It’s 'Game Time' for Athletics Fields Project
Members of the university community, including regents, donors, and many current and former student-athletes, joined with civic leaders and friends of the Department of Athletics to launch the long-awaited construction of new outdoor sports facilities.
Phase I of the construction will include the renovation of an existing soccer and lacrosse field (Al-Marzook Field), the relocation and construction of a softball field, and the construction of a baseball field. The renovation of Al-Marzook Field is scheduled for completion in early August, in time for fall 2005 competition. Construction of the baseball and softball fields will be completed in November 2005 for spring 2006 competition.
Phase II of the Home Field Advantage project will consist of the construction of a track surrounding an all-purpose playing field.
One of the most significant aspects of the project will be the baseball field construction. The university’s baseball team has been playing without a home field since 1985.
“I know how special having a home field is,” said Katie Gardiner ’05, who played on the women’s soccer team for four years at Al-Marzook Field, which is badly in need of repairs. “The memories that will always stay with me have to do with the field itself – the ambience of a Friday night game under the lights . . . The smell of the grass and hotdogs, hearing all of our fellow athletes screaming and cheering for us.
“Our home field embodies the passion, pride, and overwhelming sense of community at this school. Every Division One athlete has a right to be in love with their home field,” Gardiner said. “Now every team at Hartford will be provided with this opportunity because of all of you.”
Guests at Wednesday’s groundbreaking ceremony included West Hartford Mayor Scott Slifka; Home Field Advantage Campaign Co-Chairs Robert Forrester and Gary LaRocque; and Tom Reich, who, together with his wife Suzy Reich, are the lead donors to the campaign. Among the former student-athletes in attendance was Ed Gombieski ’56, a former Hawks basketball player who traveled from Dallas to be at the groundbreaking ceremony.
No one has been waiting longer for the new fields than A. Peter LoMaglio, athletics director at Hartford from 1949 to 1970. LoMaglio, who also attended the groundbreaking ceremony, said he struggled for years with inadequate athletics fields, and he is thrilled that student-athletes will now have the facilities they deserve.
“I think this is great,” a beaming LoMaglio said Wednesday. “It’s really beautiful.”