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UM curators reveal $250 million plan to upgrade Memorial Stadium

UM System President Mun Choi listens to a question March 11, 2022, at his Jesse Hall office in Columbia.
Madison McMillen
Columbia Missourian
UM System President Mun Choi listens to a question March 11, 2022, at his Jesse Hall office in Columbia.

The University of Missouri officially set in motion Memorial Stadium’s reimagined north end zone Thursday as the UM System Board of Curators unanimously authorized the design of the potential $250 million project. Officials unveiled renderings for the space slated to be finished in October 2026, the 100th anniversary of the stadium.

According to details revealed Thursday, the project, designed by Kansas City-based DLR Group, will completely enclose the northern end of the stadium with three tiers of seating, increasing capacity from the current 62,621 seats to around 65,000. The Rock M and grass-covered hill will be preserved despite major renovations to the northern end zone and concourse, providing general admission seating for 2,600 fans.

The added capacity comes in the form of 2,000 new premium seats stretched across 600 box seats, 260 mezzanine club seats and 51 suites, including 28 cabana-style “Tiger Dens” and 14 field-level suites.

A rendering from DLR Group shows the overall design for the north end zone at Memorial Stadium, featuring around 2,000 new, premium seats.Courtesy of the University of Missouri and DLR Group
According to a news release, the planned renovations envision up to 160,500 square feet of new construction, of which 98,000 square feet will be enclosed. The improved stadium will also include a new scoreboard and sound system slated to be added prior to the 2024 season.

As seen in the renderings, new seats will flank the Rock M hill and connect to the existing bowl on the east and west sides of the stadium. The renovated area will include modernized fan experiences, like premium covered social spaces, a 300-person Rock M Field Club built beneath the hill and a Mezzanine Club. The stadium will now also include an event space on the northern concourse for year-round use.

“Of utmost importance, the improvements will enable our student body, alumni and fans to enjoy an unparalleled exciting game-day experience while viewing the best football in the country,” Curator Bob Blitz said in the release.

Other stadium improvements announced Thursday include:

  • Recruitment center
  • Wi-Fi upgrades
  • LED lighting and ribbon boards
  • Multi-colored LED field lighting
  • Wayfinding and environmental branding enhancements
  • Concourse concession and restroom enhancements
  • An improved tunnel beneath Stadium Boulevard
  • Conversion of the south end zone’s Bunker Club to a recruiting center

The Board of Curators and athletic department view Thursday’s approval as a step toward ensuring MU’s continued competitiveness in the Southeastern Conference after the football team’s 11-2 finish in 2023, its best record in a decade.

“In the SEC, if you’re standing still, you’re falling behind,” said interim Athletic Director Marcy Girton.

MU Chancellor and UM System President Mun Choi added that he is “confident that this project will propel (Missouri) as the elite program in the SEC.”

The facilities upgrades plan was first proposed in October last year when the athletic department pitched upgrades to the Board of Curators, not only for Memorial Stadium but an entire Mizzou Sports Park. Kansas City firm Populous was hired in July last year to oversee the Mizzou Sports Park project. DLR Group’s design process of the Memorial Stadium renovation officially began in December.

Blitz said there were no concrete ideas in place back in November, when the curators voted to move forward with developing a renovation plan, but that the budget and scope have increased since then. Since that meeting, leadership within the athletic department has changed.

“The project, when it was conceptual before it was finally approved to this day, was a smaller project, let me just put it that way,” Blitz said.

The Columbia Missourian is a community news organization managed by professional editors and staffed by Missouri School of Journalism students who do the reporting, design, copy editing, information graphics, photography and multimedia.
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