Manchester University / Alumni / Stadium groundbreaking marks ‘a new day at Manchester’

Stadium groundbreaking marks ‘a new day at Manchester’


Stadium-groundbreaking-large
Todd Saylor ’87 (left) dons a ceremonial hardhat as he poses with Connie Freed Brumbaugh ’56 and
Marty Brumbaugh ’55 at the groundbreaking for the new athletic stadium at Homecoming. Saylor is matching gifts
for the project up to $100,000 and the new press box will be named in his honor. The Brumbaughs are naming the
new scoreboard with their $50,000 gift.

“This is a new day at Manchester,” M Club hall of famer Todd Saylor ’87 told those gathered for the official stadium groundbreaking at Homecoming.

Saylor, a record-breaking split end when he played for the Spartans, knows how much a new facility will mean to student-athletes, so he’s matching gifts for the project up to $100,000.

Current student-athletes like quarterback Alex Downard could not be more grateful. “My favorite thing about my college experience has been the opportunity to represent Manchester University on the football field every Saturday in the fall for the last four years,” said the senior from Indianapolis. “The relationship with my teammates, singing the fight song, big hugs after wins and bigger ones after losses are the moments that will last a lifetime,” Downard said.

A Depression-era federal work program in 1939 funded the current stadium, built with the help of student labor, said President Dave McFadden. “This (new) stadium will serve students for generations.”

An artificial turf surface will allow student-athletes to practice late into the fall and early in the spring and will be less labor-intensive to maintain, noted Athletic Director Rick Espeset. While the current football field gets about 50 hours of use each year, the new stadium will be used as much as 2,000 hours a year, relieving pressure on the heavily scheduled Physical Education and Recreation Center.

Soccer teams can host night games as well, added Espeset, and student-athletes on other teams such as baseball and softball can use it for practice and conditioning. 

The athletic venue, scheduled for completion in June 2020, also will feature a new press box named for Saylor, an eight-lane track, aluminum bleachers and LED lighting.

“Our student-athletes and community will have a sense of pride walking into this facility,” Espeset said.

Senior distance runner Hannah Wappes of Columbia City, Ind., says Manchester’s program already makes her proud. “This new facility,” she added, “will give future Spartans the opportunity to train more efficiently, hold home meets, and strive to create a program that’s not just competitive at the conference level but at the national level.”

Because of poor track conditions, Manchester’s track and field teams haven’t been able to host meets for several years. The new stadium will be ready in time for their spring 2021 season.

“This high-quality facility will strengthen Manchester’s hand at recruiting more high-quality student-athletes,” added Espeset.

He and McFadden both thanked donors for making the stadium project a reality. For one of those donors, Saylor, the stadium “isn’t just about football. It’s about excellence.”

“This is a new day,” Saylor said. “Nothing is ever going to be the same after this.”

For more information or to make a gift to the stadium contact Melanie Harmon, vice president for advancement, at mbharmon@manchester.edu or click here.

By Melinda Lantz ’81