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Facility Friday: NWSL Team's Soccer Stadium Plan; UAB’s Protective Stadium; State-of-the-Art Golf Facility

Tabatha Wethal
Facility Friday

Kansas City National Women’s Soccer League team owners announced plans to construct the first soccer stadium to be purpose-built for an NWSL team. The 11,000-seat KC Current stadium is expected to open sometime in 2024.

“From the beginning, our vision has been to create a player-first experience, and facilities for our team that match not only the elite level of these incredible athletes, but also the passionate support of the Kansas City metro and our fans,” said KC NWSL co-founder and co-owner Chris Long. 

With final designs still in development, the estimated $70 million project will be privately financed through the ownership group, with the team signing a 50-year lease for Parcel 8, the approximately 7-acre site on the east end of the Berkley Riverfront in Kansas City, Mo. 

The stadium’s announcement comes about 10 months after the KC Current was awarded a franchise and is the latest in a series of major investments for the team.

Primary design and construction partners include Kansas City-based Generator Studio, JE Dunn and Monarch Build. 

“World-class facilities have proven to be a catalyst in transforming all professional sports,” said KC NWSL Co-Founder and Co-Owner Angie Long. “Tremendous momentum exists in women’s sports specifically, and we are so proud to play a major role in ensuring the sport and also our region benefit from the economics and growth offered by a stadium of this magnitude.” — Kansas City Current 

In Murfreesboro, Tenn., Middle Tennessee State University announced that it has secured funds for a $66 million project to build a new student-athlete performance center.

The Blue Raider Athletic Complex will be sited behind the north end zone of Floyd Stadium. MTSU also announced its plans to make stadium improvements – the first of a three-phase, $100 million-plus plan to upgrade athletics facilities.

Built on the site of the current weight and game day rooms adjacent to Murphy Center, the three-story structure will house training, strength and conditioning, and equipment centers. Football's locker and meeting rooms and personnel offices will be moved from Murphy Center into the new facility.

Design of the new facility will begin immediately, with project completion expected before the start of the 2024 Blue Raider football season. GMC+HOK, a team that helped build similar projects at Vanderbilt, Auburn, Georgia and other universities, will oversee design of the project. The State Building Commission recently approved MTSU's plans for the project.

The Blue Raider Athletics Association's launched its Build Blue fundraising campaign seeking to raise $15 million over five years for the project. — Goblueraiders.com

The nearly $200 million Protective Stadium in Birmingham, Ala., opened its gates for the first time recently as the Blazers hosted Liberty in the home-opening game.

Construction started in 2019 and finished just in time for the home opener in late October.

“The community paved the way to build this stadium, it was a public-private partnership, the state legislature, the county commission, two different mayors and the business community raised over $40 million,” said Hatton Smith of the UAB Athletic Foundation.

New traditions are beginning for UAB fans. Prior to kick-off, thousands of people flocked to uptown to celebrate.

“Tailgating in the past at Legion was in a gravel lot, we didn’t have our home spot, we always used Legion, it was never our own stadium,” said Lauralee Benson, UAB student.

“We have our own stadium now and it’s just so exciting, tailgating life is different, we’re in Greek Life, it’s just a whole different feeling you know,” said Grace Cole, UAB student.

Blazer fans are paving a new path and they are eager to see what the future will hold on their new turf. — WIAT-TV 

Southern Utah University Golf and the City of Cedar City have announced plans for the John L. Evans Golf Center, a brand new, state-of-the-art golf facility to be built at Cedar Ridge Golf Course.

The John L. Evans Golf Center will be a two-story, 5,000-square-foot facility built on the west side of the current driving range at Cedar Ridge. The building will serve the Southern Utah men's and women's golf programs and the Cedar City community. The main floor of the building will contain locker rooms for the men's and women's programs, offices for the coaching staff, and a covered driving range and putting green area.

"This facility will make a positive impact on the daily lives of the men and women on these teams, while also providing another space for the Cedar City community to host events,” Director of Athletics Debbie Corum said. “This is a win, win, win, and we are excited for Coach Church to complete this much-needed project."

The building will also house the Jonathon L. Christy Golf Simulator, a state-of-the-art golf simulator that will allow the teams to train in the winter time in Cedar City while also giving them access to analytics about their swings.

The facility will be named after John Evans, a current volunteer assistant coach and former head coach of the Thunderbird golf programs. Evans coached the Thunderbirds for nine seasons, coached at Cedar High School for 10 seasons, and was the director of golf at Cedar Ridge Golf Course for 30 years.

"The completion of the John L. Evans Golf Center will mark the fulfillment of a long-term goal to provide our student-athletes a first class winter golfing practice facility, as well providing Cedar Ridge and Cedar City a place to host banquets and tournaments," director of golf Richard Church said. He said the facility will be completed using all donor funds. 

SUU Athletics said Jon Christy provided the gift that planted the seed to provide facilities for the men's and women's golf teams. Christy graduated from Southern Utah in 1985 with a Bachelor's degree in business administration and has been an outstanding supporter of Southern Utah University and Southern Utah Golf ever since.

The bottom floor of the building will be a banquet space, giving both the athletic department and the community a space to hold events. The teams will also be able to exit the building and walk right out onto either the driving range or the putting green from that floor.

The City of Cedar City will build the facility and Southern Utah University will lease it for the athletic department..

Construction for the John L. Evans Golf Center is set to break ground at the conclusion of a $700,000 capital campaign. The university said in mid-October that more than half of the money had already been raised.  — Southern Utah Athletics 

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