Despite funding controversies, construction of Rafferty Stadium moved forward over the summer, and students returning to campus last week could see the metal skeleton of the stadium begin to take shape.

“Construction is proceeding on time and on budget,” said Dr. Mark C. Reed, senior vice president of administration and chief of staff, of the $11 million project, assuring that the stadium will be ready for the start of the 2015 lacrosse season in February.

With $8 million already collected, the project is closing in on its $9 million fundraising goal. The remaining $2 million construction costs will be taken out of the university’s plant fund.

“In the fundraising world you don’t count a gift until you have it,” Reed explained. “That being said, we have strong verbal assurances that the remaining million dollars will be given to us.”

Reed referred to Rafferty Stadium as the long-awaited final piece of a multi-year plan to elevate Fairfield’s lacrosse program in the hopes of securing an elusive national lacrosse championship.

Students such as Julie Berekery ‘17 said that she did not see a new lacrosse stadium as a priority. “I would have liked to see other things happen first, like AC in the dorms that don’t have it.”

Other students are more enthusiastic about the project. “I don’t think the university favors lacrosse necessarily,” said Meredith LaBerge ’15. “Lacrosse is one of our biggest sports and I think it’s great that they’ll have a new space to practice.”

While admitting that in the future she would like to see the Leslie C. Quick Jr. Recreation Complex redone, LaBerge said she is optimistic that the new stadium will “get more people on campus and in the town itself excited about Fairfield U sports.”

According to Associate Vice President for Facilities Management David Frassinelli, it was a question of when and not if the construction of Rafferty Stadium would take place. “The old stadium was well past its useful life,” said Frassinelli.

“The seating was old and tired, the ticket booth had wires hanging out. It did not look the quality representative of a Division I team,” he added.

Reed agreed, saying that even if the Rafferty Stadium had not been approved, Fairfield would have had to put a significant amount of money into the existing field “just to get it up to reasonable standards.”

“The risk of proceeding with Rafferty Stadium was far less than the risk of not proceeding,” Reed said, adding that during the 2014 lacrosse season “our carpenters had to be out before almost every game checking the bleachers.”

Although Alumni Field was dismantled, Fairfield made an effort to do so sustainably: Parts of the stadium, including the light poles and turf were donated to athletic programs at high schools in the surrounding area, according to Frassinelli.

“We were environmentally conscious,” said Frassinelli. “We made sure that things were put to good use if possible.”

Although Rafferty Stadium may not have been the renovation project that students were clamoring for, Reed assures students that other projects are not far behind.

“We’re doing everything we can to make sure that the RecPlex project gets off the ground as soon as possible,” Reed said offering next summer as a possible start date for construction. “The School of Nursing expansion will follow not long after.”

 

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