HUNTINGTON — Marshall athletic director Christian Spears made it clear what he wants to happen, and wants to inspire others with that same vision.
The vision, his end goal for upgrades to existing and construction of new athletic facilities, was lined out in a presentation to the MU Board of Governors in a meeting last week.
“I’m actually the kind of person that likes to will things into existence, sometimes speak them into existence,” Spears said. “I want to have a vision that people can rally around, so I try to inspire with words and deeds and actions and sometimes conceptual [ideas].”
His wish list includes more than $62 million in spending to improve a number of existing facilities while paving the way for a new university-sponsored sport in the future — women’s beach volleyball — which the Sun Belt Conference began sponsoring this year.
“Big dream, big goal, not approved by the Board of Governors, just a conceptual rendering that we’re trying to inspire someone to get motivated by,” Spears said.
The largest chunk of spending in that vision is $25 million for renovation of the south end zone at Joan C. Edwards Stadium, which would require the removal of the existing bleachers, which were tarped off and not sold last season.
“We’ve got to find funding sources; we’ve got to be scrappy and innovative; we’ve got to ask people to support and help us, and so many people have,” Spears said. “You’ve seen a lot of things happen over the course of the last 11 months primarily because people just care so deeply about our institution.”
He believes they can raise the money, and Big Green Executive Director John Sutherland stood behind that same statement.
“When you go to [donors] and tell them the story about why you need something, they tend to rise to the occasion,“ Spears said.
Also in the plan was $7 million allocated for continued development of the proposed baseball stadium. Ground was broken on the property last fall and there are visible signs of progress there.
Other notable items included $6 million for soccer facility upgrades, $5 million for video board upgrades at current facilities and installation of boards at the soccer and softball fields, $5 million for an outdoor track, $3.1 million allocated for sports performance, the weight room and fuel station and $3 million for sand volleyball courts.
“What we’re trying to do is convince people we can be great here, and sometimes what you have to do is inspire them with images, pictures and conceptual renderings,” Spears said.
In conjunction with the Champions Advisory Board, he worked to prioritize each item on the list before the cost estimates came in. The CAB is composed of 29 alumni and donors.
“This is our vision for our fundraising campaign that we hope will fund each and every one of our initiatives,” Spears said. “We call it ‘All M’. We think that if we can get everyone to be ‘all in,’ we might be able to establish, create and finish the ‘All M’ projects.”
Luke Creasy is a reporter for HD Media. Follow him on Twitter @LukeCreasy or reach him by phone at 304-526-2800.