Wichita State University reopens bids for stadium renovations

January 29, 2024

Wichita State University (WSU) is seeking a more competitive bid for an extensive renovation of its esteemed Cessna Stadium. In September 2022, the Kansas Board of Regents sanctioned an $11.8 million budget for the initial phases of a comprehensive multi-year plan to renovate the stadium in the new University Stadium.

Despite only receiving a single bid for Phases 1A and 1B in mid-December 2023, WSU is reopening the bidding process to hire a dedicated construction manager. This decision will foster a more competitive bidding environment, ensuring that the project is executed as economically and efficiently as possible, WSU Athletic Director Kevin Saal said.

Planned renovations for Phases 1A and 1B include underground utility work, seating area for approximately 3,600 with a combination of bleacher seats and terraces designed for tents, free-standing field lights, fencing, a ticket pavilion, restroom/storage buildings and plaza area. On the field, the track will be widened to nine lanes, and a regulation soccer pitch will be added.

WSU hopes to break ground on these initial renovations after the 2024 Kansas State High School Track and Field Championship, scheduled for May 24-25. Enhancements to the field will likely need to be accomplished in summer 2025 to accommodate the needs of WSU athletics.

The next stages of renovation, Phases 2A and 2B, are more ambitious, with estimated costs of $39.5 million. These phases include the construction of a new west stadium structure accommodating over 6,000 seats, enhanced press boxes, viewing decks, restrooms, concessions, storage rooms, and comprehensive facilities for the introduction of a future soccer program. These future phases are expected to be financed through a mix of university funds, private donations, and local funding sources.

Demolition for phases 2A and 2B is expected to begin in June of 2026.

Upon completion, the renovated University Stadium is expected to hold approximately 13,500 spectators at capacity, signifying a new era for WSU’s athletic facilities with top-tier facilities for its student athletes and the broader community events they host. Initially named Veterans Field when opened in 1946, renamed to Cessna Stadium in 1969 and now University Stadium, the facility has been a significant venue for track and field events, including the KT Woodman Classic and the home of the Kansas State High School Track and Field Championships since 1970.

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Photo courtesy of Wichita State Athletics

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