MU athletics department announces $30 million donation from Kansas City Sports Trust

Tuesday, June 26, 2012 | 10:00 p.m. CDT; updated 4:50 p.m. CST, Tuesday, November 6, 2012
MU Athletics Director Mike Alden announced a $30 million donation from the Kansas City Sports Trust to help fund the athletics department's master plan. The donation would be the second largest single donation to MU, exceeded only by a $31 million donation by the Reynolds Foundation to the School of Journalism.

COLUMBIA — The MU athletics department received a $30 million donation from the Kansas City Sports Trust, the second largest private donation in MU history.

The donation comes in conjunction with the department’s $102 million facilities renovation plan, which the UM System Board of Curators unanimously approved Tuesday. The plan calls for the renovation of Memorial Stadium, as well as renovations for the baseball, golf, softball and tennis complexes.

"I'm humbled by the fact that I have a chance to be up here with this type of leadership in our state and talk about the gift of $30 million to this institution," Athletics Director Mike Alden said at a news conference following the curators' vote.

The $30 million donation is the second largest private gift the university has ever received, trailing only a $31 million contribution from the Reynolds Foundation to the Missouri School of Journalism, MU spokesman Christian Basi said. It marks the second major gift the athletics department has received from the Kansas City Sports Trust, which contributed $10 million in 2004.

Mark Foster, a partner of the Kansas City law firm of Stinson, Morrison, Hecker LLP that administers the trust, said the group is made up of anonymous donors who have ties to MU.

"The trust is designed to benefit the Missouri athletics program," Foster said. "Obviously, the motivation is to assist in transitioning into the SEC."

Chancellor Brady Deaton said alumni throughout the country have expressed excitement over MU's move to the SEC.

"We're really just so grateful to the donors that expressed that kind of confidence in the university," Deaton said. "I meant it when I said we're using this every opportunity we can to take a new start in every direction."

The $30 million donation brings the cost of the renovation plan down to $72 million. The department plans to fund the remaining amount through increased revenue from additional seating, as well as debt financing that includes bonding and borrowing.

The plan will add about 6,000 seats to the stadium, which currently has a seating capacity of 71,004. Alden said he also expects revenue increases to come from raising prices for premium seating and an increased visiting team allotment. These measures were part of a plan he outlined in "A Letter to Tiger Nation" in February.

Alden said the $102 million plan approved Tuesday is only the beginning. He said the athletics department hopes to eventually execute the rest of its $200 million master plan, which has not been proposed yet.

Alden said the department built its master plan based on a study conducted by Conventions Sports and Leisure, a nationally renowned marketing firm that has worked with the university to plan the past renovations of Mizzou Arena and the Memorial Stadium press box.

"We're very confident in our ability to generate support for our premium seating and the additional seating, based upon the study," Alden said.

At the press conference, Alden unveiled painted projections of what the new facilities will look like upon completion and set tentative completion dates of 2013 for the east side of Memorial Stadium; 2015 for the west side; and either 2014 or 2015 for the other five complexes.

Alden said he got emotional when discussing the path he and football coach Gary Pinkel have taken over the last 11 years to elevate the football program to a position where it could join a new, competitive conference.

"I would say the speed and scope of what you saw today and we talked about today certainly has a direct correlation to our move to the SEC," Alden said.

Pinkel shared the sentiment that the donation and plan represent a widespread commitment to stepping up in the field of athletics.

"It's a huge statement of the commitment that the University of Missouri has in trying to achieve greatness," Pinkel said. 

Supervising editor is Ann Elise Taylor.

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