University to develop athletic complex

Luke Kropp
News Co-Editor

Developments to The University’s campus, student life and the surrounding community just keep coming.

The latest project is the construction of a $14 million athletic campus in South Scranton, University President the Rev. Dr. Kevin P. Quinn, S.J. announced Tuesday. The University’s Board of Trustees approved plans to build a multipurpose field, baseball field and softball field that all meet NCAA specifications, along with a public basketball court, playground and other facilities.

University officials “have long dreamed of” renovating the 11-acre athletic complex, but there were several other more important initiatives to complete first.

“Having addressed academic and student life needs with our campus center, science facilities, residence halls and most recently academic space for rehabilitation education, it is now time for us to develop the South Side Athletic Campus,” Quinn said at ta press conference Tuesday in Brennan Hall. “Thanks be to God.”

The $14 million development will not add to The University’s debt. Quinn said the project will be financed largely through donations and that The University has already secured more than $8 million in philanthropic support.

The president added that almost 2,700 students currently compete in intercollegiate, intramural, club and recreational sports and many must play on athletic facilities “well below minimum standards” or on rented municipal fields, putting The University at a “competitive disadvantage in student recruitment.”

“With only a single outdoor athletic facility, we must schedule Fitzpatrick Field all hours of the day and well into the evening just to support intercollegiate athletics, leaving little time for intramural and recreational sports,” Quinn said.

At Tuesday’s press conference, Director of Athletics David Martin gave the specifics of each field and facility of the new South Side Athletic Campus, which will be located on Broadway Ave. in South Scranton. All three fields will be synthetic turf, and the multipurpose stadium will be home to five different NCAA Division III intercollegiate sports.

South of Broadway Ave., the new athletic complex will also include a 4,000-square-foot fieldhouse with locker rooms, public restrooms, an athletic training room and a security office between the baseball and multipurpose fields, Martin said. There will also be an 84-space parking lot and concrete walkway adjacent to the two fields. North of Broadway Ave, the softball stadium will be accompanied by a community basketball court and children’s playground.

Martin said that many people are excited about the development and it will be beneficial not only to student-athletes, but to every member of the community.

“This athletic campus will improve the quality of life for every single student on our campus, without question,” Martin said. “It’s a great day to be a Royal.”

Bill Courtright, the Mayor of Scranton, said Tuesday that the project is equally as exciting for the city of Scranton as it is for The University. The state-of-the-art facilities will beautify South Scranton, create more jobs in the city and “there will be permit fees, which we welcome,” Courtright said.

He also mentioned a housing project near the new athletic campus, providing children and families with a recreational facility close to home.

“I commend The University of Scranton and Father Quinn for pursuing this,” Courtright said. “It’s a major piece of ground in the city of Scranton, and I know if we take a look at any of the facilities at The University of Scranton, they always maintain them immaculately and they’ll have security down there in that area.”

The University plans to begin construction of the South Side Athletic Campus in the spring of 2017 and finish some time that fall, pending zoning board approval, according to Director of News and Media Relations Stan Zygmunt.

The renovated sports complex will allow The University to host NCAA Tournament games and possibly PIAA competitions, attracting more people to the area and generating more revenue for the city.

Many student-athletes were excited about the development and attended the press conference Tuesday. Erica Licari, who spoke at the press conference, is a sophomore women’s soccer player and she looks forward to the new athletic campus enhancing the student-athlete experience and creating a family-oriented atmosphere.

“It will be so nice for so many of our student-athletes to all be able to train together at the same facility,” Licari said. “I believe that the facility will bring a new energy and excitement to our student-athletes and athletic department, which will help our already-thriving teams grow and develop even more.”

First-year men’s soccer player Jonathan Roberts said he was very impressed with the renovation plans and looks forward to seeing more fans at athletic competitions.

“Fitzpatrick Field has been known as a smaller field,” Roberts said. “So now having an all-purpose, NCAA regulation soccer field will be great for us.”

With the addition of a second multipurpose stadium, Fitzpatrick Field will not be overbooked, opening up more usage hours for intramural sports and club teams.

When this project is complete, Quinn will no longer be President at The University, but Courtright, Martin and University Chief of Staff Robert Davis commended him for pursuing the development of the South Side Athletic Campus, which is expected to open during the 2017-18 academic year.

“This athletic campus will help The University meet a critical need for our students and will give the local community an outstanding resource for recreation, league play and economic redevelopment,” Quinn said.

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