MACON — Mercer University broke ground and unveiled plans for its new football and lacrosse complex during a Homecoming weekend ceremony following today’s Board of Trustees meeting.
Several hundred faculty, staff, students, trustees and community members were on hand for the ceremonial groundbreaking, which was held adjacent to the construction site. Excavation work began about six weeks ago, and the facility is expected to be completed early next fall, in time to accommodate practices for Mercer’s first class of football recruits.
The Board of Trustees last November unanimously approved the University’s return to competition in intercollegiate football in 2013, ending a 70-year hiatus for the sport at Mercer. The first intercollegiate football game played in the state was between Mercer and the University of Georgia in 1892. Mercer’s men’s lacrosse team – the first NCAA Division I program in Georgia – began competition last spring. Mercer’s women’s lacrosse team will also begin competition in 2013.
In recognition of the lead gifts for the football and lacrosse complex, President William D. Underwood announced at the groundbreaking the naming of four major components of the project:
- The Homer and Ruth Drake Field House
- The William H. Anderson II Family Field
- The Marshall and Jane Butler Family Plaza
- The Tony and Nancy Moye Family Football and Lacrosse Complex
Underwood unveiled renderings of the complex showing the initial phase that includes the field house, the playing surface, seating, a press box, and plazas on both sides of the field with restrooms and concessions. The facility will accommodate 6,000 spectators.
The Homer and Ruth Drake Field House will also include a sports medicine clinic that will be operated by the Mercer School of Medicine. It will provide physical therapy services and treat student-athletes as well as the general public. Other features of the field house include football and lacrosse coaches’ offices, team meeting rooms, a student lounge, locker rooms, a weight room and a training room.
“This facility is a beautiful and well-thought out design that has taken into consideration both our present needs and potential future needs. This will truly place Mercer football at the forefront in our recruiting and branding efforts,” said Mercer Head Football Coach Bobby Lamb. “Likewise, it will give the entire Macon and Middle Georgia community a facility in which they can have great pride. The stadium complex will be a place we hope is as inviting to the community, faculty, staff and alumni as it will be to young men wishing to continue their football careers as a Mercer Bear.”
“This facility not only provides a home to the Mercer lacrosse and football programs, but also demonstrates the University’s commitment to making certain that all of its athletic teams have what we need to compete at the highest level,” said Head Men’s Lacrosse Coach Jason Childs. “A facility like this solidifies your program in the eyes of a recruit and helps send a message that we do things the right way here. It will also, no doubt, become a point of pride for everyone on this campus and beyond.”
The stadium complex was designed by McMillan-Pazdan-Smith Architecture of Spartanburg, S.C., and the general contractor is Chris R. Sheridan & Co. of Macon.
Archived video of the groundbreaking ceremony is available at www.mercer.edu/football.