UAlbany President George M. Philip, along with Vice President and Athletic Director Lee McElroy, was joined by public officials, coaches, student-athletes, alumni and supporters as the University broke ground on the construction of its new multi-sport complex, on Tuesday morning. Also announced was a $1 million challenge as part of a $2 million campaign to name the new field for head football coach Bob Ford, as presented by Dan Nolan ’73, a member of UAlbany’s President’s Club of outstanding contributors.

“It’s a bit surreal,” said Ford, who will be entering his 40th varsity season at the helm of the UAlbany program this fall. “I think it speaks to the longevity, commitment and effort over an extended period of time. When something gets named after you, it means that someone thought you’ve given something, and been dedicated to a high degree. And I hope that’s what I have done.”

The project is phase I of a three-phase plan, replacing UAlbany’s current football venue with a state-of-the-art athletic and recreational complex. The complex, which is east of the SEFCU Arena, on the site of the current soccer field, is scheduled to open in the fall of 2013. Upon completion, the complex will be home to the Great Danes’ NCAA Division I football and men’s and women’s soccer teams. Phase II includes the creation of a synthetic turf field designed for year-round recreational, intramural and club sport activities by the student body. This field will be located east of the campus tennis courts and south of Dutch Quad, and is expected to be completed in the fall of 2012. Phase III will include repairs and upgrades to the track and field facilities, which is currently housed in the existing football venue. Once completed, scheduled for early winter 2013, the area will be used strictly for track and field activities.

“We are thrilled to be implementing this very long-awaited plan,” said President Philip. “Already, this project is heightening team spirit as we provide Great Dane athletes and our students with the facilities of which they are so deserving.”

The announcement included project contractors Whiting-Turner Contracting Company, principle architect and designer, Heery International Inc., and site engineer, Clough Harbor & associates.

The preceding information was provided by Brianna LaBrecque, Interim Director of Athletics Communications for UAlbany.

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