NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – Merrimack College, in conjunction with its Together for Good Campaign, is pleased to announce that construction has begun for a state-of-the-art Outdoor Athletic District that will include a new stadium and track and the redevelopment of current facilities to support nearly half of its 24 varsity athletic programs and its nearly 600 student-athletes.
The College held an official groundbreaking ceremony on Friday afternoon at Schelzi Plaza, located outside of the main entrance to the Merrimack Athletics Complex. President Dr. Christopher E. Hopey, Co-Chair of the Competing for Good initiative Richard Gallant and the Merrimack College Board of Trustees joined Director of Athletics Jeremy Gibson for the ceremony, which celebrated the next milestone of the Agenda for Distinction and the College's Together for Good Campaign.
"We are breaking ground today on what will be a truly outstanding track, field and stadium," President Hopey stated. "But its primary purpose -- as with all the new buildings and major renovations we have seen on our campus -- is as a signifier, of what we can accomplish and what we will accomplish, together. What truly defines Merrimack is not the things we build, but the people we build -- and not the process of construction, but the fact that it is a community effort."
"We are thrilled to officially announce the construction for the Outdoor Athletic District as part of the Together for Good Campaign," said Gibson. "This brand new and modernized complex will make Merrimack even more competitive on the field, as well as in recruiting, and it will solidify our place as one of the top institutions in the region. I am deeply grateful to our Board of Trustees, President Christopher E. Hopey and the college administration for their contributions and dedication to this project as we continue our efforts to enhance the student-athlete experience at Merrimack."
"I am a firm believer in the benefits that athletics provides for our community by engaging students, developing teamwork, building confidence and growing leadership skills," said Gallant. "When you look at Merrimack College, it's not just about athletics; it's about athletics, academics and the student experience. President Hopey has a broad vision for the growth of this College, and this new facility is just more evidence of how that vision is translated into action."
Headlining the project is the construction of a stadium complex with a multipurpose field turf surface and eight-lane track that will become the new home to the Merrimack College field hockey, football, women's lacrosse, men's lacrosse and women's and men's track & field programs.
Additionally, all current outdoor athletic facilities – including Martone-Mejail Field and the Warrior Baseball Diamond – will be redeveloped for the Merrimack College men's and women's soccer, baseball and softball teams.
The new stadium will provide permanent seating for a capacity of 2,500 – with a mixture of chairback and bleacher-style seating – overlooking a turf surface that will include lighting structures. Additional spectator areas will push overall capacity to over 4,000.
Affixed atop the stadium will be a press box, as well as luxury suites and coaches' suites. The complex will include a new sound system, as well as a state-of-the-art scoreboard. The facility will also include an eight-lane, 400-meter track that will surround the field, with all field events being incorporated within the facility as well.
The project will also include a complete revamping of Martone-Mejail Field, which had been the only turf field on campus. The synthetic turf surface will be replaced and a portion of the field will be repurposed for the incorporation of a softball diamond, which will become the new home of the Merrimack College softball team. As part of the softball team's relocation, permanent dugouts will be constructed, as well as a new bullpen area.
Warrior Baseball Diamond, meanwhile, will be rebuilt, while new dugouts and bullpens will be constructed. New drainage and irrigation will be installed underneath the field.
The completion of this project will not only enhance the varsity sport student-athlete experience; the redevelopment of over 350,000 total square feet of land will directly benefit club sport, intramural sport, recreational and community use. Merrimack's student body size has risen by over 1,000 students over the past decade, and the possibility to host Commencement at the new stadium will now be an option to enhance the quality of one of the College's most memorable annual events.
Construction began at the conclusion of the spring semester and will continue over the summer and into the fall. It is anticipated that the re-turfing of Martone-Mejail Field and the construction of the softball dugouts will be completed in time for the start of the preseason when all varsity teams return in August. The new stadium complex is anticipated to be completed during the fall season, along with the enhancements to the baseball facility.
The Outdoor Athletic District is another major component of the College's historic capital Campaign, Together for Good, which has raised more than $38 million to date. To learn more about Competing for Good and other Campaign initiatives, please visit www.merrimack.edu/togetherforgood.
What Merrimack Head Coaches Are Saying
Dan Curran (Football): "The new facility upgrades are going to be an absolute game-changer for not only Merrimack Athletics but for the entire Merrimack College Community. It took a tremendous amount of hard work by both President Hopey and Jeremy Gibson to turn this plan into a reality, and the new facilities will give us a chance to take an already-great product to the next level. This is obviously an exciting time for Merrimack College Athletics, and I feel extremely fortunate for our program to be a part of it."
Jacky Mendes (Track & Field): "It's wonderful news that Merrimack College is building these new facilities. Having a track will be amazing for our program; our student-athletes have accomplished outstanding things without anything to call our own, highlighted most recently by the women's team earning seventh place at the NCAA Division II Indoor Championships and the men placing third at the Northeast-10 Conference Championships. Our own track and field facility will unleash the full potential of our student-athletes."
Mike Morgan (Men's Lacrosse): "We're incredibly grateful for the support of the College and excited for the opportunity to enjoy the benefits that these upgrades will provide. Obviously, having a facility like this to call our own will be a huge recruiting tool and will help us continue to attract the top-tier student-athletes nationwide, ones that will help us achieve the high goals we have for our programs. From an aesthetics standpoint, the new stadium will make a for great environment for our home games, and the larger capacity will help in handling the larger crowds we have become accustomed to drawing. We're all incredibly excited to play there next spring and beyond."
Julie Duffy (Women's Lacrosse): "Merrimack College's commitment to the success of the athletic department and the student-athlete experience is yet again being shown by this enormous upgrade of our outdoor facilities. The women's lacrosse program is thrilled to compete in a top-notch facility that we will soon be able to call home. These facility upgrades will not only help our current players, but the future of Merrimack College women's lacrosse student-athletes, as well as the countless other student-athletes who will benefit from this project."
Elaine Schwager (Softball): "It's certainly been an exciting past few months not just for our program, but for Merrimack College altogether. The positive momentum that this institution has enjoyed for nearly a decade is undeniable, and with the support of President Hopey and the Board of Trustees our athletic department continues to grow, and this project is just another example of that support. We look forward to relocating to a new on-campus home that will provide us the opportunity to play far greater games on campus than ever before."
Nick Barese (Baseball): "The upgrades Merrimack College and the Athletic Department are investing in are great not only for the baseball program, but the athletic community as a whole. President Hopey and Jeremy Gibson continue to work towards providing the best possible environment for our student-athletes and their supporters."