Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Athletic Director Kevin Saal gives update on Cessna Stadium renovations

Garima Thapa
Cessna Stadium on April 10, 2024.

In 2022, the Wichita State Athletics Department announced plans to move forward with renovating the formerly-named Cessna Stadium. 

“We think it will be an absolutely premier community facility,” Kevin Saal, athletic director, said in a press conference earlier this week. “There will be some short-term inconveniences as we get to it, but we are envisioning a day where we can host premier events within a premier facility and accommodate fans in a first-class way.”

The plan is to remake Cessna Stadium into University Stadium, a multi-purpose state-of-the-art home for Wichita State athletics. 

In September 2022, the university’s Board of Trustees approved the funding’s first few phases. This phase of the project will cost approximately $11.8 million dollars. 

During summer 2023, the east side of the stadium was demolished. In December, Wichita State received one bid for the project but ultimately declined the bid because it was not financially responsible, according to Saal. 

“There was a lack of competitive bidding at both the construction management level and the subcontractor level that resulted in literally millions of dollars that were going to be a challenge to spend,” Saal said.

Cessna Stadium on April 10, 2024, after the demolition of the east side of the stadium last summer. (Garima Thapa)

Saal said Wichita State hired Crossland Construction, a local firm, as the construction manager out of five candidates.

Phase 1B is scheduled to begin immediately following the Kansas High School State Track and Field Championship on May 25.

This phase of the project will include reconfiguring the eight-lane track to accommodate a regulation-sized soccer field and adding new bleachers that seat approximately 3,600 people on the north and south sides of the stadium.

All the phases of the project will be scheduled around the state track and field meet to allow Wichita State to continue hosting the event without any problems.

Saal said he will meet with state athletics representatives next month to refine the plan for the meet. 

“(We’re) arranging the week prior to state high school track some opportunities virtually and/or in-person to present some of this information to coaches and directors of athletics throughout the state to make sure that we are clear and transparent in terms of what it will look like this year and then work through all the operational logistics, so there’s no surprises,” Saal said.

Although the renovations are in their early phases, 2A and 2B, which are set to cost approximately $40 million, will get rid of the west side of the stadium. The west stadium renovations will include a single level of viewing decks, offices, locker rooms and team room areas. 

Phases 2A and 2B are scheduled to begin as early as June 2026. Saal said the funding to complete the project will be sourced through the university, private donations and local funding. 

The renovations seek to give Wichita State a state-of-the-art track and field facility and allow for a potential women’s soccer program, which could begin in 2026. 

Saal said he has already begun applying for future NCAA track and field postseason bids, hoping to host the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in the next few years.

“We think it will be an absolute premier community facility,” Saal said.

Leave a Comment
About the Contributors
Melanie Rivera-Cortez
Melanie Rivera-Cortez, Sports Editor
Garima Thapa
Garima Thapa, Photographer
Garima Thapa is a second-year photographer for The Sunflower.

Comments (0)

All The Sunflower Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *