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Clarke University Announces $4M Facilities Upgrade

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Telegraph Herald (Dubuque, IA)

 

When Clarke students return for the fall semester, the campus will look dramatically different.

Clarke announced on Friday that it has broken ground on a $4 million upgrade to its soccer/lacrosse field with a completion date of Aug. 1. The enhancements will re-turf the current field (located on the northwest end of the campus) along with the addition of an adjacent football practice field, new locker rooms, a fitness center and an expanded weight room.

Spurring the renovation is the addition of the startup Clarke football program, which will begin practicing this fall and start competing in 2019, but the Pride lacrosse and soccer teams will also make full use of the upgrades.

University Athletic Director Curt Long said Clarke athletics will have grown to 21 sports by next semester, facilitating the need for this outdoor overhaul. He added this project has been in the works for several years, even pre-dating when Clarke announced it would be launching a football team back in 2015.

"This has actually been in the plans for quite some time, even before we announced football," Long said. "We knew that we were going to try to upgrade our facility for soccer and lacrosse. But timing wise, with football coming in, that certainly has become a factor.

"We want it in place by the time students move back in the fall. In working with the architects, we set Aug. 1 as our date and they've been able to put it all together."

Straka-Johnson Architects designed the fields and Conlon Construction is the project's general contractor. Both companies are based out of Dubuque.

When the project is complete, the new-look game field will be marked for soccer, lacrosse and football, measuring 70 yards in width and 120 yards in length. It will also contain football goal posts and a press box.

The football details don't alter Clarke's plans to compete at Dalzell Field, Long said. Making the field amenable to hosting football games, though, allows the university to host junior varsity games and for the team to properly simulate scrimmages without crowding the Dubuque Community School District's facility.

The fitness center, locker rooms and weight room will be located on the ground floor of the Robert and Ruth Kehl Center. The locker rooms will serve all three sports - football, lacrosse and soccer. Those portions were designed by FEH Associates (Dubuque) and will be constructed by Sheets Design Build (Maquoketa).

"As you grow and your athletic population gets that large, you have to expand your facilities," Long said. "We've been talking about this for a long time. As your enrollment continues to grow athletically, we just have to make these adjustments to improve the experience for our students."

The practice field is also designed with football in mind, measuring 70 yards by 60 yards with a goal post. Both fields will contain LED lighting and be enclosed by fencing. Clarke will also add netting around both fields.

The university did not announce any main donors for the project. Long said Clarke's Institutional Advancement department reached out to numerous donors for funding, but there is no naming gift to date.

By summer's end, Clarke's campus will be ready to house football. The university's AD couldn't be more excited.

"This project will allow us to block practices, compete with the weather and provide for a real quality athletic atmosphere," Long said. "We're all thrilled about it."

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April 24, 2018
 
 
 

 

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