Kansas Wesleyan plans new athletic complex

SALINA, Kan. (AP) -- Kansas Wesleyan University's president is proposing a $7.5 million athletic complex for the school in Salina, although funding has not yet been secured.

Matt Thompson, who has been Wesleyan's president for only three months, said the complex would replace Glenn Martin Stadium, which opened in 1940, The Salina Journal reported (http://bit.ly/1c5MUJ3 ).

The primary hurdle is funding. Thompson said last week that $2.8 million has been raised and the school will borrow $1 million. Wesleyan is seeking a $1.2 million challenge grant from the Mabee Foundation, leaving $2.5 million to be raised by Jan. 1. He said it's unclear whether the project would continue if funding were not ensured.

"We've been on the road talking to people, but I need to be on the road talking to a few more people to see how close we are," he said. "If we are talking a small amount we'll move forward, but we've got to be practical as well."

Wesleyan has played its home football and soccer games at Salina Stadium since 2006, when Martin Stadium was deemed unusable.

"Essentially we will level and start again," Thompson said. "The reality is everything has outlived its expected life. The stadium was not designed to be a hundred-year structure. There is nothing to do to make this stadium functional today. The cost to retrofit is just cost-prohibitive."

The proposed project would include artificial turf in the stadium and an adjacent practice field, seating for up to 2,500 fans, a press box, concession areas and restrooms, an eight-lane track, locker facilities and resurfacing of the tennis courts.

Thirteen of the university's 20 sports teams would use the complex for home games. Thompson said the plan is to have the complex ready for Wesleyan's 2014 home-opening football game.

The university will need approval from the city Heritage Commission to tear down Martin Stadium, because of its historical standing, and from a railroad to use a small slice of its property.