"This morning, I had the pleasure of informing President Cruzado that in the last 72 hours more than $875,000 has been committed, bringing the $10 million proposition within reach," said Michael Stevenson, interim president and CEO of the MSU Foundation, in his presentation before the board. "She affirmed that MSU will be 'going for two,' so to speak, and has set a new goal of $10 million."
Stevenson explained that MSU now has more than $9 million in commitments for the project, which puts it well above the $8 million price tag for phase one of the renovation, and is closing in on the expanded $10 million project.
Stevenson asked the Board of Regents to authorize the university to construct new end zone seating and make other improvements to Bobcat Stadium totaling up to $10 million in costs, $6 million of which will be paid for through private gifts to the MSU Foundation.
The university also asked for authorization to finance the remaining $4 million, which would be repaid with revenues from athletics events.
During the question and comment period, Regent Stephen Barrett, who lives in Bozeman, agreed that the project has created a lot of excitement in the community and corollary interest in the university.
A lot of that excitement can be attributed to supporters like Gene and Jane Thayer of Great Falls, Stevenson said. The Thayers, already Bobcat Athletics' largest benefactors, doubled their previous gift to the EZ Campaign to try to help get to the $10 million mark and are challenging others to do the same.
"Truly unprecedented!" said MSU head football coach Rob Ash when he heard the latest news. "This effort really feels like a two-point conversion. Everybody is sitting on the edge of their seats, holding their breath, waiting to see what is going to happen."
MSU Athletic Director Peter Fields said the stadium improvements would create an environment more conducive to NCAA Division I athletics.
"I'm thrilled by the enthusiastic response we've received," Fields said. "I want to thank President Cruzado, our fans and those who have donated to the project, because they are the ones who made this possible."
The Board of Regents is scheduled to act on MSU's request tomorrow. It is anticipated that Bobcat legend Sonny Holland will be in attendance at that meeting. An anonymous $1 million dollar gift given in his honor kicked off the campaign last month.
Campaign officials also announced that beginning today, fans with cell phones can text the word "Cats" to 20222, and a one-time donation of $10 to the EZ Campaign will be added to their phone bill or deducted from their prepaid balance. Fans may make up to three $10 donations every 30 days. Messaging and data rates may apply.
Phillip Luebke (406) 994-2416 firstname.lastname@example.org