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The Buffalo News (New York)
By the end of the fall, Medaille College soccer teams will be playing on a brand-new field in an industrial area near South Buffalo.
But college leaders say their new athletic facility is about much more than just the school's needs. The goal is to benefit the entire community, they say, including surrounding neighborhoods, area soccer clubs, nearby schools and even businesses.
"We need it. Our city needs it," said Medaille President Kenneth Macur. "We're trying to figure out how to make this space an asset to the community as well as for Medaille College."
The small four-year college and developer Jon M. Williams will formally break ground today on the Medaille Sports Complex at Buffalo Color Park, designed to create a new home for four of Medaille's sports teams as well as host local high schools and adult sports leagues. The college signed a 15-year lease as the anchor tenant.
The fields will be used by the school's soccer and lacrosse teams, but Medaille also will rent it out for use by other organizations when the college doesn't need it.
Officials hope to have the outdoor fields done before winter, followed by the indoor facility next year.
"The highest priority is getting that field ready, as soon as we can, so we can sneak in a couple of games by the end of this soccer season," Macur said.
The new athletic complex is part of a larger project by Williams' South Buffalo Development LLC, which is seeking to convert the 21-acre former Schoellkopf and Buffalo Color buildings at Elk and Lee streets into a commercial, residential and retail development. That will include the new headquarters for Williams' primary demolition company, Ontario Specialty Contracting.
Officials didn't initially have a plan for the grassy part of the property on the other side of Lee until a sports promoter — who is no longer affiliated with the project — came along with Medaille.
"We're so excited to partner with Medaille, and there's a need in the city for turf space," said Tess Williams, Jon Williams' daughter and the project manager for South Buffalo Development.
Plans for the $4 million complex envision a multisport and multiuse facility, on a 5-acre portion of the larger property. It will feature a 26,400-square-foot indoor field house at 427 Elk, as well as an outdoor athletic turf field — measuring 300 feet by 300 feet — at 85 Lee.
Besides a sheltered practice field, the indoor facility will include a 5,000-square-foot weight room, a 40-person classroom for the teams, two 40-person locker rooms for the Medaille lacrosse teams and two 20-person locker rooms for visiting teams. It also will have locker rooms for the referees.
There also will be some offices, restrooms and storage space. And plans include a scoreboard on the south end of the field, facing the Niagara Thruway.
A concessions operation is under consideration as well, but is not yet final, and Macur would not say if it might include alcohol sales. "Until it's set, it's not," he said. "Everything's in flux."
Medaille will largely use the facilities in the evenings, "because we like our student athletes to practice from 6 at night until 10, after classes are done," Macur said. That makes the school "an ideal master tenant," he said, because "it really gives an opportunity for high schools or other after-school use of the facility."
Additionally, he noted, the facility would be available for "the entire summer" and most weekends. Neighborhood schools could use it for physical education classes. And the college also will look for other opportunities to maximize the capacity, including possibly offering business or other classes at the site for employees of nearby companies.
"We're looking at this with a wider lens than just: What do we need?" Macur said. "It is: How can we talk about this being a community asset?"
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