By Jim Henry
Globe Sports Editor
LAMAR, Mo. —
Almost two years ago — Feb. 18, 2011, the Robert W. Plaster Foundation pledged two seven-figure gifts to the Missouri Southern Foundation.
One gift will be used to help fund the construction of an on-campus baseball field and a multipurpose athletic center adjacent to the football field.
The second gift — on the condition that the university first raises 75 percent of the expected cost — will be used for renovations at Fred G. Hughes Stadium, the Lions’ football home since 1975.
Estimated costs at the time of the announcement were $2.5 million for the baseball field, $8 million for the athletic center and $17.5 million for football stadium renovations.
The school’s plan is to focus on the baseball and athletic center first. The focus will shift to the football stadium renovations after the first project is completed.
“It has been a driving force to continue with fundraising efforts,” Missouri Southern athletics director Jared Bruggeman said on Tuesday. “Our goals and aspirations have not changed, just the timeline. Due to events over the last couple of years, we have adjusted our timeline accordingly.”
Plaster, who was an accounting student at Joplin Junior College in the 1950s, has made significant contributions to colleges across southwest Missouri. Buildings carrying the Plaster name can be found on campus at Crowder College in Neosho, College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, Missouri State University in Springfield and Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar as well as MSSU.
In recognition of the two gifts, the area east of Duquesne Road and south of Newman Road — the future site of the baseball field and athletic center — have been renamed the Robert W. Plaster Sports Complex.
“The well-being of our student-athletes is a top priority,” Bruggeman said. “These gifts and the fundraising campaigns are going to enable us to make sure the students have the safest and most positive experience possible while representing Missouri Southern.”