Tarleton State University today announced the naming of Memorial Stadium’s west side expansion for Athletic Director Lonn Reisman as a result of a $2.4 million gift from longtime Texas businessman Mike A. Myers.
The announcement took place at the university’s Athletics Hall of Fame induction ceremony. The naming has been approved by The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents, designating the stadium’s west side the Lonn Reisman Athletic Complex.
The $26.4 million renovation and expansion project—set to begin this fall—will increase overall stadium seating from 7,400 to more than 9,000 and convert the west side stands to seat home fans.
“We are extremely grateful to Mike for his generous contribution to enhance improvements at Memorial Stadium,” said Tarleton President F. Dominic Dottavio. “We can’t wait to get started on this much needed and long awaited renovation and expansion, and Lonn Reisman is more than deserving of this great honor.”
Athletic director at Tarleton for 26 years—the longest tenure in the university’s history—Reisman has created one of the strongest sports programs in the NCAA as well as one of the largest booster clubs in Division II. Under his leadership, Tarleton’s athletic department ranked No. 23 in the nation in 2014-15 Learfield Cup Standings.
Since moving from NAIA ranks to NCAA Division II in 1994, Tarleton consistently has placed in the top 25 polls and qualified for national playoffs in every sport, including Final Four finishes in men’s basketball and women’s golf. Beginning his 29th season as head coach of the men’s basketball program at Tarleton, Reisman boasts 635 career wins, making him the winningest basketball coach in the state.
One of the most successful athletic support groups in the nation, the Texan Club raises enough money to fund 10 full athletic scholarships annually and help with other student-athlete programs. Reisman helped create the booster club in the early 1990s. Today’s membership includes more than 225 corporations and small businesses in addition to 200 individual supporters.
In his nearly three decades at the helm of Tarleton’s athletic programs, Reisman’s been involved in a number of facility improvements, including the Hall of Fame wall in Wisdom Gym and upgrades to the school’s tennis courts, softball complex and baseball fields.
“Mike Myers’ gift makes it possible to transform Memorial Stadium into a source of pride for our students, student-athletes, coaches, fans, boosters and alumni,” Reisman said. “I’m humbled and honored that a man of Mike’s stature would make such a contribution to help us renovate and expand our stadium and that he wants to add my name to it.
“I know Mike loves Tarleton State University,” Reisman said. “He’s an alum and a Hall of Famer, always ready to give back. He’s one of the most generous and giving people I know, and I’m proud to call him a friend.”
Myers attended Tarleton for two years before earning his bachelor’s and law degrees from The University of Texas at Austin. At Tarleton, Myers ran track, was on the first football team to win a conference championship since 1928, voted a class favorite and served as vice president of the student council.
“Tarleton’s athletic programs bring pride and recognition to the university,” Myers said. “An outstanding athletic director and renowned basketball coach, Lonn Reisman deserves to have his name join those of legendary Tarleton coaches like W.J. Wisdom, Oscar Frazier and Cecil Ballow on the school’s athletic facilities.
“I am pleased that President Dottavio, Chancellor John Sharp and the A&M System Board of Regents have seen fit to honor Lonn in this way.”
Tarleton honored Myers as a Distinguished Alumnus in 1978 and Ring of Honor recipient in 2004. He received the President’s All-Purple Award and was inducted into the Tarleton Athletic Hall of Fame in 2012, and was presented the President’s Legacy Award for Excellence through Leadership last year. Myers is a founder of the Tarleton State University Foundation, Inc. and lifetime member of the Tarleton Alumni Association.
Chairman and owner of Myers Financial Corporation for almost 50 years, his successful business career includes owning and operating 13 community banks in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and developing thousands of residential lots in multiple communities throughout Texas. Myers was inducted into the Texas Business Hall of Fame in 2008, and The University of Texas at Austin Track and Field Stadium bears his name.
The renovation and expansion project at Memorial Stadium will include an improved press box, suites, entrances and ticket booths, as well as add premium seats with chair backs and enhanced concession facilities. Football and track-and-field surfaces will be replaced.
The project should be finished for the first kick off in 2018 and will not significantly affect 2017 football games for the Texans or Stephenville High School Yellow Jackets.
Developed in the 1940s as a tribute to the 179 Tarleton faculty, staff and students who died in World War II, the original Memorial Stadium opened in 1951. A major reconstruction took place in 1977, when today’s features were created. In 1988-89, seating was expanded, the concession stand remodeled, the current field house built and track-and-field facilities renovated.
The System Board of Regents authorized $24 million in funding for the stadium’s renovation and expansion in 2015. Huckabee and Heery Sports are the architectural and engineering firms for the project.
“The renovation and expansion of Memorial Stadium comes at a time of unprecedented growth for our university,” Reisman said, “and will be a great benefit to our football and track-and-field programs as they continue to compete at high levels—in the Lone Star Conference and nationally.”