K-State breaks ground on new animal science event center

Source: Farm Progress. The original article is posted here.

K-State breaks ground on new animal science event center

Kansas State University took another step toward $220 million in improvements to its agriculture infrastructure when it recently broke ground on a new animal science event center.

KSU Foundation President and Chief Executive Officer Greg Willems announced that the new facility will be named the Bilbrey Family Event Center, while the indoor arena will become the Tee Jay Quarter Horses Walker Family Arena. The facility will be located adjacent to the Stanley Stout Center north of the Manhattan campus, an area known as the Edge District.

Willems said the Bilbrey Family Event Center will showcase livestock performance competitions, judging shows and large events to connect youth organizations, prospective students, companies and the public in positive and meaningful ways.

“Our exceptional animal science programs are producing sound solutions and elite talent to address our world’s pressing food challenges, but all the knowledge in the world won’t make much of a difference if we don’t have a way to showcase and share this,” Willems said.

Willems said officials are planning to host up to 30 events per year, “which will be an economic driver for the community and local businesses.”

“This dimension of the project embodies K-State’s commitment to be a great partner and contributor to the state and local economy.”

The project is planned for completion by August 2025.

Earlier in 2023, K-State began construction on the Agronomy Research and Innovation Center, also north of campus across Kimball Avenue from the Snyder Family Football Stadium. Next spring, K-State anticipates breaking ground on the Global Center for Grain and Food Innovation, which will connect Weber Hall and Call Hall on the northern edge of K-State’s main campus in Manhattan.

Weber Hall and Call Hall – which currently house much of K-State’s animal science program -- will also undergo renovations, beginning in early 2025.

In total, the improvements represent an investment of $220 million in K-State’s agriculture infrastructure, including new and renovated facilities. As of late 2023, the KSU Foundation reports that $143 million has been raised toward that goal.

K-State President Richard Linton told the gathering that the Agriculture Innovation Initiative is “the single largest building project in the history of our university.”

He added: “With each facility that we build, renovate or demolish, we are one step closer to creating unparalleled opportunities for our faculty, staff and students to achieve their highest potential and make transformational impacts in agriculture.”

Thus far, K-State has raised more than $93 million toward the project, with an additional $25 million from a challenge grant and $25 million initial appropriation from the Kansas legislature.

Willems said the Bilbrey Family Event Center was supported by “many individual and corporate partners,” including JP and Teresa Bilbrey of the Doubling Gap Ranch in Newville, Pennsylvania, for whom the facility is named.

“The Agriculture Innovation Initiative is a terrific way to launch K-State into the future,” said Marty Vanier, a project donor whose family’s generosity to K-State has spanned decades. “While we have many talented faculty members and wonderful programs here, they've been operating in their separate sandboxes. The Ag Innovation Initiative is a terrific way to bring everyone together, synergize their talents and experiences, and establish K-State as a leader in agriculture innovation."

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