In artists’ sketches, arches engraved with the names of former Yale soccer and lacrosse players beckon fans to the new Reese Stadium. While not yet a reality, the 10-month renovation of Reese Stadium began Monday.
Phase I of the Reese Stadium construction, completed in 2005, outfitted the joint soccer and lacrosse field with an artificial FieldTurf field and provided outdoor lighting, allowing for more consistent practice and game conditions year-round and for night games.
Phase II will add a stadium structure in the place of the existing bleachers, complete with expanded bleachers, four locker rooms, an improved press box, VIP seating areas and a plaza.
“It’s going to be one of the top facilities on the East coast and in the country,” men’s lacrosse coach Andy Shay said. “We’re excited about what it will do for the program.”
The renovations were realized with funds from the Reese Stadium “Winning Goal” campaign, a fundraising effort led by the Yale Soccer and Lacrosse Associations, alumni who support Yale athletic programs and athletes, as well as the Yale Office of Development and Athletics staff.
Jon Reese ’90 and Jason Reese ’87; the Kempner family, which includes James Kempner ’79 and Cynthia Kempner ’79, former Yale athletes and major donors to Yale sports teams; and a matched anonymous soccer gift provided the funds for the project, according to a Nov. 2 Yale Athletics press release.
“[Director of Athletics] Tom Beckett, along with the architects, have designed a truly incredible place. My feeling is that it will be one of the greatest venues in the country,” Jon Reese said. “For fans, for opposing teams and certainly for our student-athletes, it will be an incredible place to be a spectator and to play in.”
Assistant Athletic Director for Development and Community Outreach Alison Cole said that because of the economic recession, the fundraisers used creative ways to attract donors. Instead of focusing on individual donors, the Office of Development and Athletics Department, as well as the Soccer and Lacrosse Associations, built several coalitions that made group gifts in the name of the soccer and lacrosse teams.
“Its been an unbelievable team effort between the University and soccer and lacrosse associations to raise the money to make this facility a reality,” Cole said.
While coaches were included in parts of the design process, members of the Athletics Department and Office of Development oversaw the majority of the planning. Centerbrook Architects, the group that recently completed Kroon Hall, designed the facility, and Paragon Construction is leading the construction.
“It is a testament to Tom Beckett and to Yale’s alums that we continue to upgrade our facilities so our students feel like they’re getting a world class experience when they play for Yale,” Cole said.
The new facility will be a beacon to new recruits, Shay said. Because the facility is only shared between four teams — many fewer than most collegiate stadiums, Shay said — the renovated stadium will be a testament to Yale’s dedication to both programs that use it.
“I think we’re certainly going to have one of the better facilities in the league,” men’s soccer coach Brian Tompkins said.
Dartmouth and Princeton upgraded their respective soccer facilities in recent years as well, and Yale will soon join those two institutions in having the best of the Ivy stadiums, Tompkins said.
“It’s good for the league when any school improves their facilities because it raises the prestige of the league as a whole,” he said.
While this year’s seniors just missed playing in the new facility, the players who will get to utilize the new facility said they are looking forward to the amenities. Players of most outdoor varsity teams currently share use of the multi-purpose Smilow Field Center facility, which includes locker rooms and an athletic training room. Men’s soccer player Chris Dennen ’12 said his team is looking forward to having spaces of its own in the new soccer and lacrosse complex.
“It should be great,” Dennen said of the planned facility. “From what I’ve seen of the plans, it looks awesome. The whole team is excited — the meeting rooms will be key because we won’t have to go back to the field house during halftime.”
The interior of the space will provide space that women’s soccer head coach Rudy Meredith said can be used for a variety of team functions such as pre- and post-game talks, halftime breaks and video reviewing.
“Its exciting for us to have a new stadium like that for the kids who are here,” he said. “Its an exciting step in the right direction for us.”
The construction will not affect either the women’s or men’s soccer seasons, which concluded Nov. 7th and 13th, respectively. Construction will pose a greater challenge to the lacrosse program, which will use the field in the spring during construction. One consequence of the construction work is that lacrosse fans will be relegated to temporary bleachers, as the existing stands will have already been removed by the beginning of the spring season, Shay said.
But coaches and players interviewed agreed that the inconvenience is minimal compared to the payoff for the programs. With the payoffs of Phase I already proving their worth, the four coaches and players interviewed said they are excited about Phase II.
“Phase I is definitely a success,” Dennen said. “Hopefully Phase II will make it even better.”