This weekend the Queen’s Board of Trustees made the important decision to approve the plan to revitalize Richardson Stadium. If everything goes as planned, construction will begin after the Gaels’ 2015 football season, and be completed in time to kick off the 2016 season in a facility better suited to the needs of 21st century athletes.
That said, football won’t be the only sport to benefit from the new facility: Richardson Stadium will be used by several sports, including soccer, lacrosse and field hockey, as well as clubs and community groups. When it is completed, it will be among the top facilities of its kind in Ontario, boasting artificial turf, a state-of-the-art scoreboard and bowl-style seating. It is truly an exciting time for sports at Queen’s, and for the Fields & Stadium Campaign, which has supported the construction of Tindall, Nixon and Miklas-McCarney fields.
What’s also exciting about this project is the fact that most of the $20.27 million cost will be funded through philanthropy. We are incredibly thankful to the lead donors who are supporting this project, including Stu and Kim Lang, and the Richardson Family Foundation, as well as all those who have contributed to the project in other ways. While Queen’s will be contributing roughly $3 million to the cost of the project, that money will mainly be used to fund necessary infrastructure improvements at the site.
At the moment, the plan is for temporary stands to be installed at the north end of the stadium, pending additional fundraising for a pavilion that will complete the bowl design. The revitalized stadium will be in the same location as the current stadium, and have a similar capacity of approximately 9000.
Without the revitalization project, the university would still have had to commit significant resources to repairing the existing structure that, at more than 40 years old, continues to deteriorate. Sections of the bleachers at the stadium failed an engineer’s inspection two summers ago and were replaced by temporary stands.
We need a stadium that provides the best possible experience for spectators and athletes alike – one that will also help us to promote health and wellness, provide a high quality for student and community use, and support the city’s sports tourism goals by helping to attract high-quality sporting events and tournaments. I am confident that we can get there.
Now that we have board approval, the university can begin engaging the Queen’s and Kingston communities in discussions around the stadium project. A website dedicated to the project will be launched in early January, and public meetings will be held to solicit feedback. I hope you will weigh in.
In 2016, we will be celebrating the university’s 175th anniversary. I can think of no more appropriate way to mark it than with a newly revitalized stadium fit to meet the needs of our student-athletes, and the greater Kingston community. With the approval of this project last weekend, and the generous support of our donors, we are now well on our way.