April 26, 2023Print | PDF
After celebrating the rejuvenation of Alumni Field at its official opening April 20, the Wilfrid Laurier University community looks forward to the next steps in the exciting multi-phase Seagram Drive Athletics and Recreation redevelopment project. The university’s Board of Governors recently approved Phase 1 of the project, which sets in motion the first of many proposed improvements to enhance athletic excellence and community engagement with top-level facilities – and launch Laurier's Waterloo campus into a new era of health and wellness.
The university started by removing the aging bleachers from the 66-year-old University Stadium and will now construct a new field and turf surface, along with a new scoreboard and lighting, after the fall 2023 playing season ends.
“Our students deserve more,” says Kate McCrae Bristol, acting director of Athletics and Recreation. “We have outgrown our facilities and are looking to build a space to serve our expanding intramural and recreational programming and our varsity athletic programs as they compete at the national stage. With this first project phase, we’re gaining momentum toward our bold vision for the future of Laurier athletics and recreation.”
Subject to further Board of Governors approval and donor support, the project will unfold in phases, including prioritizing a winterized dome infrastructure, reconstructed grandstands, and ultimately a new facility housing a double gymnasium, high-performance athletic training area and multi-use student spaces.
In addition to enhancing health and wellness services and supports for Laurier students, the redevelopment will boost Laurier’s student and student-athlete recruitment efforts. In its future phases, the proposed facility will increase community engagement and revenue generation for the university through four-season field use and the envisioned high-performance athletic training program.
The potential high-performance program will also provide students with community engagement and skill-building through internships and placements working with elite-level regional teams, up-and-coming local athletes, and professional and national-level athletes from across the country who are based in Kitchener-Waterloo.
Just as they will benefit from the project, students are key partners in its success. Undergraduate students and graduate students are collectively contributing $2.5 million to the first phase.
“The Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union and the Graduate Students’ Association understand that students do not have sufficient access to the facilities necessary for popular recreational and intramural programming so critical to a healthy lifestyle,” says Shane Symington, Students’ Union president and CEO. “Our contribution to the Seagram Drive project continues our legacy of supporting campus projects that are critical to ensuring the best possible student experience at Laurier. We encourage Laurier alumni and other donors to join us in creating a world-class facility in the Region of Waterloo.”
The proposed new facility, subject to governance approval and fundraising support from donors for future phases, will feature student lounge areas, bookable student spaces, a food outlet, gymnasium and training spaces, and a new high-performance centre that will be available to all students and set Laurier varsity teams up to compete for more championships.
The full redevelopment vision would mean housing more than 3,000 fans in the new grandstands, four-season access to 76,000 s.f. of recreation space and over 1,500 hours of field time to athletes.
In the future, the high-performance centre can provide students with community engagement and skill-building through internship and placement programs working with elite-level regional teams, up-and-coming local athletes, and professional and national-level athletes from across the country who are based in Kitchener-Waterloo.
“Expanding our conceptualization of how campus space can be used is an important aspect of this project,” says Jeremy Wagner, Graduate Students’ Association president and CEO. “We believe the unique needs of graduate students, for example child-minding support and needs, will be strongly considered as our university partners take a student-centred approach to space design and program planning.”
Over the next few months, the university will engage with donors, community members, students, faculty and staff to discuss future project phases that will meet student needs and create lasting memories for the next generation of Golden Hawks.