- Associated Press - Monday, July 7, 2014

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) - Missouri State University officials say a $27 million project to upgrade athletic and recreation facilities is on track to be done when students return for the fall semester.

The deadline is important because after students voted last year to tax themselves $50 per semester to help fund the construction, University President Clif Smart said the fee won’t be imposed if the athletic fields aren’t finished when school starts in the fall, The Springfield News-Leader reported (http://sgfnow.co/TYln5T ).

The tax, called the Bear Tax, is expected to generate $1.6 million a year and will be the main revenue source for the upgrades. Projects underway this summer include updates to the football stadium and field, a new track and soccer field complex, field hockey and lacrosse fields and sand volleyball courts.

Architect Doug Sampson said about $2 million was added to the original $25.1 million contract to install more scoreboards for the football complex and address some issues with unsuitable soil. Sampson said a private donor who wanted the extra scoreboards paid for most of the additional costs.

The football stadium will have new student seating, along with new turf and a field closer to the fans.

“We really wanted to have a nicer stadium and make it a more intimate atmosphere, so we wanted to move the stadium closer to the field,” Sampson said. “The field that we had was basically at the end of its life.”

The stadium also will have more restrooms, concession stands, ticket windows, a raised patio, a visitors’ locker room, a berm at the north end of the stadium and a game-day meeting room for the football team. The football complex will be ready for the first football game on Sept. 13, Smart said.

A new track and soccer complex also is being built, along with a 1,000-seat stadium, restrooms, locker rooms and a press box. The track is expected to be in place this month. And turf for field hockey and lacrosse fields will be placed this week. The sand volleyball courts are the last project on the list but Sampson said they are the least complicated construction project.

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Information from: Springfield News-Leader, http://www.news-leader.com

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