The University of Maine softball, women’s soccer and field hockey teams all will be playing on new fields in the near future.
Those facilities have been identified as some of the initial upgrades planned by the athletics department to take advantage of the $110 million raised through recent fundraising initiatives, according to a reliable source.
UMaine in October announced that the Harold Alfond Foundation had made an unprecedented gift of $90 million for athletic facility improvements. The UMaine athletics department is working on raising $20 million to complement the Alfond gift.
UMaine plans on Wednesday morning to reveal the details for the first phase of its upgrades.
The soccer team has in recent years been playing on the FieldTurf at Mahaney Diamond, the home of the Black Bears’ baseball team. UMaine athletics director Ken Ralph has been adamant about providing the soccer team with its own field.
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The team formerly played on Alumni Field, a grass pitch located behind Mahaney Diamond that has been plagued by poor drainage.
UMaine head coach Scott Atherley in 2015 applauded the move to Mahaney Diamond, especially since the Black Bears’ America East opponents were playing on artificial turf fields.
The field hockey team’s campus facility needs to have its Astroturf surface replaced and the softball team has played at Kessock Field since 2000.
The new fields for those sports could be in new locations.
UMaine also plans to install a new artificial surface on Morse Field at Alfond Stadium as the football field is already two to three years beyond its hoped replacement date.
There has been speculation about possible construction of a new hockey facility to replace 45-year-old Alfond Arena, but it is expected the facility will instead undergo renovations to help UMaine keep pace with opponents.
Other facilities that were mentioned last fall as potential projects at UMaine including a new, self-contained outdoor track facility and a domed indoor practice building to replace the Mahaney Dome.
Greg Powell, the chairman of the board of the Harold Alfond Foundation and the CEO and President of Dexter Enterprises, said in announcing the gift that a new domed facility would be larger than the Mahaney Dome. He mentioned that other potential structures to cover fields during the winter would also be beneficial to UMaine athletics.
Ralph said the upgrades would be “simple, classy, functional” and long-lasting.
All of UMaine’s 17 varsity sports, along with athletic training and sports medicine staff, are eventually expected to benefit from the facility projects.
UMaine hopes the upgrades will help it attract student-athletes to the school and also bring high school championship events to campus.
Correction: An earlier version of this report misstated how much the University of Maine athletics department has raised to complement the Harold Alfond Foundation gift.