UWGB to celebrate soccer stadium's grand opening
24 August 2018
Two years after Gov. Scott Walker announced the State of Wisconsin Building Commission approved several key projects, including a new soccer complex located next to the Kress Events Center on the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay campus, the $4.9 million complex will celebrate its grand opening Friday.
The UWGB men’s soccer team hosts Hartford at 7 p.m. Friday at the Aldo Santaga Stadium at the Kress Family Outdoor Recreation Complex.
Hartford’s athletic director is Mary Ellen Gillespie, who was serving in the same role at UWGB in 2016 when it was announced the school was getting a new stadium.
At the time, she credited community members, donors, philanthropists and alumni for making it possible, as well as UWGB students who paid an additional school fee.
About $4 million of the project was funded by private donations.
A kickoff event starts at 1 p.m. with a panel presentation of the history of the men’s soccer team, followed by the stadium opening ceremony and first kick by Santaga at 5:45 p.m. There will be fireworks after the game.
The Phoenix women have played two exhibition games and opened the season at the complex against Valparaiso on Aug. 17. It lost to the Crusaders 2-1, but it registered the first goal at the facility on a score from freshman and former Sheboygan North standout McKayla Kertscher.
The men also have hosted Omaha and Marquette in exhibition games, and early impressions appear favorable.
“This is the most significant upgrade to our already outstanding facilities in nearly a decade, that alone cements this as a major milestone for the campus community and Green Bay athletics,” UWGB athletic director Charles Guthrie said. “In the first few exhibition games played in the complex, we've noticed an increase in fans coming out to the matches and an uptick in student engagement.”
The facility has a turf field with lights and a state-of-the-art press box along with parking and a plaza. It also has concessions and a restroom building, grandstands, scoreboard and donor wall.
The upgrades make it possible for the soccer teams to host championship games rather than play them on the road. That was a factor last season, when the Phoenix men earned the No. 1 seed in the Horizon League tournament but were forced to play the title game at UIC and lost.
“Being an NCAA Division I program we know, facilities are the great equalizer, and being able to host postseason competition provides a massive advantage to our coaches and student-athletes,” Guthrie said. “We experienced this firsthand last year.”
A new stadium also can do nothing but help in recruiting.
“Green Bay athletics has been founded on tremendous community support,” Guthrie said. “This facility is a reflection of that ongoing support and the understanding from our donors that, in order to recruit the most talented student-athletes, we need to have cutting edge spaces for training and competition,” Guthrie said. “This facility adds another anchor element to the phenomenal experience provided by the Kress Events Center.”