A rendering on plans to update the Alfond Pavillion. (University of Maine rendering)
The University of Maine unveiled its transformative $110 million athletic facilities master plan in February, due to the generosity of the late businessman Harold Alfond.
The initiative honors Alfond's legacy of support for Maine education and athletics by providing modern facilities for all 17 varsity programs at the state's only Division 1 athletic program and improving the overall UMaine student experience.
In October, the Harold Alfond Foundation announced an historic $500 million investment in Maine and its people. The University of Maine System is to receive $240 million over 10 to 12 years, including $90 million in support for UMaine's $110 million Athletics Facilities Master Plan, according to a recent news release.
UMaine Athletics expects to begin moving on its plans, with small facilities upgrades this summer, before beginning construction on new playing fields in summer 2022.
"Harold Alfond believed in the University of Maine, its students, and the impact of athletics," said Greg Powell, chair of the Harold Alfond Foundation. "He would be very supportive of the direction and current leadership at the university. We are proud to continue his legacy of giving to projects that benefit Maine's universities and its people."
"We are going to build outstanding athletic facilities to support our Black Bear athletes and students and youth from all over the state," added UMaine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy.
"Wins for our athletic program and all the work we do to advance the initiatives supported by the Harold Alfond Foundation will include inclusion and community building. We are Maine's public universities, and everyone will be welcome to engage in our programs, use our facilities and contribute to our success."
Details, renderings and videos honoring Alfond's legacy and providing an overview of the $110 million plan are now available at www.goblackbears.com. The website also includes opportunities for Black Bear Nation to contribute to the campaign to raise the initial $20 million match by joining the Alfond Fund administered by the University of Maine Foundation.
"We are incredibly grateful for the generosity of the Harold Alfond Foundation," said Chancellor Dannel Malloy. "We have a great team headed by President Ferrini-Mundy and Athletic Director Ken Ralph, and a plan that will make UMaine the premier destination for college sports, youth, community and educational events, and recreational athletics in Maine. Now we need Black Bear Nation to help raise the initial $20 million match needed to get the plan done and to do even more."
Ralph and Professor Judith Rosenbaum-Andre, co-lead of the UMS TRANSFORMS athletics planning initiative, will be working with campus committees and convening statewide discussions on utilizing athletic facilities at UMaine to support other UMS universities, high school athletics, persons with disabilities, athletes of all ages and communities that may utilize these new facilities.
"For many years, our athletes have been performing in outdated and even crumbling, cramped facilities. Thanks to the generosity of the Alfond Foundation and support from university leadership, we will be able to provide the quality of facilities necessary for our Black Bears to compete on a national level," said Ralph.
"We are also using this opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to equity and to show our dedication to making Orono the go-to destination for sports in Maine for athletes of all ages. Our students, our fans and the local community have waited a long time for these improvements, and we are excited to get started."
The priority, according to a news release, will be given to projects that advance gender equity like the UMaine Soccer Stadium, a modern sport-specific facility for women's soccer.
UMaine Athletics, which partnered with JLG Architects to develop the 10-year facilities master plan, designed the project to best enhance the student-athlete and fan experience at university events. The plan was carefully constructed to develop facilities to also support a variety of campus programming such as, but not limited to, large academic conventions, music and arts events, and ROTC activities.
The vision of the athletics facilities master plan stretches far beyond the campus community as these facilities will be tailored to host a variation of youth and high school events, the release noted. The UMaine Athletics footprint will be equipped to host high school championships, youth club sports and other regional events as UMaine strives to be the premier destination for youth activities in the state.
An overview of the athletics facilities master plan features:
- Construction of the UMaine Multipurpose Center, the new home of the university's men's and women's basketball on the Orono campus. This facility will feature men's and women's basketball locker rooms, team offices, lounges and film rooms, new administrative offices, a new location for the Bear Necessities Fan Shop and a sports medicine center
- Brand new synthetic turf fields for UMaine women's soccer, field hockey and softball teams
- A turf surface at Mahaney Diamond and significant upgrades to the Mahaney Clubhouse,
- Manufacturing the Speed Dome, a more than 100,000-sq.-ft. enclosed facility complete with a 100-yd. synthetic turf field and 300-meter track
- A second, new indoor dome facility, with 60 percent more indoor space than the current dome structure
- Renovations to Memorial Gymnasium, including improvements to the Wallace Pool, new locker rooms for swimming and diving, field hockey, softball and women's soccer, as well as upgrades to staff offices and extensive additions to the internal branding of the building
- Significant improvements to Alfond Stadium, including a new turf surface on Morse Field, the enclosure of one end zone and tightening the bleachers closer to the playing field.
- Football also will benefit from added support services inside the multipurpose center, including a new locker room, coaches' offices, a video/meeting room and a strength and conditioning center equipped for use by all student-athletes
- Substantial upgrades to Alfond Arena, including a new enlarged entryway and concourse area, the installation of high-definition video and ribbon boards, a sound system and upgraded Wi-Fi and television production services
- The expansion of the Shawn Walsh Hockey Center, with new locker rooms for both men's and women's ice hockey, a strength and conditioning center, along with a hockey development center, film rooms, offices and team lounges.
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