Manchester celebrates new stadium, thanks donors

Stadium-dedicationCelebrating the official dedication of Manchester’s new Spartan Stadium are (from left) Connie Brumbaugh ’56, Marty Brumbaugh ’55, Lynn Blocher ’55, Todd Saylor ’87, Traci Foltz ’86 Saylor, and MU President Dave McFadden ’82. All were major donors to the stadium project. The Brumbaughs provided the video scoreboard and the Saylors provided the new press box.

Their view was spectacular: a gleaming new multi-purpose athletic stadium with a modern press box, an eight-lane all-weather track, LED lighting and video scoreboard. A steady breeze on a warm September Saturday kept donors comfortable beneath a tent near the legendary Kenapocomoco. 

They sang “Hail to Thee,” Manchester’s fight song, accompanied by MU’s Spartan Pride Marching Band.

And they celebrated what their generous teamwork had achieved.

“We could not have this stadium without your support,” President Dave McFadden ’82 told major stadium donors at the event Sept. 11. “You made all of this possible. … We are grateful for everything you do for Manchester.”

Constructed as a Depression-era federal work program in 1939, Burt Stadium – directly north of the new Spartan Stadium – served Manchester’s football team for more than 80 years.

For at least a few decades, Manchester talked about replacing its natural turf, prone to mud when it rained, with artificial turf, said Athletic Director Rick Espeset. McFadden had a broader vision, however, for a new stadium that could be used by a wider range of athletic teams and students.

“We stand here today and can see the vision,” Espeset said.

The new $2.7 million facility is enhancing the student experience for athletes and non-athletes alike, and it has strengthened Manchester’s hand at recruiting, Espeset added. Students are “prideful walking into this facility.”

The stadium is not only for football, but can be used for soccer games and serves as a rehearsal and performance space for Manchester’s first marching band since the 1960s. In recent years, Manchester couldn’t host track meets because the facility didn’t meet code. Now Manchester’s new track is the envy of many of its competitors.

Enrique-SalazarEnrique Salazar, a junior from Plymouth, Ind., thanks major donors at an event prior to the official stadium dedication. Salazar is a student-athlete on both the track and cross country teams. 

“You made so much possible for my team and me,” said Enrique Salazar, a junior student-athlete on the track and cross country teams.

“The crowds go wild because of this [stadium],” Salazar told the donors. “Part of our success as a team is owed to you.”

McFadden thanked Rick Mann ’89 and his spouse, Susan, for being the first major donors to the project. He also extended special thanks to Todd Saylor ’87, a former Spartan football standout, who donated considerable time raising funds from other alumni and, with his spouse, Traci Foltz ’86 Saylor, provided the stadium’s new press box.

In addition, John and Carol Zeglis provided startup support for the marching band, launched last year, while the generosity of Marty ’55 and Connie Brumbaugh ’56 provided a video scoreboard that engages spectators and enhances their gameday experience.

“The Brumbaughs saw we needed a better sports complex every time they visited campus,” said former football player Ray Hedstrom ’69 at the ribbon-cutting dedication before the Spartans’ game against Alma College. “Recreation is an important part of college life, they believe, and this stadium will be used by most of our students in a variety of ways in the years ahead.”

“At Manchester, athletic competition complements academics and fosters personal growth,” Hedstrom told the crowd. “Long after our student-athletes graduate, the lessons they learned here in character, teamwork and perseverance will continue to shape their lives.”