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Updated: Thursday, 29 Sep 2011, 8:31 PM EDT
Published : Thursday, 29 Sep 2011, 5:46 PM EDT
AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) - UMass trustees have approved a five year, $3.1 billion capital plan for its five campuses. UMass-Amherst will receive around $1 billion. $30 million of that is going toward renovating its football complex.
Built in 1965, more than 45 years ago. McGuirk Stadium has never had an extreme makeover. Now the University is spending a big chunk of money to upgrade its football facilities, even though the Minutemen will be playing many of its games at Gillette Stadium.
"It's overdue and also as we move into Division I-A you need to make these improvements", says UMass spokesman Ed Blaguszewski.
If UMass wants to make a return on its investment, it's going to have to have a winning product on the field. UMass football head coach Kevin Morris told 22News these enhancements are vital if the team wants to bring in some of the top recruits around the country.
"It's a matter of competing, you need to have a football support building, you need to have all those amenities because everybody else does; with the weight rooms, the locker rooms, the training rooms, the offices all built into one facility is really a necessity", says UMass football head coach Kevin Morris.
The football team currently uses modular's and works out across campus. The renovations will include new training facilities in this parking lot, a NCAA mandated new press box, along with new bathrooms and hand rails for the steep climb up the steps. At least one student feels the money could be allocated differently.
"I think it could be used for other things because there is a lot of things wrong not wrong with the school, but there's a lot of things we could use the money to fix. But at the same time I'd rather have our football games here", says UMass sophomore Alex Karkos.
The plan is still to play one or two games a year in Amherst. But while the timing of this project seems off. Blaguezewski told 22News it's something that's been in the works for awhile and with the move up to the Football Bowl Subdivision, the timing couldn't be better.
"The fact that we're going up to the highest division in football gives us that extra impetus to do it", says Blaguezewski.
UMass athletic director John McCutcheon did not want to talk to 22News about the renovations, since the state still has to sign off on it. Some of the other money in this project is being used on science labs and expanding its housing. Most of the money for the project is raised through private fundraising and borrowing from the UMass building authority, not tax dollars.