ORONO, Maine — On Wednesday, February 17 at 9 a.m., the University of Maine at Orono unveiled its Transformative $110 Million Athletics Facilities Plan. It's exciting news for student-athletes, since the investment is designed to impact all 17 of the university's division one sports programs.
This plan is part of a greater $240 million investment by the Harold Alfond Foundation (announced in October) to help bring change to the entire UMaine system. $90 million is being dedicated specifically to sports at UMaine Orono over a period of 10 to 12 years. The university's president Joan Ferrini-Mundy says Wednesday's announcement marked a "historic day". The university is hoping to raise the additional $20 million or more through donors and supporters.
According to Ferrini-Mundy, this plan will impact not only athletics but the entire university and community as a whole. UMaine Athletics partnered with JLG Architects to develop the 10-year plan, which includes building "top-flight" facilities, venues, and stadiums over the next few years while prioritizing gender equity and ADA inclusion. Specific projects include:
- Construction of the UMaine Multipurpose Center, which will house men and women's basketball on campus. This facility will have new men and women's locker rooms, team offices, lounges, film rooms, administrative offices, a "Bear Necessities Fan Shop", and a sports medicine center.
- New synthetic turf fields for UMaine women's soccer, field hockey, and softball
- New turf surface at Mahaney Diamond and upgrades to Mahaney Clubhouse
- Construction of the new Speed Dome, a more than 100,000 square foot enclosed facility with a 100-yard synthetic turf field and 300 meter track
- A second new indoor dome facility, with 60 percent more indoor space than the current dome structure
- Renovations to Memorial Gymnasium, including improvements to Wallace Pool, new locker rooms, upgrades to staff offices, and more branding inside of the building
- Improvements to Alfond Stadium, including new turf on Morse Field and moving bleachers closer to the playing field. Improvements for football in the multipurpose center will include a new locker room, coaches' offices, video/meeting room, and a strength and conditioning center.
- Upgrades to Alfond Arena, like an enlarged entryway and concourse area, the installation of high definition video and ribbon boards, a new sound system, and upgrades Wi-Fi and T.V. services
- Expansion of the Shawn Walsh Hockey Center, with new locker rooms for men and women, a strength and conditioning center, a development center, film rooms, offices, and team lounges.
Ferrini-Mundy says this initiative has been in the works for about three years since UMaine director of athletics Ken Ralph came on board. More intense analysis, planning, and consultation have happened in the past couple of years.
"It's always important to remember that our athletes are student-athletes," Ferrini-Mundy expressed about the importance of this initiative. "They are a part of our student community, and they bring so much -- not only through their participation in athletics but through all that they do on campus and being a part of our community."
The new facilities will also be available for other use, like science fairs, musical events, and high school championships. The goal is to continue to bring the community together through sports -- and give student-athletes a place to thrive.
"By the time we have the spirit that comes through -- cheering our athletes on together with all the other ways in which we can use these facilities to include so many members of our community -- it just becomes quite a central feature for the university," Ferrini-Mundy emphasized.
UMaine Athletics expects to start moving on the plan soon, with small upgrades in summer 2021 and construction on the new fields beginning in summer 2022.
If you're interested in learn more, you can click here. UMaine faculty members will be holding a press conference to talk further about the plan at noon. NEWS CENTER Maine will continue to update this story.