Montana State expects nearly-completed $18M complex to boost athletics

Montana State athletic director Leon Costello points out a shelf on the first floor of the Bobcat Athletic Complex where the Brawl of the Wild trophy will sit.

Leon Costello sauntered around the Bobcat Athletic Complex. He grinned as he pointed out impressive features of a yet-to-be-completed facility, realities which had resulted from mere hopes when he became Montana State’s athletic director about five years ago.

Costello guided media through the nearly-finished BAC, an $18 million building which is expected to be ready for use in August. This is part of the first phase of MSU’s Athletics Facility Master Plan.

Costello pointed to the entrance, then the weight room then a fueling station, all while elucidating the thought process behind their construction and what it will all mean for the final product.

Costello reached a corner near the fueling station. He was eager to show this part off.

“We can’t forget one of the most important spaces,” Costello said, beaming, “a shelf for the Brawl of the Wild trophy that will be displayed here at all times. It’s got its own little home.”

Costello and MSU officials, which included senior associate AD of internal operations Dan Davies and senior associate AD of external operations Casey Fox on Friday’s tour, believe the BAC will propel the university’s athletic successes for years.

That means continuing to win against rival Montana. But it signifies even more. The BAC, Costello hopes, will be revered among FCS-level players. This is intended to result in MSU sustainably competing for national championships.

Costello has heard from coaches the construction of the facility alone has aided in recruiting “without a doubt.”

“When student-athletes are with their parents,” he said, “we want to be able to tell them, ‘When you drop your son or daughter off here, we’re going to be able to take care of them.’ … These spaces also allow us to train them and make them the best athlete that they can be while being the best student they can be on campus.”

The first floor is focused on athletic support. It includes a weight room, rehabilitation areas, doctors offices and areas for equipment including a locker room which will have 110 custom-built lockers, providing more space than before. The fueling station is centrally located and easily accessible from other areas.

Spaces on the first floor will include X-ray machinery and rooms for team physicians, physical therapy and places for general medicine services.

Costello said the hydrotherapy space will be a “selling point” for athletes. It will have hot and cold plunge pools and a large area with an underwater treadmill pool to help with rehab. Though only cement is there now, in just a few months, a treadmill will lower into the pool with monitors so doctors can examine range of motion.

The second floor of the BAC will house offices and team meeting spaces. Several rooms were designated as areas for specific position meetings where coaches offices for that position will also be. The office for Bobcats head football coach Brent Vigen will be on the southeast corner, overseeing mountains and Bobcat Stadium.

The highlight of the second floor, Costello said, will be the team meeting room. It will have tiered seating and ramps. It can also be divided to split up offensive and defensive personnel.

Though this construction will open up space for other sports at the Brick Breeden Fieldhouse, Costello noted non-football athletes can use the BAC as well.

Costello added he plans to allow more donors — the BAC was entirely funded by donations — to see the building in-person around the time of the Sonny Holland Classic as well as throughout the spring and summer.

Costello noted how much enthusiasm remains around the program. He didn’t believe any tickets were available among the minimum amount allowed for MSU’s spring scrimmage on April 24. He added there’s a high demand for season tickets.

A public unveiling for the BAC is expected to take place on Sept. 11, the date of MSU’s first home game of 2021. When pondering the Bobcats back on their home field for their first game there in nearly two years, Costello felt goosebumps.

“Getting to see that again will be amazing,” he said. “People are going to be ready for it.”

MSU’s athletic department is aiming to begin the second phase of its master plan soon. The Bobcats opted out of the Big Sky’s full spring schedule, which was postponed from the fall, in part because practicing in January and February climates would’ve been problematic. Costello said an indoor facility of some kind is “obviously on our wishlist.” MSU also wants to make improvements in the Brick Breeden Fieldhouse and Worthington Arena, as well as address immediate needs for individual sports.

“When we’re all on the same page and we’re all working together, I think great things can happen,” Costello said. “I think this is the first step in many.”