- Associated Press - Friday, September 12, 2014

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) - Missouri State University football fans will see a renovated stadium and some on-campus alcohol sales when the Bears play their first home game of the season Saturday.

The school in Springfield will show off its newly renovated Robert W. Plaster Stadium when the Bears play North Dakota Saturday evening. The renovations, which were funded largely by a $50-per-semester student fee approved by students in October, include new signs, sound system, scoreboard, locker rooms and turf on the field. The field was also moved closer to the stands, The Springfield News-Leader reported (http://sgfnow.co/1xTiKoc ).

Months of construction at the field ended this week and the field was dedicated Thursday.

Athletics Director Kyle Moats credited the students for approving the fee, which was intended for improvements for all athletic facilities.

The tax, called the Bear Tax, is expected to generate $1.6 million a year. Other projects funded by the fee include a new track and soccer field complex, field hockey and lacrosse fields and sand volleyball courts.

“The students believe in us, the students want us to be better and they want to help us,” Moats said. “Now they get to see the fruits of their labor.”

President Clif Smart said some minor work would continue until Saturday and a new berm that was meant to be used for student seating will not be available this year.

“I think it looks fabulous,” Smart said of the renovations. “Obviously the field with it just being marked for football and the stands being so much closer is great. The students told us over and over that the ugliest place on campus was the student side of Plaster Stadium and that’s no longer true.”

Saturday also will be the first time Missouri State will sell alcohol on campus to the general public before a sporting event.

Patrons must be 21 years or older to consume alcoholic beverages and hard liquor is prohibited. Beer and food will be sold at BearFest Village, a new tailgating area north of the stadium. Tailgating begins three hours before the game and ends at kickoff. No alcohol will be allowed inside the stadium.

Smart said he changed university policy to allow alcohol to be sold on campus by the university’s contracted dining service, Chartwells.

“I think there’s an interest and demand to responsibly drink before a game,” he said. “I think this is a very minor change.”

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

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