The biggest and most noticeable change to the stadium is the imposing 7,200-seat steel and precast concrete grandstand that completely encloses the south end of the field. On Wednesday, giant blue and white letters were installed on the concrete wall at the base of this new seating section, proclaiming it "The Sonny Holland Zone" in honor of the legendary MSU football player and coach. When the fundraising campaign for the stadium improvements kicked off last October, it was a $1 million gift from an anonymous donor in honor of Holland that set the stage for one of the most ambitious fundraising timetables in MSU's history.
At the north end of the stadium, fans will be greeted by a new scoreboard standing more than 70 feet tall and loaded with a high-tech video screen and sound system. The scoreboard carries the Thayer family name in honor of Gene and Jane Thayer of Great Falls, and their family, who committed over $1 million to the stadium improvement project and have been among Bobcat Athletics biggest benefactors.
Gene Thayer is an MSU alumnus and member of the Bobcat Quarterback Club. Despite growing up in a miner's shack with no electricity, indoor plumbing or insulation in the little town of Belt, Thayer was the first in his family to earn a college education, and then proceeded to establish one of Montana's most successful grain elevator businesses.
Thayer, who has also supported the College of Agriculture and the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity in the past, said "I owe a healthy slice of my success to the education I got at MSU and the personal growth I had while going to college. I've always felt that I wanted to return the favor if I could."
The Thayer Family Scoreboard was designed by MSU graduates at Advanced Electronic Designs of Bozeman, while the steel and concrete supporting structure was done by Markovich Construction of Butte.
To help fans get to their seats in the Sonny Holland Zone quickly and easily on game days, a new entrance to the stadium has been added on the southeastern corner of the stadium, near Bobcat Plaza. The entrance, which will include both student-only ticketless lanes and access for the general public, is named the Pulfrey Gateway for Cory and Diane Pulfrey of Bozeman, MSU alumni who donated $250,000 to the stadium improvement project.
Cory Pulfrey, a semi-retired co-head of Morgan Stanley's Alternative Investment Partners business, serves on the board of the MSU Foundation and is a member of the Bobcat Quarterback Club. Both Cory and Diane volunteer in leadership roles at Heart of the Valley Animal Shelter.
The Pulfreys' reasons for donating were many. "We are huge Bobcat fans," said Cory Pulfrey. "Blue and gold runs in our veins, as MSU President Cruzado likes to say. Plus, we believe that there is a strong connection between the success of the Bobcat Athletics program and the strength of Montana State University as a whole."
Fans can get a sneak peek at all of the stadium improvements when the Sonny Holland Zone, Thayer Family Scoreboard and Pulfrey Gateway are dedicated in a public ceremony to be held at Bobcat Stadium at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 9. The Bobcats will open their home season against UC Davis the following day. It's the Bobcats' "Gold Rush" game where all fans are encouraged to wear the gold of the university's blue and gold colors.
Contact: Phillip Luebke, 406-994-2416, firstname.lastname@example.org