Premium Partners

Facility Friday: N.J. Waterfront Athletic Complex, UNF Arena's New Hospitality Suite, MSU's Bobcat Athletic Complex

Tabatha Wethal

A new $15 million, eight-acre complex of synthetic turf fields for soccer, baseball, track and field, lacrosse and more will provide additional athletic space for both city residents and the Rutgers-Camden athletic program.

Officials debuted a $15 million eight-acre complex of synthetic turf fields for soccer, baseball, track and field, lacrosse and more in early October.

The new facilities have a prime view of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge and the Philadelphia skyline.

The complex will provide additional athletic space for both city residents and the Rutgers-Camden athletic program.

For the first time, the school’s track and field team will have their own home field where they can practice and face opponents, Athletic Director Jeff Dean said. The new space will also allow the university to possibly add a men’s lacrosse team and women’s field hockey.

While construction of the complex has been going on for about a year and is largely complete, there’s still more work to be done. The facility will likely open in mid-November, said James Lex, the executive director of the Camden County Improvement Authority. 

Rutgers footed $7.5 million for the project, half the bill, while the Rowan University/Rutgers–Camden Board of Governors contributed $3.5 million and the county footed $4 million, according to Dan Keashen, a spokesperson for the county.

The new fields sit on the site of the former Campbell’s Field, where a minor-league baseball team called the Camden Riversharks played from 2001 to 2015. Before that, the site was home to a Campbell’s Soup canning plant.

The site will become an integral part of the Rutgers-Camden campus, but the park will be run by the county.

Once completed, it will likely be open from dawn to dusk said Maggie McCann Johns, the director of the Camden County Parks Department.

While the facility will be open to the public, she said that there will be certain times when Rutgers will have dibs on certain fields and that other organizations can apply for permits as well.

“If there’s a (Rutgers) soccer game you’re certainly welcome to come watch… but you’re not going to be able to go on the field,” McCann Johns said.

She said Rutgers will let the county know when they need fields reserved before the beginning of the season for each respective sport. That information will then be available on the Camden County website so residents can anticipate when the facilities will be free. — TapIntoCamden 

As part of a continued effort to revitalize the home of the University of North Florida Ospreys in Jacksonville, the athletic department committed to creating a state-of-the-art hospitality suite in UNF Arena. The UNF athletics department announced the project on Oct. 20.

For an arena that was built nearly 30 years ago, UNF Arena does show its age in some areas. One of the most obvious is the lack of luxury seating, something that many athletic programs have prioritized in recent years.

This will no longer be the case for UNF, though, as the million-dollar project is scheduled to get underway following the upcoming basketball season. The project was largely funded through fundraising efforts and naming rights, most notably the Bank of England, a familiar partner of UNF athletics.

“Another reason we’re doing this hospitality suite first — why we prioritize this project — is because this will be a catalyst for future fundraising projects,” UNF Director of Athletics Nick Morrow said.

Recent arena renovation projects have included new LED lights and new lower-level bleachers. Going back a few years, the large video board that hangs above center-court was one of the first steps that helped bring the venue into the modern age. 

Morrow recently completed his 100th day as athletic director, which makes the announcement of this project even more impressive. He hopes that this project will lead to further advancements in UNF’s gameday experience.

“I talked about creating the best fan experience we can. This is our goal and this is how we’re working towards it,” Morrow said.

UNF plans for the revenue returned by the hospitality suite to be used for other non-arena projects.

“The hospitality suite is going to help us for every one of our projects we want to do across campus. Not just the arena project,” Morrow assured. “We’re talking about a new soccer complex, tennis clubhouse, baseball stadium, upgrades to softball batting cages. All those things will come from having this space that we can entertain donors and sponsors…” 

Further down the road, the athletic department hopes to find more naming rights partners to fund other projects, such as a new arena floor and upgrades to the arena exterior. In the nearer future, though, a new sound system will be installed alongside the hospitality suite’s construction. 

With monumental projects like these being announced, it’s safe to assume that UNF athletics are in good hands. The Ospreys will be able to proudly call UNF Arena their home nest for years to come. — UNF Spinnaker

 

In Bozeman, Montana State University students, faculty, alumni and fans celebrated the opening of the university’s newest facility this month.

The 40,000-square-foot Bobcat Athletic Complex, attached to the north endzone of Bobcat Stadium, will provide student-athletes with study spaces, locker rooms and team meeting rooms, as well as training, health and rehabilitation facilities. It will also house the Bobcat football program, including offices for coaches and staff.

“Today we celebrate the grand opening of the Bobcat Athletic Complex, a facility that will transform the student-athlete experience at MSU for all 350 of our Bobcat student-athletes,” Athletics Director Leon Costello told the crowd. “The Bobcat Athletic Complex provides the tools and resources to recruit, develop and care for all of our student-athletes by focusing on the physical and mental aspects of competition, while supporting their academic journey at MSU.”

Thanks in part to 525 donors, the BAC raised the needed $18 million in just two years. According to Costello, it is the largest fundraising campaign in athletics history.

“The foundation of our athletic programs consists of thousands of Bobcat fans and donors that support us regularly,” Costello said. “Our success as a department is not possible without all of you, and this facility is not possible without the 525 donors that generously donated to it. Thank you for your continued support of Bobcat athletics.”

Highlights of the BAC include a weight room; athletic training room; a hydrotherapy space with hot and cold plunge pools and underwater treadmill for lower-body injury recovery; and an attached Bozeman Health clinic for easy access to team doctors and athletic trainers.

Bobcat football head coach Brent Vigen, who was hired in February, said he couldn’t be more pleased with the facility and noted that its opening came during a prime time for athletics. Vigen, who was previously the offensive coordinator at the University of Wyoming and North Dakota State University, said the BAC puts the football team on the right track to be on the same level as high-profile teams nationwide.

Along with helping the day-to-day lives of student-athletes, Vigen added that the BAC and its amenities will be an incredible recruiting tool for prospective players and will make a great first impression of what MSU has to offer.

“A first impression to a student-athlete, a young man and his family is critical in recruiting. You get a snapshot of what you think of a university, a community, and the commitment this demonstrates is off the charts,” Vigen said. “We’ve hardly had a chance to utilize it in recruiting [so far], but I look forward to the many times ahead because a student-athlete and his family can come here and say they can reach their potential without any question with a facility like this.” — MSU

 

In Escanaba, Mich., the Ludington Park tennis courts have been resurfaced multi-use courts. The four tennis courts also have pickleball lines, so players can adjust the net to play pickleball.

The project cost $225,000 and the City of Escanaba says it cost more because of the polyurethane surface. The surface has a rubberized matting, making it easier on the body’s joints. It was paid for by the City of Escanaba and various businesses and residents.

The city is in the process of turning the other courts around Escanaba into multi-use courts.

“We’re going to paint some permanent pickleball lines and then we’re going to have some storage units that people can call the Recreation Department and get a combination. In that storage unit, we have portable pickleball nets that they can set up daily,” said Kim Peterson, Escanaba’s recreation director. — Upper Michigan Source

AB Show 2021 in San Antonio
AB Show is a solution-focused event for athletics, fitness, recreation and military professionals.
Learn More
AB Show
Buyer's Guide
Information on more than 3,000 companies, sorted by category. Listings are updated daily.
Learn More
Buyer's Guide