VIDEO: Abilene Christian announces plans for new on-campus stadium
- by Zach Barnett 5 months ago
It's a good time to be an Abilene Christian Wildcat.
After an aggressive courtship from Central Arkansas, Abilene Christian held on to head coach Ken Collums and signed him to a four-year contract extension in December. The Wildcats have completed their transitional move to Division I, becoming full-fledged members of FCS's Southland Conference this fall and open the 2014 season at Air Force. And, soon, they'll have a long-awaited brand new on-campus stadium as the cherry on top of their sundae.
Launched in 1910, the program has won or shared a dozen conference championships, most recently in 2010, claimed NAIA national championships in 1973 and 1977 and put 31 players in the NFL. Yet they've been trying to play a full home schedule on campus since the 1940's but have not been able to get it done. The Wildcats' official home is Shotwell Stadium, a 15,000 seat venue owned by Abilene Independent School District. It's not an ideal situation, especially for a soon-to-be Division I university.
Finally, that's about to change.
At a price tag of $30 million, Wildcat Stadium will contain 8,000 seats but create enough space to hold 12,000 people. It should open in time for the 2016 season.
"Our goal is clear," said Collums. "We intend to be one of the top up-and-coming FCS teams in the country. And while we already enjoy tremendous strengths as a program, securing our own stadium will provide an extraordinary new surge of momentum."
The sparkling new stadium adds Abilene Christian on to a growing list of college programs in Texas that have completed or in the process of constructing brand new stadiums or massive stadium renovations. SMU (Ford Stadium opened in 2000) and North Texas (Apogee Stadium, 2011) play in recently-completed stadiums, while new venues at Baylor and Houston will be done in time for this upcoming season. TCU essentially tore down Amon Carter Stadium and built a new one inside of it, and Texas A&M is in the process of doing the same with Kyle Field. Texas, Texas State and Texas Tech have also installed major upgrades to their existing stadiums.
It's definitely not a bad thing for Abilene Christian to have something in common with its Lone Star siblings.