by Annie Kelby
The University of Northwestern – Saint Paul is currently planning to add new athletic facilities. Matt Hill, vice president of athletics and student life, has high hopes for the facilities and the opportunities they will provide Northwestern students. Hill believes the new facilities will help the university appeal to both current and prospective students.
“Becoming a university did not directly impact the decision to upgrade the facilities,” said Hill. “However, I think people that attend a university expect quality facilities in all areas of the student experience, and currently our outdoor facilities fall short.”
These facilities will include a turf and lighted baseball, softball, soccer/football/lacrosse fields as well as six lighted tennis courts.
“There will also be a new 1,400 seat stadium with locker rooms, concessions, storage and restrooms in it,” said Hill. “Phase Two is a gym addition to the Ericksen Center.”
“Short and long term benefits [include] playing surfaces that can be used 24/7 because of the design (lighting and turf fields); the ability to host more camps, clinics and local outreach opportunities; the ability to have an expanded intramural program on campus as opposed to having to go off campus; reduce missed class time for student athletes because of the lights and [we’ll] have open green space for all the students to enjoy year round. We will be breaking ground on Phase One (outdoor facilities) this coming May and be playing on it in August (2014).”
Not only will the new facilities make current athletes happy, but the school will be able to have more athletes.
“[The new facilities] will also allow us to expand the number of students that compete by adding JV teams and the possibility of adding sports teams [like lacrosse, men’s volleyball and Nordic skiing],” said Hill. “My vision is also that we use it for God’s glory—to offer opportunities to share Christ’s love to children through camps that may never otherwise hear the gospel.”
According to Hill, many sports teams will be affected by these updates.
“The main sports affected by this [change] are soccer, football, softball, baseball and tennis. However, intramurals will be greatly affected too, as well as the potential addition of lacrosse,” said Hill.
Hill says this change should be welcomed by everyone. “This provides a great place for students to cheer for their university, to participate in intramurals and to have a place for other types of recreation,” said Hill. “The Lord expects us to take care of our physical bodies, and the ability to use these facilities to do that would be exciting.”
Hill believes that the new facilities signify the school rounding out its potential.
“As an alum, and now as an employee for 14-plus years, I have seen many great changes to this institution,” said Hill. “I see excellence in the classroom with our top-notch faculty, and I see a commitment to an excellent student experience with the addition of the Billy Graham Community Commons. This, to me, is the last large upgrade to the campus to bring all venues up to the excellence we want to achieve. It has been identified as a need for over 14 years and I am excited we will be moving forward with it.”