Big changes underway at Merrill Field
Fans of Alfred University athletics will barely recognize Merrill Field when they settle in for their first home football or soccer game this fall.
The 11-year-old Astroturf will be gone, replaced by the more modern, grass-like FieldTurf. A new grandstand that mixes traditional bleachers and box-style seating will take the place of the 26-year-old home-side bleachers. And the wooden two-deck press box will have given way to a new single-story facility.
Merrill Field is home to the football, men’s and women’s soccer, and men’s and women’s lacrosse teams; several intramural teams use the facility as well. Dr. Charles Edmondson, AU president, said the $1.2 million project, scheduled for completion by the end of August, will enhance the University’s athletic facilities and be a source of pride for student-athletes, coaches, alumni and fans.
“With the improvements to the grandstand and press box and the installation of the new field surface, Merrill Field will be one of the finest outdoor facilities in Division III,” Edmondson commented. “This project reflects our commitment to maintaining the University’s long-standing tradition of excellence in collegiate athletics.
Demolition of the home side bleachers, originally installed at Merrill Field in 1984, began earlier this month and was completed two weeks ago. The new grandstand, with a seating capacity of 1,645, will be installed in August and will include 210 box-style seats as well as aluminum bleacher seating for 1,435 spectators. Combined with the existing bleachers on the visitors’ side and behind the south endzone, Merrill Field will have a total seating capacity of nearly 3,000.
“This will really help with our recruiting efforts,” added James Moretti, athletic director. “Not just for student-athletes who use the field, but with recruiting in general, because it improves the overall appearance of our (sports and recreation) facilities.”
“The facelift being applied to Merrill Field is a testament to the University’s commitment to offering both athletes and intramural program participants up–to-date facilities helping them to excel in their given sports,” added Mark Shardlow, AU Executive Director of Annual Giving and Alumni Relations. “The new field surface, stands and press box will be a source of great pride for all Alfred alumni as they continue their Alfred Experience.”
The new FieldTurf playing surface, emblazoned with the AU Saxons athletic logo, will replace the Astroturf system that was installed in the summer of 1999. Completion of that portion of the project is set for mid-August.
“The new turf brings us into the mainstream with other colleges. Our student-athletes will really enjoy playing on it,” Moretti said, adding that he expects spectators will appreciate the improvements. “This will enhance the atmosphere at Merrill Field and add to the fan experience.”
The project also involves replacement of the two-story press box, located at the top of the home side bleachers. The new single-story press box will measure 12-by-48 feet and will include a viewing area for the press and game day crew along with separate rooms for home and visiting coaches. The pre-manufactured press box will be installed in late August. Renovations to the restroom facilities, located beneath the grandstand, will also be completed by the beginning of the upcoming school year.
LeChase Construction of Rochester is completing the bleacher/press box replacement project; the contractor for the field turf installation is Clark Companies of Delhi, NY. Both projects will be completed in time for the football team’s 2010 home opener Sept. 4 against Widener. The men’s soccer team will open play at the new field on Sept. 1 against Hobart. The women’s soccer team plays its first game on the new field Sept. 11 against Elmira. The men’s and women’s lacrosse teams, which compete in the spring, also use Merrill Field.