Lakeland University has announced plans to build a $2.8 million outdoor multi-sport athletic complex.
The facility, which will feature Sheboygan County's only turf field, will be home to Lakeland's football and men's and women's soccer teams. Lakeland also announced plans to add men's and women's lacrosse.
“This project has been on the docket for a while. Taylor Field is not quite 50 years old and has served us well,” David Gallianetti, director of external relations at Lakeland University, said. “If you look at facilities our competitors have, it is all trending toward turf. This was a project that needed to happen.”
Gallianetti said tuition should not be affected by the complex.
“Students won’t see a sudden tuition hike because we are building a $2.8 million athletic complex,” he said.
The lighted field, which will also have new bleachers and a new press box, will also be available for local high school football and soccer games, high school tournaments, postseason use and local youth sports needs.
"It will be the only turf field in Sheboygan County, which offers some weather advantages," Gallianetti said. "If some soccer teams in the county had saturated fields, and we have space, they could use our facility.”
It will be available for play in the fall of 2017.
Gallianetti said the complex has been a long-term project planned at the university, but that a home game on the rain-soaked grass Oct. 1 tore up the existing field and accelerated Lakeland's plan to build the turf complex.
"We played Concordia and it literally tore that field apart,” he said. "We knew we were going to have to do something after the damage that occurred at the game. It was going to have to be some kind of financial investment to make that field playable, and it was an opportune decision to say ‘let’s make a financial investment in a facility that can benefit not only football, but both of our soccer teams.’”
The preliminary plan includes a new concession area, elevated viewing platform and a large paved area for tailgating or other events.
University officials said they hope the complex will drive enrollment and lead to a better college experience for students.
“I think it will drive recruitment for athletes and non-athletes both,” Gallianetti said. “It will make for a better game-day experience and, for students that want that complete campus experience, part of that is being able to support the football team.”
Lakeland's football team has seen success in recent years and is currently 3-1 in the conference. The Muskies are seeking a third straight conference championship this year and second straight trip to the NCAA Division III playoffs.
“Historically, with football, we’ve always been good,” Gallianetti said. “We’ve had our peaks and valleys, but the recent history is we’ve been really good.”
Lakeland's leadership has begun discussions locally regarding funding and partnerships that will enhance this community project, which could include special naming rights for the copmlex.
"This strategic initiative will have an immediate positive impact on recruitment and retention for Lakeland, which in turn brings more talented young people to Sheboygan County," President Dan Eck said in a press release.
Source : sheboyganpress.com