'Champions Center' renovation at Kelly/Shorts will cost millions

Kelly/Shorts Stadium is getting an upgrade. 

However, the exact cost is unknown.

Central Michigan University Athletics announced Feb. 6 that Populous, a noted architecture firm, will design the 'Chippewa Champions Center' at Kelly/Shorts Stadium. 

A press release about the center was posted on the department's website Feb. 6, but it did not mention the cost of the proposed project. Jim Knight, assistant athletic director of Marketing and Communications, responded to a CM Life inquiry later in the day stating it was "approved for $27 million." That number is almost double what former Athletic Director Dave Heeke proposed two years ago when he suggested a $10-20 million upgrade. On Feb. 7, Knight said there is no projected cost for the project. The construction cost won't be known until the department knows how much money it has raised and can invest in the facility. 

"There is no accurate estimate," Knight said. "We are fundraising and in the design phase." 

On National Signing Day, Feb. 7, head coach John Bonamego said the facility would be "$30 million. Right in (that range)."

"It is all donated and raised, primarily," " Bonamego said. "We are going to have a state-of-the-art facility."

In December, Athletic Director Michael Alford announced donors have contributed $2.5 million to fund the project. The design includes meeting spaces, an alumni center and CMU Advancement team offices. The project also includes a new locker room, nutrition center and rehabilitation center for athletes. 

Populous has constructed famous stadiums around the world including the Arena das Dunas — a stadium built for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. The company designed Comerica Park in Detroit when they were named HOK Sport.

The facility will be located on the north side of Kelly/Shorts Stadium where the scoreboard, locker room and training/equipment room are located. 

"From the start, the vision for the Chippewas Champions Center has been to construct a place where we, as 'one CMU,' come together," President George Ross said in a press release. "Certainly, it will augment the game-day football experience, but it's not just an Athletics project. This will be in use 12 months of the year and be a hub for campus events." 

Alford said fund-raising is still in its early stages.

"There is strong interest in this project," Alford said in a press release. "By working with architects, we can take goals and ideas, build a vision and see what excites our alumni and supporters."