The university’s Board of Trustees has unanimously approved a $4.75 million proposal to design three new athletic stadiums for UConn’s baseball, softball and soccer teams.
Earlier this month, the university released a report detailing the plans for the three new fields, which they estimate will cost about $46 million. Since then, a feasibility report has proved that all three stadiums can be built on existing space available on campus, in the same general area where the facilities currently reside.
The proposed upgrades include a 5,500-seat soccer stadium with an adjoined building for locker rooms. The new baseball stadium would be built on the same site as the Morrone Stadium, the current soccer field. It would seat 1,500 fans, including a press box and luxury boxes. The proposed softball field seats 500, with similar features to the baseball stadium.
The budget also includes suggested renovations to, or the possible demolition of, the Freitas Ice Forum, along with proposed space for a grounds maintenance building and a field for throwing sports, such as javelin and shot put.
The construction will be mostly funded by donors, as UConn hopes that $25 million will be raised through private donations. The remainder of the budget will be raised largely from surcharges on ticket sales, including a $5 increase on football tickets and a $2 increase on basketball and hockey tickets.
The spending approval comes at a time when many believe it is desperately needed. The current baseball and softball fields are without locker rooms, concession stands and restrooms. Athletic Director David Benedict believes that the outdated stadiums have hurt UConn’s recruiting and fan attendance at games. He added that, while the university has effectively supported the football and basketball programs in recent years, all UConn athletics should receive similar renovation.
“We're not an athletic program that has one sport or two sports," Benedict said. "It's important that nationally we have a brand and that people, when they think about UConn, they think about excellence across the board.”
Once the design stage is completed, the Board will reconvene to approve a final construction budget. If all goes smoothly, construction is slated to begin in the spring of 2018.