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Kan. Wesleyan to build athletic complex in phases

SALINA, Kan. (AP) -- Kansas Wesleyan officials say a new athletic complex will be built in phases over several years, with the first phase scheduled to begin Jan. 9 with demolition of the university's current stadium.

Wesleyan president Matthew Thompson said Wednesday that funds raised so far will cover more than half of the estimated $7.5 million project, including all the first phase, which will include construction of turf football and soccer fields, a running track, lights for the fields and resurfacing tennis courts. Temporary seating and other amenities will be built for the 2014 football season.

The first phase is expected to cost from $4 million to $5 million, Thompson said.

The new stadium will be constructed during the second phase, which is scheduled to begin next November. The field house will be constructed during the third phase, The Salina Journal reported ( ).

The executive committee of the university's board of trustees recently approved the phased approach, based on timing and funding, Thompson said.

Wesleyan has been raising funds for the project for about five years. It initially was conceived as a $12 million project, but was scaled back to $7.5 million when Thompson was named president in the spring.

University officials don't want to borrow money to complete the project, Thompson said.

"We thought that wasn't the prudent thing to do," he said. "We thought it was more responsible to get back to using the fields and then finish the fundraising and build the stadium next year."

Wesleyan has until October 2014 to finish raising the funds needed to get a matching grant from the Mabee Foundation, which in early November pledged $750,000 if the university could raise $6.75 million by Oct. 8, 2014.