July 16, 1997
KALAMAZOO -- Western Michigan University has launched the public portion of a capital campaign to construct a major addition to Waldo Stadium. To be called the Bronco Alumni Football Center, the project is subject to approval by the WMU Board of Trustees.
Of the $7 million cost for the new center, $4 million is needed in private gifts. Several alumni and corporations have already made leadership contributions, providing 65 percent of the total needed in private support. The balance will be paid through bonds and other sources.
"Over the past five years, we have invested substantially in Waldo Stadium and made many improvements," said James C. Weaver, director of intercollegiate athletics at WMU. "Now is the time to invest in facilities that will benefit our student athletes and allow us to be competitive in the future."
The 50,000-square-foot addition to Waldo Stadium will provide new locker rooms, coaches' offices, meeting rooms, training rooms and other facilities. The first two floors will include new locker rooms for home and visiting teams and facilities for training, strength and conditioning, and an auditorium seating 160 persons for meetings. The third floor will house coaches' offices.
"In a real sense, we're building on our past to build for our future," said Willard A. (Bill) Brown of Chicago, campaign co-chairperson. He was the 1952 season's most valuable player and graduated from WMU in 1953. "With this addition, we get a first-class football center and still keep all the best memories and tradition of 60 years of Bronco football in Waldo Stadium."
"Everyone who's ever worn a Bronco jersey or been a fan of our football team is going to want to support this project," said John Offerdahl, the other campaign co-chairperson. He is a 1990 WMU graduate who was most valuable player in the Broncos' 1984 and 1985 seasons and was a five-time NFL All Pro at middle linebacker with the Miami Dolphins.
"This has got to be a team effort," he continued. "I urge my teammates and alumni from every generation to contribute generously to this campaign."
Gary Darnell, WMU's new football coach, welcomes the prospect of new and improved facilities. "This commitment parallels the championship spirit that is growing at WMU," he said. "The pride of all Broncos will lead to enhanced recruiting and training. This is an absolute must for the development of our program.
"We're really looking forward to the use of these wonderful new facilities," Darnell continued. "The coaching staff will benefit significantly because its offices will be located in Waldo Stadium, close to centralized weight, training, locker room and meeting facilities."
Waldo Stadium has a long history. It was completed in 1939, the same year that WMU dropped the Hilltoppers name and became the Broncos. It seated 15,000 spectators. In 1972, the stadium was enlarged to accommodate 25,000 fans and in 1989 it was expanded again, to 30,200 seats.
Then, in 1995, facilities for the public were enhanced with improved seating, restrooms and concession stands. They include the 325-seat John Gill Stadium Club, new bench seating for 3,300 fans and 750 chair-back seats as well as permanent lights for night games.
"There are many commemorative gift opportunities ranging from $1,500 to $500,000," Brown said. "Former football players can have their names added to the locker number that corresponds to their jersey number. All gifts, large and small, are welcome and greatly appreciated."
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