The football, soccer and track and field head coaches are praising the planned transformation of athletic facilities of the north side of campus that would add a new home for soccer and track as well as a new on campus stadium for Wildcat football.
“It’s a true game-changer,” said head football coach Ken Collums. “We’ve been missing that piece, and the gravity of this is so high. This is huge.”
Dr. Phil Schubert, president of the university, announced a week ago that ACU received the largest financial gift in university history at $55 million. With the gift, ACU plans to use $15 million on building a new football stadium along with a new track and soccer stadium.
The new football stadium is projected to cost $30 million and seat 12,000 people. Collums and the football staff will look to use the new addition to campus for recruiting.
“With this, now we’ll be able to walk into a home and tell families, ‘This is where you’ll grow you as a man, train you as an athlete, and you’re going to be in a world-class facility,” Collums said. “This will be a change that will effect generations to come.”
With the addition of the new stadium, the football team will get to experience a true home-field advantage.
“We intend to be one of the top up-and-coming FCS teams in the country,” Collums said. “While we already enjoy tremendous strengths as a program, securing our own stadium will provide an extraordinary new surge of momentum.”
The new track and soccer stadium will provide both teams with state-of-the-art equipment and allow better seating for fans.
The track team will move from the historic Elmer Gray Stadium, where ACU established itself as the greatest track dynasty over the past century. Elmer Gray Stadium was home to many great Wildcat track and field stars, such as Bobby Morrow, Earl Young, Billy Olson, Tim Bright and Delloreen Ennis, as well as Wilma Rudolph, Michael Johnson and others.
Despite that history, track and field head coach Keith Barnier said that he knows his team will have new records and memories in the new stadium.
“There are a lot of memories from that field, but we’ll have to make new ones, and I know that we will,” said Keith Barnier, track and field head coach. “I think it will enhance the experience for our student athletes and help attract others. It’s really competitive out there, and anything we can do to make ACU look even better than it already does is just going to enhance everything.”
Wildcat track and field and cross-country teams have won 56 NCAA national championships, 124 league championships, produced 37 Olympians, set 21 world records and won four Olympic gold medals. In 1999, Texas Monthly magazine named the ACU track and field program the Texas Sports Dynasty of the Century.
ACU soccer was introduced in 2007, and since then Wildcat Pitch field has helped the team establish an impressive .649 winning percentage. Earlier this week, soccer head coach Casey Wilson announced the addition of eight new players for the 2014 roster. Wilson and his staff look for even more success at their new home.
“We’re excited about the opportunity that this presents and as potential recruits start to look at ACU, it’ll help them get a better idea of who we are and what we’re about,” Wilson said. “We really enjoyed playing on that field, but we look forward to this new one and I think it’ll provide more of an athletic-event atmosphere to the fans. It’ll be great having all the new facilities intertwined and create that unique environment.”
Both stadiums will begin construction in the fall of 2014, university officials say, though some additional fundraising. The ACU football team’s new home, Anthony Field, is expected to have its first home game in the 2016 season.