In a unanimous vote, the UM System Board of Curators approved plans for the Memorial Stadium South Expansion Project, which is expected to be complete in summer 2019 and cost roughly $98 million, at Friday's meeting.
This approval comes amidst belt-tightening across the institution. This summer, all departments were required to cut their annual budgets by up to 12 percent. Then, Thursday, UM System President Mun Choi announced in an email to faculty and staff that the institution would be hiring outside consultants to find further ways to reduce operating costs.
Like most athletics projects at the University of Missouri, the stadium expansion will be fueled in part by donors, but the project as proposed would still use $800,000 in university infrastructure funds and $57.2 million in long-term loans. The project summary also states an unspecified amount in short term loans will be taken out to finance the project as donations are still coming in - the university anticipates paying $3 million in interest on this.
This is part of a larger trend – since joining the SEC in 2011, Mizzou Athletics’ contribution to the university’s overall debts has increased from 5 percent to 12 percent.
But members of the board of curators say they think the expense is worthwhile. Board chair Maurice Graham paused while closing the meeting to praise Mizzou Athletics Director Jim Sterk’s work.
"This is a real success, I think," Graham said, "and it’s going to be something that all of us can be very proud of. As we look toward the future of our university, this is going to be a big part of it."
Mizzou isn’t the only school planning big stadium changes – in June, the University of Kansas announced a $300 million expansion to its stadium.