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Board approves athletic facilities, construction to begin

Spring will mark the awaited groundbreaking for new athletic facilities on Northwestern's campus, with the university's board of trustees' recent approval of a $10.7 million construction project. Completion is anticipated for fall 2014, accommodating football, soccer, baseball and softball teams with new, artificial turf fields, and welcoming UNW tennis teams back on campus with six regulation size courts. In addition to the new fields and courts, the complex will feature updated bleacher seating for nearly 1,500 fans, locker rooms for 192 student athletes, and a spirit plaza with restroom and concessions facilities. Funds for the project have been raised through the successful Soar Campaign.

"Moving forward with these improvements for the athletic facilities expands our varsity student athletics and student recreation programs, a necessary development in order to grow and maintain a competitive standard locally and regionally," said Alan Cureton, Ph.D., University of Northwestern president. "It will clearly have a positive impact on our student body and incoming students as we anticipate adding JV teams, launching new varsity programs, and increasing the roster for many of the varsity sports."

Throughout the last decade Northwestern has repurposed multiple athletic venues for academic and community growth, pushing several Eagles teams off-campus for practice and students involved in outdoor campus recreation to city-owned parks. These students will return to campus, as will summer camp attendees and outside community groups.

"This is an exciting time in Northwestern's history," said Matt Hill, Ed.D., vice president for student life and athletics. "The versatility in the design of these four excellent venues benefits our student athletes, the general student body, physical education majors and the surrounding community by providing a well-rounded student experience."

While incoming students will start their athletic careers in new facilities, staff and current students are looking forward to the transition.

"In addition to a new surface and stadium for our team's game day experience, we'll be fortunate to not wear down our baseball team's outfield for practice, and the artificial turf won't allow rain and other weather elements to be a factor in how we prepare for Saturdays," said head football coach Kirk Talley. "The larger locker rooms for student athletes will allow for more interaction among teammates."

Northwestern has contracted with PCL Construction, Inc. for the project. In the Twin Cities metro area, PCL is most recently known for its work on the University of Minnesota's $7.2 million Siebert Field baseball complex, finished in April 2013.