Athletics & Recreation / Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

DU to add soccer stadium, strength and conditioning complex to Ritchie Center

The University of Denver will begin construction this winter on a $6.3 million, 2,000-seat soccer stadium and strength and conditioning complex.

The stadium — complete with lights for nighttime games, new grass surface, drainage system and a synthetic, all-weather practice field — is expected to open in time for the DU men’s and women’s soccer seasons in 2009. The accompanying 10,000-square-foot conditioning center is slated to open in 2010, serving DU’s 17 varsity sports teams.

“We’re very proud of our student-athletes and our athletics program at DU. They demonstrate what collegiate athletics is supposed to be about — excellence on the field and in the classroom,” says DU Chancellor Robert Coombe. “The new facility will support that excellence.”

The stadium and conditioning complex will be financed with a combination of private gifts and University funds.

“I can’t wait to play in it!” says women’s soccer midfielder Lizzy Carlson, a junior. “A lot of people had to donate a lot of money, and I’m thankful for the opportunity.”

The project will change the look of the south and west sides of the Ritchie Center, most notably with a grandstand along the building’s west wall. The grandstand will resemble the stands at the Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium.

The soccer field will be relocated east and slightly south to the edge of the brick walkway that parallels the Ritchie Center. Lights will be put in the corners of the field and a scoreboard in the northwest corner. The top of the grandstand would be on the same level as the Ritchie Center, allowing fans access to concessions and restrooms.

“The stands will be the roof of the varsity fitness facility,” explains University Architect Mark Rodgers.

“We can train whole teams at one time,” says Stu Halsall, assistant vice chancellor for recreation and Ritchie Center operations, noting that the 2,000-square-foot conditioning area that varsity athletes presently use is too small for the hockey or lacrosse teams. By comparison, the Coors Fitness Center is about 10,000 square feet.

The new training space also will have a video room where teams could gather to watch game film.

“This project is a tremendous addition to DU’s first-rate facilities,” says Peg Bradley-Doppes, vice chancellor for Athletics and Recreation. “The new stadium builds upon the momentum already generated by our soccer head coaches Jeff Hooker and Bobby Muuss and makes our national recruiting even stronger.” Currently, both the men’s and women’s soccer teams are ranked first in their respective conferences.

“In the end,” Rodgers says, “it’s the quality of our facilities that lures students, who are the real quality of the institution.”

Read more about the soccer teams’ reactions to the new stadium.

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