To be honest, I don't think there's anything more exciting than an empty stadium.
When you see it empty like that, all you see is possibility.
Salisbury University’s 2014 Homecoming and Family Weekend has a special significance for SU athletics and its fans: On Saturday, October 18, the University unveils the designs of its new $19 million stadium, as well as a planned $10 million renovation of its athletics fields and other facilities. This comes at the official groundbreaking for Sea Gull Stadium.
The new building will be a considerable upgrade over the 1980 one-story cinderblock structure currently there. “The stadium will be over 30,000 square feet,” said Matthew Groves, project manager. “The existing team building could fit into its lobby.”
"This is the largest athletics construction project during my 25 years here,” said Dr. Michael Vienna, athletics director. "This will put our stadium on par with the better Division III stadiums.
"Funding for these projects is coming from institutional, not state, dollars, as well as gifts from generous donors,” he added. “I’m grateful for all their support, particularly the commitment which President Dudley-Eshbach has made to Sea Gull Athletics.”
"I jokingly tell friends that the teams have presented me with so many national championship rings, that those rings are now being used as Christmas ornaments on a special tree I have dedicated exclusively to them during the holidays,” said SU President Janet Dudley-Eshbach. "That tree has a lot of bling!
"Kidding aside, SU has a stellar Division III athletics program. Its dedicated young women and men—and their coaches—deserve facilities and fields worthy of their hard work and talents. We want an athletics complex where loyal fans will enjoy congregating and cheering on the Sea Gulls."
The new four-story stadium is being built on the same spot as the old. The first floor will have four home-team locker rooms for field hockey, football, and men’s and women’s lacrosse, as well as one for visiting teams and for referees. (Those locker rooms are currently located across Route 13 in Maggs Physical Activities Center.) Accessible from its lobby/concourse area on the ground floor will be a retail shop selling SU gear and souvenirs, concession stand with full-service grills and fryers, ticket office, public restrooms, and support facilities including laundry and storage rooms.
On the second floor is an athletic training clinic and a classroom for game preparation, team meetings and minor stretching. The third floor has VIP seating areas with five covered suites for dignitaries and other special guests. The press box is on the fourth floor with the traditional media booth; game operations including areas for the sports information directors, scoreboard staff, announcers and clock operators; technical facilities for video recording for the Sea Gull Sports Network; booths for home and visiting team coaches; and two radio studio booths for home and visiting teams.
The stadium will have bleacher seating for nearly 5,000, some 2,800 on the home team side. Two towers, nearly 80 feet tall, will anchor the building, and provide stairways, elevators and roof trellises designed to accommodate lights.
Materials in the stadium, composed of brick, cast stone and ground face block, are similar in color and texture to those on main campus. The 400-foot façade along Wayne Street will have enhanced lighting. Immediately south is a small park where spectators may gather. Nearby is enhanced parking for visiting team and guest buses.
Architects are GWWO, Inc. of Baltimore, which is working in consultation with 360 Architecture of Kansas City, MO. 360 specializes in sports facilities and its projects have included MetLife Stadium, NJ. The contractor is Whiting Turner of Baltimore.
Construction starts after Christmas, and the stadium is expected to open in spring 2016.
Athletics Fields Upgrading
A major renovation of athletics playing fields is being conceptualized for East Campus. In the first phase, a new tennis building will be constructed that will be ADA compliant. Improvements for the athletic fields include new bleachers and press boxes. The renovations are expected to take a couple of years, once final approval is given by the University System of Maryland Board of Regents. The ultimate goal for the athletics complex is a new field house. Though that is sometime in the future, Vienna believes it would be transformative for the campus.
"As an NCAA Division III school, we do not offer athletics scholarships," he said. "What attracts students, including athletes, is the overall excellence in education. Part of this educational experience is quality of life outside the classroom, including our campus’ appearance. Good student-athletes want to play in good facilities. We think these enhancements will help in attracting students, not only those playing on teams, but those who participate in our very active intramural and club team sports, as well as their families and friends. I think of athletics as co-curricular, instilling values and disciplines that will serve students in their professional, personal and civic lives. These new facilities and upgrades will support that education."
"University athletics and recreational programs often foster a sense of community among alumni, area residents and campus students, faculty and staff. At their best, such programs embody the ancient Roman adage, 'mens sana in corpore sano' — a sound mind in a sound body," said T. Greg Prince, vice president of advancement and external affairs. Individuals and organizations that would like to be a visible partner in SU Athletics and Sea Gull Stadium are invited to do so by contacting the SU Foundation, Inc. at 410-543-6175. Benefactors and donors who already have stepped forward include Draper Holdings, Lili Afkhami and Michael Kelly, and others are giving anonymously."
Sea Gull Athletics And Recretion
Salisbury University sponsors 21 varsity sports in Division III NCAA competition. The Sea Gulls have ranked in the top 10 percent in the national Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup standings for the past 12 years. These standings are a highly recognized mark of distinction in collegiate athletics.
SU has won 153 Capital Athletic Conference championships, 18 NCAA Division III team national championships in men’s and women’s lacrosse and field hockey, and 16 individual NCAA national championships, mostly in track and field.
SU has a very active campus recreation program. Some 40 percent of SU’s students participate in 22 different intramurals leagues and events, and 14 sports clubs, from equestrian to rugby. Men’s rugby is a four-time national champion in its division.