Mark Hollis, the athletic director at Michigan State University, has confirmed that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security raised some concerns about Spartan Stadium and its vulnerability, and that MSU has addressed those concerns in the renovation plans for the facility.
Specifically, DHS was concerned about the location of the university's motor vehicle pool, located next to the stadium. The motor pool services university-owned vehicles and contains gas pumps and tanks. Michigan State will remove the motor pool and rebuild it at another location, presumably away from Spartan Stadium.
While the simple relocation of a university motor pool isn't a major issue in and of itself, the fact that the move is being prompted by concerns from Homeland Security is. Additionally, MSU will have to foot the bill itself; more specifically, the athletic department. Hollis has set aside $1.5 million from the athletic department's regular budget for the move.
"There really wasn't an option; it had to be taken out for the safety of fans and the environment we live in today, there wasn't another option," Hollis said at the Big Ten's meeting of athletic directors Wednesday in Chicago. Hollis also confirmed that the $1.5 million price tag was not included in the $20 million stadium renovation project.
Funny enough, Hollis also admitted that there was nothing wrong with the motor pool itself, other than its unfortunate aesthetics. "[The] motor pool could operate comfortably there for years to come, but it was not the best place to have it for seven Saturdays." So do those seven Saturdays outweigh the other 358 days in the year, especially when combined with at least a $1.5 million tab?
Michigan State, while certainly not struggling financially, is still a public university operating with tax revenues. MSU isn't one of the top earners in the NCAA either, and any cost overruns on a project as large as a stadium renovation are likely to take a huge chomp out of future budgets.
The relocation of the motor pool will certainly improve the look of Spartan Stadium on Saturdays, but we're wondering if it's worth the hefty cost that will inevitably be paid for by tuition-paying students, taxpayers and Spartan fans.