Manchester University
Oak Leaves

October 4, 2019

Manchester Community Prepares for New Stadium

Alex Baker


On Homecoming Saturday, MU will officially break ground on its new athletics stadium. With the track currently being deconstructed and a large pile of dirt on the extra practice field, the scenery is changing, and soon for the better: Student athletes and coaching staff are eagerly  anticipating the new athletic stadium.

They are not the only ones. Pieter Naragon, director of physical plant, is ready to see the outcome of the project. “This stadium has been in the planning and design phase for the past several years and it is always exciting to see these projects come to fruition,” he says. “I am excited that we can provide a better facility and experience for our student athletes that will be competing in this venue.”

Melanie Harmon, vice president for advancement, is also enthusiastic about the project. “The stadium will enhance the overall student experience and relieve a lot of pressure on the PERC,” she says. Not only will be more resources for students to utilize, but also there will be more space to roam around in in the PERC when sports teams will transfer to the new stadium.

Students are eager to start training in the new sports complex. Track and field athlete Madison Haines struggles to contain her excitement. “I know I am really excited to be getting a new facility because our track was so run down,” she says. “It will be nice to actually be able to have our own home meets instead of traveling to other schools all the time.” There are plenty of features that Spartans can look forward to with the new stadium. It will have a synthetic-turf field, an eight-lane track with new field resources, new bleachers, a new press box and LED lighting. Students will have the opportunity to start practicing in their new stadium by fall 2020.

Football and track and field will use the facility the most. However, there will be opportunities for academic programs to embrace the new stadium as well. “Outside of our traditional sporting events for football, track and field, and potentially soccer, the new stadium can also serve our club sports and the exercise science and athletic training departments.” Harmon says.

Even though it is designated as a sports facility, there are many events outside of sports that will take place in the new stadium. “It can also serve our community as a site for a local charity events, the annual Walk into My Future, Special Olympics and more,” Harmon says. “The new facility should better position us to host more camps and clinics too.”

At the groundbreaking ceremony on Saturday, Oct 12, students and staff will speak to the audience about what everyone can look forward to with the new stadium. Athletics Director Rick Espeset and students Hannah Wappes and Alex Downard will share their thoughts on what’s to come for student athletes, coaches and the campus as a whole, according to Megan Sarber, manager of donor relations. Alumni will be in attendance as well.

One of the major donors, Todd Saylor ’87, is going speak about the advances of his alma mater. “After we hear from the speakers, we will officially break ground with a special ‘turning of the dirt’ ceremony,” Sarber says.  The ceremony will be taking place behind the PERC at 9 A.M. on Oct. 12. When construction is complete, the stadium is set to be located east of the PERC.