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Posted on Thu, May 16, 2013 : 6:16 p.m.

Michigan Board of Regents approve $16M field hockey, softball and baseball projects

By Pete Cunningham


The Michigan field hockey team, pictured above, will be getting a new facility following the 2013 season.

Joseph Tobianski | file photo

As expected, the Michigan Board of Regents approved two major athletic facilities projects at its meeting on Thursday. With the stamp of approval in hand, the athletic department can go forward with plans to break ground on construction of a $13.5 million field hockey facility and make $2.55 million in improvements to the Wilpon Baseball and Softball Complex.

“We are appreciative of the donor support for both of these projects,” said athletic director Dave Brandon in a release. “The two projects are part of our department’s strategic initiative to build a connected athletic campus that will unify all 31 teams. We are excited about the future for each of these three varsity teams."

The projects are part of the department's $250 million commitment to non-revenue sports, which Brandon laid out in May 2012.

The field hockey improvement will include a 13,000-square-foot building that will include locker rooms, offices, training areas, hydrotherapy pools and broadcast capabilities. The artificial playing surface at will also be replaced at Ocker Field. Construction will begin on the project following the 2013 fall season and is expected to be completed by the 2014 season.


The grass at Alumni Field, pictured above, and at Ray Fisher Stadium will be replaced with artificial turf.

Daniel Brenner | file photo

The grass playing surfaces at Alumni Field (softball) and Ray Fisher Stadium (baseball) will also be replaced with artificial turf. The project — which also will include various aesthetic improvements to the respective stadiums — is estimated to cost $2.55 million.

“The new playing surface will allow our student-athletes greater opportunities for outdoor practices at all times of the year,” Brandon said in a release.

The softball program also will be getting a new $5.3 million center next year, which the regents approved of in March. The softball and baseball projects are all expected to be completed before the 2014 spring season.

Pete Cunningham covers sports for He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @petcunningham.


Concerned Neighbor

Fri, May 17, 2013 : 2:55 a.m.

I am suggesting that everyone read Dr William Bennets book "Is College Worth It?" This is college sports! More brick and mortar for the out of control college spending.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 1:01 a.m.

Good to see the athletic department keeping its word.


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 10:45 p.m.

This is great for these sports--softball is truly nationally elite and baseball hopes to be. Field Hockey has had its moments. Begs a much bigger question, though: Have the Regents ever said 'NO" to David Brandon? Do they even discuss it? Has Mary Sue Coleman? Do any other student groups on campus get these types of financial resources dumped into them like that? The athletes get treated pretty well in exchange for their hard work, but what about groups on campus that have a bigger reach, be it political, social, or charitable?


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 1:01 p.m.

heartbreakM- I am not privy to any discussions that may occur between Dave Brandon, the regents and Mary Sue Coleman before an approval decision is released to the public. Is it possible that any objections to Brandon's plans are worked out behind the scenes which allows an ultimate approval? I would think that all parties involved with controlling Michigan athletics would like to demonstrate cohesion. I would also ask heartbreakM how many of Dave Brandon's plans for improving Michigan athletics were actually bad decisions.

Pete Cunningham

Thu, May 16, 2013 : 11:12 p.m.

A colleague and I were just discussing how approval seems like a mere formality with the athletic department. I don't know the numbers in terms of how often Dave Brandon has been told "no," or been asked to go back to the drawing board, but my guess is he's batting near 1.000. What you have to understand, though, is that the athletic department is independently funded (zero tax dollars, zero dollars garnered from tuition), so it's not having financial resources "dumped into" it, it is "dumping" its own financial resources into these projects.