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The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tennessee)
University of Memphis soccer games are on the verge of returning to campus.
Friday, school officials announced a $500,000 project that will provide lighting to the Billy J. Murphy Track and Soccer complex on the university's Park Avenue campus. Upon completion, all home games played by the Tigers' men's and women's soccer teams are expected to take place there.
"Our student-athletes and coaching staff are so deserving of this addition to our facilities," university president M. David Rudd said in a statement. "It is time to bring our teams back home to the U of M campus."
A Memphis athletic department spokesperson said there is not yet a projected completion date for when the field will be lighted.
The men's and women's soccer teams currently play their home games at the Mike Rose Soccer Complex, more than 14 miles from where they practice.
"Today is a big day for Memphis soccer," said women's soccer coach Brooks Monaghan, who is entering his 18th season at Memphis. "Adding lights to our field brings us one step closer to our home - back on campus where we belong."
This project marks the conclusion of the athletic department's Time to Shine fundraising efforts, according to the school's release on Friday.
The campaign began in 2013 and aimed to raise $40 million for facility additions and improvements. Projects included the $21 million Laurie-Walton Family Basketball Center, renovations to the Murphy Athletic Complex and a new indoor practice facility for football.
Memphis began work on Phase I of the football project, which includes new coaches' offices and training areas, last month. Phase II, which features the construction of the actual indoor practice facility, does not yet have a start date.
As part of the Time to Shine campaign, the university previously installed a new soccer field at the Murphy Track and Soccer Complex and the soccer teams began practicing on it in 2017.
The addition of lights to that field, to go along with the adjacent practice fields on the Park Avenue campus, will allow Memphis' soccer teams to schedule evening matches moving forward.
More importantly, it gives them the permanent home they've been hoping for.
"This really is an epic moment to put a capstone on a project that began with a gift from the Hardin Foundation," Memphis athletic director Tom Bowen said in a statement. "One of the goals of that project was to bring Memphis soccer back home. Thank you to Dr. Rudd for bringing our men's and women's soccer programs home permanently."
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