Since 2019 when Chris Klieman was hired as the head football coach at K-State, whenever his team practiced indoors because of uncomfortable weather they did with the sound of a decades-old furnace running and lights buzzing like a bumble bee around your ear in the spring.
No longer does Kansas State have to practice in an environment reminiscent of an old high school gymnasium in Small Town, USA. You know the sounds, the smell and the dingy feeling that wraps your body like a weighted blanket.
Before arriving in New Orleans on Monday for Saturday’s Sugar Bowl contest against Alabama at the Superdome, K-State’s indoor practices, instead, were in an atmosphere with quality natural light flowing through windows like water out of the Mississippi River and into the Gulf of Mexico, a silent heating system and a fresh turf field inside of the new indoor football facility that sits on the East side of Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
“It’s refreshing to be in there,” Klieman said. “I know the guys are excited about having a new environment. You can actually coach and talk in there without the lights being too loud.”
The new indoor practice facility isn’t completed yet. Construction crews are still stacking final pieces of limestone on the exterior and the turf field outside of the building still needs to be laid before K-State is able to practice on the surface in the coming months.
In total, the construction of the new facility was price tagged at about $32 million dollars, and it replaces the old indoor facility that opened in the 1990s when Bill Snyder was in the prime of his first tenure leading K-State football.
“It’s a game changer,” offensive lineman
said. “It’s huge for us being right across the way and having a nice new facility is big for recruiting, too.”
Previously, K-State’s players had to walk – often in bitter cold or stormy conditions — from the far North side of Bill Snyder Family Stadium where their locker room sits inside the Vanier Football Complex. Now, players have a much shorter hike from their locker room to the new facility, which sits adjacent to the Vainer Football Complex.
“I love it,” two-time All-American running back
said. “Compared to what we had to now, to have it right across from the Vanier Complex, it’s great. I just try to relish any time that I’m in there because it’s big time for us to have that type of facility.”
The new facility’s roof is 65 feet and the indoor field is 130 yards long, which allows for more space for practices. The higher ceiling also provides K-State with more ability to practice special teams and throwing situations, something Klieman has taken enjoyment with.
“We can actually throw the ball vertically and not stop practice in the middle of it,” Klieman said. “To have those two fields where we have the new indoor and the outdoor out there will be really refreshing to be able to air it out.”
“That place is unbelievable,” Huggins said. “We’ve been fortunate enough to get to go and practice in there the last few practices and I can’t believe it. From what we had been practicing in my whole career to that, it’s just a night and day difference. Those guys are fortunate to have that going forward.”