Friday, February 29, 2008

Track/soccer complex to break ground

By Lauren Rothering
Cardinal Staff

With spring approaching, many Saint Mary’s University students are anticipating the return of warm weather and green grass. This spring, however, a new development on campus is accompanying more traditional signs of the season: the construction of the new track and field/soccer complex.

Construction is set to begin as soon as ground conditions permit. Managed by Glenn Rehbein Companies, the complex has been under development for months and has now reached its fourth-generation, and most likely final, master plan, according to Athletic Director Nikki Fennern.

“Now we are into the nuts and bolts of the project,” said Fennern.

Although the basic foundation of the complex has remained the same throughout the planning, many minor details have had to be adjusted, such as the orientation of jumps and location of fences, water and plumbing. Construction is set to occur in two phases. The first will include “all the competitive amenities,” said Fennern, while the second phase will contain aspects such as spectator bleachers and concession areas.

The addition of the complex will serve to bolster current Saint Mary’s athletics, especially men’s and women’s soccer, track and field, and cross country. Although these teams may be the more obvious beneficiaries of the complex, Fennern said that all the teams will benefit. “It’s a great training facility,” said Fennern.

The complex is not only for student athletes, though. The addition of an outdoor track and field/soccer pitch will support many current physical education classes, intramurals and club tournaments on campus.

While enhancing current athletic, academic and club programs, the complex will also affect the future of Saint Mary’s. Fennern believes this development will attract more and better student athletes to Saint Mary’s, especially because of its location. With its presence directly at the entrance of campus, it will be the first thing many prospective students will see upon entering campus from Hwy. 14.

Fennern feels the complex will “send the message” that athletics, whether for athletes or athletic supporters, are an important part of this university’s community.

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