The University of Maine has announced that they will be building a new athletic facility on campus. At 9 a.m. on Feb. 17, the university unveiled plans for its transformative $110 million athletic facilities plan. The Harold Alfond Foundation donated $90 million of this money back in October 2020 when it made a $240 million donation to the school with the request that $90 million be used on bettering sports on campus.
In a statement to the UMaine community via email, President Joan Ferrini-Mundy shared that the university “will be raising the initial $20 million match needed to get the athletics work done and do even more.” It appears that UMaine will rely on additional donors and fundraising opportunities to complete this project as the remainder of the $240 million from the Harold Alfond Foundation is set to be spent on new engineering programs and on furthering the development of the graduate and professional studies at UMaine.
Small amounts of construction will begin this summer, but the project will really begin to take off in the summer of 2022. Among the new additions to the athletic facilities will be a new UMaine Multipurpose Center. This will include a home court for the men’s and women’s basketball teams, a Bear Necessities Fan Shop, locker rooms, offices and a sports medicine center. New turf fields will be built for the soccer team, softball team and field hockey team. The baseball field will also get new turf and the clubhouse will be upgraded. A 100,000-square-foot dome will be built which will have a track and a 100-yard turf field. Another dome will be built with 60% more space than the current dome structure on campus. The Morse Field and Alfond Stadium will get new turf and the bleachers will be moved closer to the football field for optimal viewing. Lastly, the Alfond Arena and the Sean Walsh Hockey Center will gain better WiFi connectivity, a new sound system, new locker rooms and more office space.
Although this project is geared toward helping the student athletes succeed, Ferrini-Mundy stressed in her email that all students will reap the benefits of the new facility.
“When completed, this master plan will not just benefit our varsity athletes. It will provide our campus and the state with exciting, flexible space for a number of community events and academic pursuits. From high school athletic championships and STEM education fairs, to other statewide and community events for all ages, UMaine will be an even greater go-to destination,” Ferrini-Mundy said.
It is unclear how this construction and the new facilities will impact student parking as many commuter students use the parking lot near the Alfond Arena for commuter parking during the week. Cutting down on parking could impact a commuter student’s ability to get to class in a timely manner if more parking is not opened up. UMaine administrators have not addressed this concern.
Jack Burnell, a third-year biochemistry major shared his thoughts on the new additions to campus.
“Although the mock-up images of the university’s plans for the new athletic facilities are impressive, I’m wondering what, if any increased funding will be going to vital campus resources like the counseling center. In the coming semesters, a strong support network is going to be needed by students who are dealing with processing the events of the past year whether that’s the loss of a loved one to COVID-19, stress brought on by financial stress, etc. There’s also a need for improvement in various pre-existing buildings too like increased pest control for cockroaches. Improvements in mental health services and the cleanliness of buildings are needed and could definitely be felt by all students. I’m not sold on the idea that new sports facilities would benefit all students,” Burnell shared.
The new facilities bring hope for a future where the UMaine community can gather again on campus. Student athletes will thrive with better facilities and more indoor space to practice during the harsh winters.
“We’re about to make history in UMaine athletics,” Ferrini-Mundy exclaimed.