Posted by Joey Mullins on 2010-08-24

Samford University held a groundbreaking ceremony Aug. 24 for a new track/soccer stadium to be finished in time to host the Southern Conference Track and Field Championship in April of 2011. The complex is located across Lakeshore Drive from the university’s main campus.

In addition to the varsity athletics events hosted in the stadium, the facility also will be used for  fitness and activities classes in the university’s core curriculum.

“This project will benefit all Samford students,” said Samford President Andrew Westmoreland. “We will have a state-of-the-art facility for athletics programs that also will benefit students in our fitness and physical education classes. And, the new complex will allow us to use previous facilities to benefit our growing intramurals and campus recreation programs.”

In the first two years, the new facility will host two Southern Conference championship events: the 2011 SoCon Track and Field Championships and the 2012 SoCon Women’s Soccer Championship. 

“I think that our new facility has the potential of being one of the top facilities in the Southeast as well as being on par with many of the best in the nation,” Samford head soccer coach Todd Yelton said. “We know that it is going to be a first-class place, and it will be capable of hosting a number of SoCon championships and NCAA Regionals in the future. We’re really excited about the university making it possible for us to build this.” 

The complex will include a nine-lane track, with each lane measuring 48-inches wide. A regulation soccer field will go inside the track. The seating capacity for the stadium will be 1,200, including 360 chair back seats. The new complex also includes a 5,000-square-foot support building housing a concession stand, ticket booth, public restrooms, equipment storage and locker rooms. A 300-square-foot press box will also be included in the facility.   

“The track facility will be huge for our team and our program,” Samford head track and field coach Rod Tiffin said. “I really want to thank Dr. Westmoreland and (Vice President for Business Affairs) Buck Brock for all their support in this project.  Since coming here two years ago I could not have asked for more support from the administration, and I know without the tireless work of (Director of Athletics) Bob Roller this would not have happened. This is the last piece of the puzzle for us. We really feel that this can take our program to the next level ,and we can’t wait to get on it and start practicing and competing.” 

The track project became necessary when renovations to Seibert Stadium eliminated the university’s previous track. The new soccer field will replace Bulldog Field, which the soccer team has used since the program began in 1997. The move will make Bulldog Field available for year-round use by Samford’s intramural programs.  

A second phase of the construction project will enhance the campus recreation complex where the current soccer field is located, according to Sarah C. Latham, Samford’s vice president for operations and planning. Those plans are being finalized and should be announced soon. 

Gary C. Wyatt General Contractor LLC of Birmingham is contractor for the stadium. 

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. The Wall Street Journal ranks Samford 1st nationally for student engagement and U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 66th in the nation for best undergraduate teaching and 104th nationally for best value. Samford enrolls 5,683 students from 47 states and 19 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference, and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.