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Randolph College to break ground on $5 million track and field project

In the News: Coverage from the News & Advance

5/15/2008 11:45:22 AM


By Christa Desrets
Lynchburg News & Advance
Published: May 15, 2008

Randolph College breaks ground today on a $5 million track and field project to provide more athletic and recreational opportunities for students when it is completed by fall.

The college is funding the project through a $5.6 million bond from the Amherst County Industrial Development Authority, said Brenda Edson, school spokeswoman.

The college originally sought funding assistance from the Lynchburg IDA, Edson said, but in the end secured the bond from the Amherst authority because it had more money available.

Joe Mullen, economic development director in Amherst County, said each IDA jurisdiction can issue up to $10 million in financing each calendar year.

The $5.6 million “was how much excess capacity was still available,” he said.

Mullen said nonprofit organizations often seek IDA bonds through neighboring jurisdictions when theirs has reached its maximum yearly allotment.

Edson said about $5 million of the $5.6 million will be put toward the field and track, with the remainder for other projects.

The project will have an eight-lane, 400-meter track and a synthetic turf field. It will be built on top of a current athletic field located adjacent to the school’s Physical Education and Recreation Building and include permanent seating and lighting, a press box, and a concession and restroom area.

“I’m just excited to look out there and see students throwing a Frisbee or tossing a football around,” said Interim Athletic Director Heather Somers. “We’re hoping that this isn’t just a Randolph College facility, that we can partner with the community as well.”

The project, temporarily called the lower field, is the first piece of the school’s ongoing efforts to develop a new facilities master plan, said Professor Rick Barnes, who chairs a committee of faculty, staff and students working on the plan.

The committee’s charge was to plan for a hoped-for growth of 1,200 students over the next 10 years. The college enrolled about 665 students last school year.

“We’re looking at how that impacts campus facilities,” Barnes said, including athletic space as well as classrooms, labs, resident halls and social areas.

The committee plans to complete and submit the plan for approval by the college’s board of trustees in October, Barnes said. Currently, members are working to identify critical needs on campus, one of which was the field and track.

As well as becoming the main field for the school’s soccer and lacrosse teams, the facility will allow the school to increase its intramural and recreational offerings, said Kevin Porterfield, the women’s soccer coach and associate athletic director.

The new facility is planned to be completed this fall, as the former Randolph-Macon Woman’s College enters the second of a three-year transitional period for introducing men’s sports.

This school year, along with its first coed class, the college made its riding program coed and added men’s and women’s cross country and men’s basketball, soccer and tennis. This fall, it will introduce men’s lacrosse, with women’s lacrosse coming in 2009, Somers said.

In its second year, the cross country team can practice on the new lower field instead of along Rivermont Avenue, Somers said. Likewise, physical education classes can use the track instead of a trail system.

More intramural teams will be able to gain field time, she said, instead of struggling to share facilities with the NCAA Division III WildCats teams.

The school’s upper field, which was added in 2001, will continue to be used, Somers said. But the lower field will be closer to the center of campus and mo

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CONTACT: Brenda Edson, Director of College Relations