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The revitalization of Richardson Stadium

The revitalization of Richardson Stadium

A generous $10 million pledge from two alumni and a $5 million one from the Richardson Foundation has given the university’s stadium renewal plans a major boost.

[Stu Lang, Sc’74]Alumnus Stu Lang was a star offensive player with Queen's teams in the early 1970s before going on to a stellar pro career with the CFL's Edmonton Eskimos.

The university’s plans for a much-needed ­revitalization of its West Campus stadium ­facility have taken a giant step forward thanks to the selfless generosity of two alumni and the Richardson family itself.

Stu Lang, Sc’74, and his wife Kim (Burnett), Artsci’75, of Cambridge, ON, have pledged a lead gift of $10 million towards the campaign to refurbish the 43-year-old stadium.

“Mr. and Mrs. Lang have shown tremendous ­vision and leadership in their desire to help Queen’s revitalize Richardson Stadium and we are very grateful for their generosity,” says Daniel Woolf, Principal and Vice-Chancellor. “A modern stadium will promote the excellence of our teams and better meet the needs of our student-athletes. This exceptional gift gets us closer to making this dream a reality.”

Stu Lang, a star receiver with the Tricolour from 1970-74 and a member of the Queen’s Football Hall of Fame, remains involved with intercollegiate football, albeit not with Queen’s. He does so in his role as coach of the University of Guelph Gryphons, a ­rival of Queen’s in Ontario University Athletics (OUA) play. That aspect of the funding announcement surprised many people.

While Lang underscores that he’s “100 per cent committed” to his coaching job at Guelph, he allows that he will always have special affection for Queen’s.

“It’s a privilege to make this pledge to our alma mater,” he says. “Kim and I met during our student days at the university, and my experience as a ­student-athlete at Queen’s prepared me well for the rest of my life."

A big part of my personal development occurred outside the classroom as athletics, more than anything, shaped my life, and I’m happy to support Queen’s through my contribution to the Richardson Stadium building project.
- Stu Lang

After graduating from Queen’s in 1974 with a degree in chemical engineering, Stu Lang went
on to a successful eight-season career with the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League, winning five Grey Cup championship rings.

Upon hanging up his cleats, Stu embarked on a successful 25-year career with his family’s packaged-goods labeling businesses, CCL Label Canada/Mexico and CCL Label International. He retired in 2006, and for the past five seasons has “kept busy” in his role as a football coach – the last four as head coach – of the Guelph Gryphons.

In fact, it was an OUA playoff game last fall when the Gryphons travelled to Kingston to play the Gaels – a match Queen’s won by a 34-17 score – that proved to be a catalyst for the Langs’ decision.

Richardson Stadium was showing its age on that cool November day, and earlier that year an engineer’s report had declared sections of the spectator seating to be unsafe. As a result, the ­university erected temporary seating for the season, which ­included two Homecoming games and the OUA semi-final. “I was saddened to see the ­stadium’s condition,” Stu recalls. “Kim and I had been thinking about supporting the stadium renewal project, and we decided the time was right to do so.”

Stu Lang catching a passStu Lang (#22) was a sure-handed receiver during his playing days at Queen's. (Queen's Archives photo)

With the Langs and Richardson pledges in place, the university has launched a spirited push to raise the remainder of the $25 million that’s needed to rebuild and modernize the 43-year-old facility.

Vicki (Gilliatt) Hand, Arts/PHE’73, and her ­husband Paul Hand, Arts’69, MBA’73, of Toronto, are co-chairs of the Initiative Campaign Fields and Stadium Campaign Cabinet. They hope the Langs’ pledge will inspire others to support the modernization of George Richardson Memorial Stadium.

“Stu’s commitment to sport and student-athletes is well known, and we’re proud to have his name and reputation associated with this project,” says Vicki Hand. “The Langs’ extraordinary gift to Queen’s makes it possible for the university and our volunteer fundraising group to move ahead ­immediately to raise the balance of funds required to build a new stadium. “

In fact, the Langs’ pledge has already motivated further support. In April, the Richardson Foundation, the giving arm of James Richardson & Sons, Limited, announced a contribution of $5 million to the stadium that bears the family’s name.

“My great-great grandfather established a grain merchandising business in Kingston in 1857, and he also instilled in his family the importance of giving back to the community,” says Hartley Richardson, President and Chief Executive Officer of James Richardson & Sons, Limited, and a Trustee of the Richardson Foundation. “Queen’s University has been part of this philosophy throughout ­several generations, and this latest gift allows us the privilege of supporting an incredibly exciting initiative for the university while continuing to ­honour our great-uncle’s memory.”

The revitalization of George Richardson ­Memorial Richardson Stadium, which has been earmarked as a priority within Queen’s $500-million Initiative Campaign, is the next key step in the university’s efforts to enhance its athletics and recreation facilities as a means of promoting the health and wellness of all students. Other recent projects include the Athletics and Recreation ­Centre, two new practice fields on west campus, Tindall Field, and Nixon Field.

A modern George Richardson Memorial ­Stadium would also be of benefit to the broader Kingston community, and the university is committed to consulting with neighbouring residents, city officials, and the local sports community as specific plans for the stadium are developed.

“I’m very much looking forward to coming to the new George Richardson Memorial Stadium,” says Stu Lang. “I’d love it if the Guelph Gryphons are the Gaels’ opposition on the day the new ­stadium opens. I still have a soft spot in my heart for Queen’s and many Queen’s friends, but it’s still kind of fun to beat my alma mater on the football field.”

Learn more about the Langs’ extraordinary gift to Queen’s and to learn how you can support the fundraising ­campaign to revitalize George Richardson Memorial Stadium.

George Richardson Memorial Stadium at a glance

 [photo of members of the Richardson family at the Richardson stadium]

The original Richardson Stadium, constructed on the main campus in 1920 on what is now Tindall Field, was a gift of James Armstrong Richardson, BA 1906, LLD 1929, Queen’s Chancellor, 1929-39.

The facility was named after James Richardson’s brother, George Taylor Richardson, BSc 1909, a prominent student athlete at Queen’s who was killed in action in France during WWI.

The Richardson Foundation has pledged $5 million to the stadium revitalization project. Pictured at right: (l-r) George Richardson, former Chancellor Agnes (Richardson) Benidickson, BA’41, LLD’79, and Kathleen and James J. Richardson, BA’43, at the 1971 opening of the “new” George Richardson Memorial Stadium at West Campus.

[Queen's Alumni Review 2014-2 cover]