CMU Celebrates Stadium Grand Opening

Sept. 24, 2015 Andy Sneddon, CMUChippewas.com

MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – Central Michigan University unveiled its brand new soccer-lacrosse stadium Thursday afternoon, at the official grand opening and ribbon cutting of the facility that sits southwest of the Student Events Center and west of Kelly/Shorts Stadium.

“We’re here today to celebrate not only this beautiful stadium, but the students of Central Michigan University,” CMU President Dr. George E. Ross said. “This complex is about students – student engagement, student involvement, here at CMU.

“It is truly a student facility and it will engage our students in athletic activities. We’re very proud of it and thankful for the leadership in athletics and the leadership throughout our student-services area.”

The facility, which was completed in eight months at a cost of $8 million, hosted its first event on Sunday, a women’s soccer match between the Chippewas and Illinois State.

It includes team rooms, restrooms, permanent bleacher seating for 1,000 spectators, press box, lights and concessions facilities.

The playing surface is artificial turf, which will enable near-constant use for both CMU lacrosse and soccer along with CMU club sports and intramurals, youth activities, high school events and national-level events, Associate Vice President/Athletics Director Dave Heeke said.

“A first-class facility,” he said. “One that is truly everything that we need, that will serve this university in its entirety in a tremendous way. This is another in a long, long run of huge commitments to our students, the core of CMU.”

Heeke said the stadium fits perfectly with CMU’s athletic mission, its Championship Culture, and its commitment to student-athletes, no matter the level on which they compete.

“Making sure that student-athletes have a championship experience is one of the most important things we do here,” he said. “That experience, combining athletics, academics and personal development, is really the core of our mission and our purpose.

“Providing first-class facilities is a big part of that, and this facility is among the best in the nation.”

On hand Thursday were Bill Kanine, Chairman of the Board of Trustees; former CMU athletic director and baseball coach Dave Keilitz and his wife, Sue; representatives of the general contractor, Michigan-based Miller-Davis, and of the project’s architect, GMB Architecture and Engineering of Grand Rapids; and Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe Director of Public Relations Frank Cloutier.

“It’s beautiful,” said Kelly Spear, a member of the lacrosse team. “I feel privileged to be a part of it and play on it. That was one of my deciding factors to come here. I can say I was a part of something and say ‘I helped build this.’”

Lacrosse coach Sara Tisdale said she has been, and continues to be, impressed by the facility.

“Our recruits have all been blown away, their families have had wonderful things to say,” she said. This really gives us an edge in the recruiting battle. It’s top notch; it’s a top-20 facility without question.”

Soccer coach Peter McGahey echoed the sentiments held by Tisdale.

“I think it’s a hats off to the board of trustees, President Ross, Dave Heeke for committing these kinds of resources and this kind of visual representation of how important women’s athletics are here at CMU,” he said. “It’s going to be a great home for CMU athletics. It’s going to be a facility that compares on a national scale in terms of amenities for the soccer student-athlete but most important is its function and playability is really going to be first class.

“It’s going to create a real awareness of both lacrosse and women’s soccer.”
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