Kelly/Shorts Stadium to Receive Lights

MOUNT PLEASANT - The Central Michigan University Board of Trustees approved two enhancements for CMU's athletic facilities on Thursday.

Lights for Kelly/Shorts Stadium and a relocation/renovation of the gymnastics practice facilities were among many items approved at its meeting.

The lighting project will cost $650,000 and will be completed in time for CMU's first home game, a Thursday night contest against Boston College on Aug. 31 (6 p.m., ESPN2).

The decision to install lights was made after trustees learned that the Mid-American Conference has committed member institutions to night games that will be aired on ESPN to expose the universities to larger media and commercial markets.

"These are exciting steps for our athletics department," director of athletics Dave Heeke said. "The football program will now be able to be considered for television opportunities on a regular basis for home games in Kelly/Shorts Stadium.

"From a campus-wide perspective, this will allow the facility to host events that will enhance student life and provide opportunities for the Mount Pleasant community, such as concerts and large audience events."

Central Michigan currently rents lights for night games at a cost of $50,000 per game and was anticipating spending a minimum of $300,000 on light rentals over the next five years. CMU is the only school in the MAC that does not have permanent lights.

Funding for the project will include $100,000 that the athletic department has earmarked for light rentals this year. The remaining $550,000 will come from reserves for future construction and will be repaid by the athletics department through fundraising.

"At this time, this is a prudent business decision based on the resources we have available to kick-start the project," Heeke said.

The gymnastics practice facility improvement project was prompted by an NCAA subcommittee review in January that identified space limitations and concerns.

In response, the board approved $205,000 to move, renovate or expand the gymnastics facility to allow it to be compatible with the needs of the program.

Funding will come from reserves for future construction and will be repaid from fundraising.

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