategy is already working. Until the new curtains are installed, temporary banners divide off the lower seating, giving the atmosphere a “more homey feel.”  “The atmosphere is a lot louder for our games … If it makes our environment better for basketball, more power to ‘em,” said Elliott.

As the first major renovation to the fieldhouse in 16 years, the total project is estimated to be around $3 million. Athletics and Auxiliary Services will contribute $1 million, the university itself will contribute $1 million and student building fees will cover the remaining costs.

Over the next six months MSU Facility Planning, Design & Construction (FPDC) will work with Springer Group Architects of Bozeman and A&E Architects of Billings to design the project. According to state law, any project over $75,000 must go to the private sector. Renovations are scheduled to begin in July with the goal of at least completing the the flooring and seatbacks by the 2014-2015 basketball season. “If we can get everything done by October, we will,” said Walt Banziger, Director of FPDC.

For students like Elliott, the commitment to not only athletics, but also MSU as a whole, means a lot. “It’s great that MSU is putting in money to where people are at — we use the fieldhouse for everything,” said Elliott.