Field of dreams
Western will ring in the new millennium with the completion of the largest sporting facility the university has ever seen and it won't lighten our wallet at all.
A $10 million stadium with a 12,500 seat capacity, artificial turf, state-of-the-art lighting, one of the best outdoor, international standard, eight-lane tracks in southwestern Ontario, improved change rooms and press box will not cost Western students or the university a penny.
With all money for construction coming from private investors and the 2001 Canada Games budget, students and the London community will reap the rewards without any cost inflicted on them.
Once the summer of 2000 rolls around, the facility will be ready for use and after the wrecking ball takes care of what will then be a 70-year-old J.W. Little Stadium, a huge parcel of land will be available for use. If the university had to go out and buy a chunk of land this big it would cost them upwards of $3 million, so the new stadium is in effect saving Western money.
This is not the only benefit, however. The area the stadium is being built on, land behind the Huron Flats parking lot, is on the edge of flood lands and therefore is not suitable for many other structures.
The benefit to the city of London also can not be ignored. The old stadium made it difficult to hold many other events besides football games because its grass surface. The Astroturf in the new facility will not get worn down and succumb to climate conditions like the old one, so it will have countless uses for groups around London in a wide variety of sporting events.
This can be compared to when the University of Waterloo built its University Stadium, which is now used by both Wilfred Laurier University and Waterloo, as well as for city-wide events. This stadium has Astroturf as well and without this feature, it would not be capable of serving these needs.
The characteristics of the planned stadium at Western will be easier to maintain than J.W. Little, will have the option of nightly sporting events and could become a source of ongoing revenue for the university by renting it out to London sporting groups.
The effect on the athletic program at Western can not be ignored either. The football team will be able to both practice and play on the Astroturf and unlike the old stadium, other Varsity teams such as soccer and rugby will be able to use it for their games without worry of wrecking a grass field. Its multiple uses will benefit athletics across the board at Western.
This top facility will catapult Western into the next century giving athletes at the university great facilities for training and competing which will benefit students for decades to come.