Copyright 2017 Charleston Newspapers
Several of the University of Charleston's athletic teams soon will have homes much closer to campus.
UC announced Wednesday plans to build the Welch Athletic Complex, a $4 million project that will be home to the Golden Eagles baseball, men's soccer, women's soccer and women's lacrosse teams.
The complex will be named after outgoing UC President Ed Welch, who will retire in June.
"This is the last missing link as far as developing our facilities, UC athletic director Bren Stevens said. "This is what we need, I think, as we try to establish ourselves as a Division II destination. We need that facility on campus. To have all those sports on campus would be a game-changer for us.
The Welch Complex will be built on the current site of Triana Field, the home of Charleston's baseball team, and will be expanded to land closer to the university's campus. It will include include artificial turf, concessions, bleachers, locker rooms and a scoreboard.
The City of Charleston already has approved the closing of 19th Street to provide additional space for the project. The fields will be available for community use when not being used by UC's teams. Stevens said the university hopes to begin construction of the facility sometime after the spring 2018 sports season.
Currently, Charleston's athletic teams are spread throughout the area. The men's soccer and women's lacrosse teams play at Schoenbaum Stadium at Coonskin Park. The women's soccer team plays at the Soccer Fields at Trace Fork. The Golden Eagles' football stadium is at Laidley Field.
UC has made several significant moves in recent years in improving its athletic facilities. Last year, the university opened the Wehrle Innovation Center, which serves as the home of the Golden Eagles men's and women's basketball teams and men's and women's volleyball teams.
"I think our arena is one of the nicest venues in Division II, Stevens said. "I think we did it right. I think from the whole way that came about, it's something that we're really proud of. With this complex, I think our facilities will definitely be some of the best in Division II and will help us recruit the type of student-athletes we want to at this university.
The complex is part of an $8 million comprehensive campaign that also will fund the second phase of UC's innovation programming.
Bernard E. Layne III, chairman of the Welch Challenge Campaign, said the complex is a great way to honor the contributions Welch has made to UC in his 29 years at the school.
"Dr. Ed Welch is a true visionary in the field of higher education, said Layne. "His innovative approach to education and athletic competition has changed the complexion and perception of the University of Charleston during his 29-year tenure. This campaign will move his original master plan and innovation programming vision forward and will serve as a capstone to his remarkably brilliant career at our University.
Read More of Today's AB Headlines
Subscribe to Our Daily E-Newsletter