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Going Public: Southeast Missouri Board Of Governors Approves Phase 1 Of Houck Stadium Reconstruction

Daria Lawson
Houck Stadium at Southeast Missouri State University

In early September, Southeast Missouri State University President Carlos Vargas notified the community of Cape Girardeau that due to a recent structural assessment, Houck Stadium would be closing to the public. Vargas explained that the structure's south grandstand had surpassed its original useful life and the rate of the concrete’s deterioration had accelerated.

The south grandstand notably seated the ‘visitors’ section of sports fans and families.

On Friday, September 24th, reconstruction plans were officially approved by the Southeast Missouri State Board of Governors. The project will undergo three separate phases of construction.

Southeast’s Director of Athletics, Brady Barke explained that this was a major disappointment to the University and its athletes because it forced the stadium’s capacity to be lowered for events.

Barke mentioned that the approval of the rebuilding project’s funding is a reflection of the University’s history, and the legacy of the location.

“We talk about how Houck Stadium is so important to us certainly from an athletic standpoint because that's where a lot of our student athletes train and compete, but it's so much more than that-- it's a place where students congregate to to be able to cheer on teams and take in games and socialize, it's where alumni come back at homecoming and have opportunities to reunite, and it's the impact that it makes for the community and the economics of the Downtown Cape area,” said Barke.

Alongside the rebuilding of the south grandstand, during the first phase of construction the stadium will also undergo various other renovations including additional new restrooms and concessions areas.

“Beyond that we have several more phases as we anticipate what future needs and opportunities may be,” said Barke. “In addition to this first phase that's been approved, we will be launching a campaign to try fund a full press box, then hopefully to have a club space, and then to the north side we’ve developed this conceptual design that kind of reimagines and allows us to expose the natural quarry wall because the stadium was built in an old rock quarry which is incredibly unique for us and really gives it its character and charm.”

Barke expressed that despite the need for approval for the second and third phase’s funding, he is hopeful when it comes to their approval.

“I think that our community and our region is ready because I think it does send a major statement about the importance that athletics plays for this University,” said Barke. “We intentionally developed this into phases so that we can move pretty nimbly from one to the next. As funding is identified we can just pick up and continue on, so, there's a possibility that within the next six months or so that we could maybe just continue on with construction and there really not be a break from one phase to the next.”

Barke said that the reconstruction process will begin after the end of the current athletic season.

“I anticipate that the first of December is probably when we will see the demolition process begin for the South Side, and then early January is when we'll start to see some of the actual construction work begin.”

The first phase of the project is anticipated to be completed by the end of August of 2022