Salisbury University’s Homecoming and Family Weekend had a special significance for Salisbury athletics and alumni. On Saturday October 18, Salisbury revealed the designs of its new $19 million stadium, as well as a $10 million renovation for other athletic facilities around campus.
The new building will be a considerable upgrade over the 1980 one-story cinderblock structure currently there. “The stadium will be over 30,000 square feet,” said Matthew Groves, project manager. “The existing team building could fit into its lobby.”
“This is the largest athletics construction project during my 25 years here,” said Dr. Michael Vienna, athletics director. “This will put our stadium on par with the better Division III stadiums.
“Funding for these projects is coming from institutional, not state dollars, as well as gifts from generous donors,” Vienna said. “I’m grateful for all of their support, particularly the commitment which President Dudley-Eshbach has made to Sea Gull Athletics.”
Two nearly 80-foot tall towers will anchor the new stadium. It will have bleacher seating for almost 5,000 people, with about 2,800 on the home side. Inside the stadium, the first floor will have four locker rooms for our field hockey, football, and men’s and women’s lacrosse teams, as well as one for visiting teams and referees.
“And I can tell you, our athletes and coaches are thrilled at the idea of not having to share spaces and walk under Route 13 from Maggs Gym anymore” said, President Dudley-Eshbach.
There will also be a retail shop selling Salisbury gear, a full concession stand, a ticket office, storage and, of course public restrooms. The second floor will feature an athletic training clinic and a classroom for team meetings. The third floor will have five covered suites for dignitaries and special guests. The fourth floor will be the stadium’s “nerve center” on game day. It will have a press box; a production booth for the Sea Gull Sports Network; coaches booths for home and visiting teams; radio booths for local and visiting broadcasters; and a game operations area for sports information staff, scoreboard and clock operators, and announcers.
“Today, I’m pleased to reveal that this top floor will be named Draper Athletics Communications Center, made possible by a substantial gift from Draper Holdings” said Dudley-Eshbach. “Draper is one of several generous benefactors and donors who have already stepped forward to provide support for this new facility. Others include two-time Salisbury graduate Lili Afkhami who is contributing to the field hockey and sports information areas; alumnus Michael Kelly, a former football player who is giving support that team’s space; and other graduates and community members who wish to remain anonymous.”
A major renovation of athletics playing field is being brought up for East Campus as well. A new tennis building will be added near the new tennis courts. Improvements for athletic fields include new bleachers and press boxes for baseball, softball, and men and women’s rugby teams. The ultimate goal for the athletics complex is a new field house. Though that is sometime in the future Vienna believes it would be transformative for the campus. These renovations are expected to take a couple of years.
“As an NCAA Division III school, we do not offer athletics scholarships,” Vienna said. “What attracts students, including athletes, is the overall excellence in education. Part of this educational experience is quality life outside the classroom, including our campus appearance. Good student-athletes want to play in good facilities. We think these enhancements will help in attracting students, not only those playing on teams, but those who participate in our very active intramural and club team sports, as well as their families and friends. I think of athletes as co-curricular, instilling values and disciplines that will serve students in their professional, personal and civic lives. These new facilities and upgrades will support that education.”
The new Sea Gull Stadium is expected to open in Spring 2016, with construction beginning after Christmas this year.