Koch Arena nears funding goals


Matt Crow

The WSU Athletic Department will begin using metal detectors at athletic events beginning July 1. (File photo)

In Wichita State President John Bardo’s visionary expansion project Innovation Campus, athletics are not to be left out of the mix.

There’s been no shortage of expansion ideas for the university. Funding has largely been the holdback for game-changing projects. That all can change for Charles Koch Arena and a mix of different university athletics in a flash, with the boost of a pledge from Equity Bank that came forward late last week.

The Foundation and fundraising efforts from Wichita State athletics have brought Koch Arena within three-fourths of the project fundraising goals.

A pledge from Equity Bank, for an undisclosed amount, pushed the $12 million project about the $8.8 million mark last week.

Koch Arena, which structurally hasn’t been touched since 2003-04 through a $25 million campaign, is looking at receiving three major updates. The first would be construction of a three-level student center, complete with a study hall doubling the size of the current one housed in the arena. Additionally, there would be the addition of a strength-and-conditioning center, training room and student lounge, all built South of the arena.

The student center would be joined by a glass-enclosed walkway connecting Koch Arena to the student center. In recognition of the pledge, Wichita State plans to name the walkway the Equity Bank Walkway of Champions.

Offices for track and field, cross country and golf would be relocated into the student center, while other coaches’ offices and administrative offices would be expanded in what the university projects to be double the space.

Expansion of the retail store to a larger space and reconfiguration of the layout of the Champions Club are also outlined in the project.

The project is a priority of the WSU Foundation’s Shock the World campaign, a $250 million fundraising effort to enhance the university.

The WSU Foundation and WSU Athletics plan to continue their efforts to raise the remaining $3.2 million to fund the arena, and an additional $2 million to complete a development project to Eck Stadium called Phase 5.

WSU Athletics reportedly announced intent to go public in the funding stages of the Phase 5 project in 2016.

The Phase 5 development would create an extension on the third base side of Eck Stadium.

The expansion would house new coaches’ offices, a team room, new locker rooms, a film room, a new ticket office and a renovated fan plaza. Additionally, a training facility to be shared between baseball and softball student-athletes would be developed in the extension.

Phase 5 is part of a seven-year vision.

“In order to raise those funds it’ll be going to donors and asking for certain gifts,” Brad Pittman, facilities director, said last February. “The more successful the team is, the more successful our fundraising efforts will be.”

Wichita State baseball finished 21-37 last season and won half of their games at home. They haven’t finished with a winning record in two seasons.

Athletics announced a bankroll of slightly more than $1 million leftover from a previous fundraising effort, they announced in 2016.

“The WSU Foundation and WSU Athletics currently is seeking to raise $2 million in private money to fund this project,” Alex Johnson, director of development, said last February.

The department has identified the project’s renovations as a need and development operations will take place as soon as the $2 million efforts are met.

Both projects to be funded through private donations, not interfering with student fees or university funds.