New Bobcat Hoops Coach Danny Sprinkles (copy) (copy)

Montana State athletic director Leon Costello introduces new basketball coach Danny Sprinkle at a welcome ceremony at Norm Asbjornson Hall.

The goal is within reach for Montana State’s planned Bobcat Athletic Complex and Academic Excellence Center, but ground can’t be broken on the 40,000-square-foot facility until fundraising is complete, university and alumni foundation officials said this week.

MSU Alumni Foundation President and CEO Chris Murray said that over $16.5 million has been raised and another $1.5 million is needed before construction can begin.

“Thanks to our many friends and donors, we’re close to our goal, but we’re not there,” he said. “We need the Bobcat family to come together to help us make this important project a reality.”

As detailed in MSU’s 2017 Athletics Facilities Master Plan, the Bobcat Athletic Complex will be a two-story building constructed at the north end zone of Bobcat Stadium. It will provide student-athletes study spaces, locker rooms and team meeting rooms, as well as training, health and rehabilitation facilities. It will also house the football program, including offices for coaches and staff.

“This addition to Bobcat Stadium will not only be a focal point for visitors entering our university but will also be an important resource for student-athlete success both on the field and in the classroom,” MSU head football coach Jeff Choate said.

In addition to the Bobcat Athletic Complex, the project will transform the office space vacated by the football coaches in the Brick Breeden Fieldhouse into a 3,400-square-foot tutoring, advising and study area.

“The impact of the Bobcat Athletic Complex and Academic Excellence Center is going to be felt by every program and student-athlete while benefiting our fans, our supporters and the entire campus and community,” MSU director of athletics Leon Costello said. “This complex supports our vision to develop champions in the classroom, competition and life. We owe it to our student-athletes and coaches to get this started as quickly as we can.”

At the July meeting of the state Board of Regents in Helena, the university will ask for up to $1.5 million to complete the design of the facility, as well as up to $18 million in non-state funds for construction of the project, including gifts, donations and in-kind contributions. Up to $3 million will be financed by MSU, to be repaid from athletics revenues. No taxpayer money will be used to fund the project.

Murray said about 320 donors have contributed to support the BAC thus far, and that the Alumni Foundation is making a final fundraising push for the project with the aim of meeting the project’s goal this fall. Specific fundraising information will be released soon, he said.

“We can’t break ground until we meet our fundraising goal,” Murray said. “We’re on the 1-yard line, and we need everyone’s help to get the ball over the goal line.”

Colton Pool can be reached at cpool@dailychronicle.com or 406-582-2690. Follow him on Twitter @CPoolReporter.