Courtesy Hamilton Sports Information
CLINTON, N.Y. - A second anonymous donor has recently stepped forward with a million-dollar gift to Hamilton College, this time to replace the natural grass at Steuben Field with an artificial grass surface.
The college's Board of Trustees approved moving ahead with the project once all funding is secured. The complete cost of the upgrade is projected to be $1,350,000, with the balance of the funds contributed by Hamilton alumni, primarily former members of the football and lacrosse teams, and parents of current student-athletes. Steuben Field was originally constructed in 1897 and last received renovations to the natural grass surface in 2003.
According to Athletics Director Jon Hind '80, construction of the field will begin immediately and be completed prior to the football team's first home game on September 26 against Amherst College. Hind said that in addition to football, the field will be used by the men's and women's lacrosse teams. It will also host intramural competitions and reduce the number of evening and late-night practices.
"This is a major and necessary upgrade that was first identified years ago," said Hind. "The need became more acute last fall when it almost became necessary to move a football game because of unplayable and unsafe field conditions."
Acting President and Dean of Faculty Joseph R. Urgo said the need for improved athletics facilities was recommended strongly by the strategic planning subcommittee studying athletics. The Strategic Plan approved in December adopted the subcommittee's recommendation by advocating that the college "pursue those projects that can be accomplished in the short term through the plant renewal budget or through philanthropic support."
The lead gift to upgrade the Steuben Field playing surface is the third million-dollar commitment announced by Hamilton in the past three weeks. The first two, from an anonymous donor and from Board Chair A.G. Lafley, will establish endowed funds for student scholarship aid.
Urgo said the sudden wave of million-dollar gifts to Hamilton is important symbolically and for the impact they will have on campus.
"These gifts will fund important needs for our students," said Urgo, "but they also signal that Hamilton, through the support of its alumni, parents and friends, is continuing to invest in its students and programs, even during this difficult economy. Our objective is to emerge from this recession as an even stronger college able to meet the needs of an increasingly talented, capable and diverse student body."