BOZEMAN — Rain and cooler weather did not keep hundreds of Montana State University students, faculty, alumni and fans from celebrating the opening of the university’s newest facility.

Well-wishers gathered Friday afternoon for the grand opening of the Bobcat Athletic Complex, attached to the north endzone of Bobcat Stadium.

Montana State University athletic director Leon Costello cuts a ceremonial ribbon during a grand opening celebration of the Bobcat Athletic Complex Friday, October 8, 2021 in Bozeman, Mont. - MSU photo by Kelly Gorham

The 40,000-square-foot facility will provide student-athletes with study spaces, locker rooms and team meeting rooms, as well as training, health and rehabilitation facilities. It will also house the Bobcat football program, including offices for coaches and staff.

“Today we celebrate the grand opening of the Bobcat Athletic Complex, a facility that will transform the student-athlete experience at MSU for all 350 of our Bobcat student-athletes,” Athletics Director Leon Costello told the crowd. “The Bobcat Athletic Complex provides the tools and resources to recruit, develop and care for all of our student-athletes by focusing on the physical and mental aspects of competition, while supporting their academic journey at MSU.”

Thanks in part to 525 donors, the BAC raised the needed $18 million in just two years. According to Costello, it is the largest fundraising campaign in athletics history.

“The foundation of our athletic programs consists of thousands of Bobcat fans and donors that support us regularly,” Costello said. “Our success as a department is not possible without all of you, and this facility is not possible without the 525 donors that generously donated to it. Thank you for your continued support of Bobcat athletics.”

The weight training facility in the Bobcat Athletic Complex is pictured Friday, October 8, 2021 at Montana State University in Bozeman.
- MSU photo by Kelly Gorham

Highlights of the BAC include a weight room; athletic training room; a hydrotherapy space with hot and cold plunge pools and underwater treadmill for lower-body injury recovery; and an attached Bozeman Health clinic for easy access to team doctors and athletic trainers.

Bobcat football head coach Brent Vigen, who was hired in February, said he couldn’t be more pleased with the facility and noted that its opening came during a prime time for athletics. Vigen, who was previously the offensive coordinator at the University of Wyoming and North Dakota State University, said the BAC puts the football team on the right track to be on the same level as high-profile teams nationwide.

The football locker room in the newly opened Bobcat Athletic Complex is pictured Friday, October 8, 2021 at Montana State University in Bozeman.
- MSU photo by Kelly Gorham.

Along with helping the day-to-day lives of student-athletes, Vigen added that the BAC and its amenities will be an incredible recruiting tool for prospective players and will make a great first impression of what MSU has to offer.

“A first impression to a student-athlete, a young man and his family is critical in recruiting. You get a snapshot of what you think of a university, a community, and the commitment this demonstrates is off the charts,” Vigen said. “We’ve hardly had a chance to utilize it in recruiting [so far], but I look forward to the many times ahead because a student-athlete and his family can come here and say they can reach their potential without any question with a facility like this.”

Sofia Rodriguez Todd, a senior on the women’s golf team, believes the BAC has already made an impact on MSU’s student-athletes outside of the football team. The addition of the new weight room will not only create champions, she said, but has unlocked the possibilities and space of the weight room in the Brick Breeden Fieldhouse. The training and rehab facilities will bring innovative treatments to student-athletes to be the best on the field. Off the field, Rodriguez Todd added the future academic athletic center in the fieldhouse will benefit athletes’ academic well-being.

“All of this being expanded and being invested in makes us student-athletes feel cared for and feel like [MSU is] home away from home,” she said.

President Waded Cruzado thanked the many people involved in making the BAC a reality, from the contractors and architects to the donors and fans, student-athletes and Costello for his guidance on the project. She added that because of their kindness and generosity, she was looking forward to a future of “absolute Bobcat domination.”

“Bobcats for many generations forward will walk through these doors and know that they’re second to none,” Cruzado said. “As future Bobcats achieve personal and team goals, as they graduate with a degree from Montana State and begin to pursue excellence in their careers, they will have confidence that they are worthy of excellence in everything they do.”

The BAC is part of Phase I of the Athletics Facility Master Plan, which was published in 2017. The 20-year plan for MSU’s athletics facilities envisions renovating and constructing facilities, such as an indoor performance facility and tennis and golf center, to serve student-athletes and fans.

- By Meaghan MacDonald-Pool, MSU News Service -