Bonamego excited for Kelly/Shorts Stadium upgrade

Head coach John Bonamego speaks to the media following the annual CMU Pro Day, Mar. 20 in the Indoor Athletic Center.

When John Bonamego walked on to the Central Michigan football team in 1984, he put on his shoulder pads in the same locker room the 2017 football team used. 

Now, the head coach thinks it’s time for an upgrade. 

CMU Athletics announced plans Feb. 6 for a “Chippewa Champions Center” on the north side of Kelly/Shorts Stadium. The building plans include a new football locker room, a rehabilitation center, nutrition center and spaces for alumni and the CMU Advancement team. 

“It is very, very exciting,” Bonamego said. “It’s much needed and quite frankly a little bit overdue.”

An estimated date for completion has not yet been released. In a press release, Athletic Director Michael Alford said he is still in the early stages of fundraising, but there is “strong interest” in the renovations. Alford has a long background in fundraising and development during his time with the Dallas Cowboys and Oklahoma Sooners. Vice President for Advancement Robert Martin was hired because of his strong background in fundraising. 

Bonamego said the estimated cost of the facility is roughly $30 million. He said the facility will be primarily paid for via donations.

In Summer 2016, Western Michigan University renovated its Bill Brown Alumni Football Center, which was originally built in 1998. The alumni center features suites, coaches and players’ offices and a weight room. This football center is similar to the proposed idea of the “Chippewa Champions Center.” However, CMU Athletics said athletes from all sports will be able to access the facility. 

“Other programs around us and within our conference have probably pushed ahead of us a little bit from a facility standpoint,” Bonamego said. “This project will make a gigantic difference in not only the day-to-day operations of our program, but the future of our program.”

The football team’s goal is to attract the “very brightest and best” recruits, Bonamego said. 

“This facility is going to really enhance our chances when competing head-to-head with (other schools for recruits),” Bonamego said. 

The facility is being designed by noted architectural firm Populous, which has built sport facilities and stadiums all over the world. 

Bonamego has been active in the design and coordination of the event. He has already had three meetings with Populous, he said. 

“I wish we could get a shovel in the ground tomorrow,” Bonamego said. “The great thing about this building is that it’s going to benefit the whole campus.” 

The locker room on the north side of the stadium was originally built in 1972. The facility was initially announced in December before the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl loss. 

“I applaud Michael Alford, Martin and (President George) Ross for their leadership in this project,” Bonamego said.