St. Vincent College to replace turf, upgrade athletic facility
St. Vincent College plans in late spring to replace the nearly 10-year-old artificial surface of its soccer and lacrosse field and to install other upgrades including a new scoreboard, shot clock, score table, players' benches and spectator seating.
The enhanced facility will be named UPMC Field, recognizing the lead donor toward the roughly $1 million project, college President Brother Norman W. Hipps said at a ground-breaking ceremony Thursday morning. St. Vincent and UPMC officials didn't disclose the amount of the donation.
The Pittsburgh-based health care provider has an established relationship with St. Vincent's athletics program. UPMC sports medicine physician Dr. Jeanne Doperak serves as the its team physician.
According to school officials, the field is the most widely used on the college's Unity campus. It also is home to intramural sports including soccer, flag football and ultimate frisbee as well as youth camps, clinics and tournaments — such as a Nike girls lacrosse camp for ages 10-18 and the World Cup Soccer Camp for ages 8-17.
The Pittsburgh Steelers, wrapping up their 52nd annual summer training camp on St. Vincent campus this weekend, also may have occasion to use the artificial turf field for practices if damp weather prevents use of the grass field the team prefers.
“Having artificial turf as a backup on those rainy days is really important for them,” Hipps said.
“The new field will be a great addition for, number one, the students here,” said Art Rooney II, president of the Steelers and a member of the college's board of directors. “On occasion over the summer, when we're here, we may have a chance to use it as well,” he said of the team.
Walkways, lighting and landscaping will complete the field upgrade, set for May.
According to sports information director Jeff Zidek, work to replace the turf won't be done until after teams that use the field complete their final games of the spring season.
Hipps said fundraising for the project is ongoing. The completed facility will “provide a very attractive space where the access to the field is welcoming, where sitting and watching the game is a comfortable experience and the quality of the field is top-notch,” he said.
Enhancing sports facilities is an important part of the college's efforts to attract students, Hipps said. “We're an NCAA Division 3 school,” he noted. “That means there are no athletic scholarships. The way you recruit students is you demonstrate the quality of your academic programs, your facilities, your coaches. It's absolutely essential.”
The Steelers' final St. Vincent practice session open to the public begins at 2:55 p.m. Friday.
Rooney said his family's relationship with the college goes back more than 52 years.
“It really goes back to my grandfather,” he said. “He was a great supporter of St. Vincent even before we started coming here for training camp.”