Oakland Gets Boost in Facilities
The Golden Grizzlies are adding a track and tennis courts to campus.
March 28, 2013
Last month the Oakland University Board of Trustees approved $65 million worth of future innovations and projects around campus. Among the items approved were new student housing facilities, a four story parking garage, and additional maintenance facilities.
Part of the funds, $7.8 million, were allotted for renovations and updates to the main campus's recreation and athletic facilities. The plans call for a tennis complex featuring 8 courts, a track and field complex, and a recreational "super" field space featuring multiple sport and activity options. Located along Ravine and Meadowbrook Drives, the outdoor facilities will be near the University's student apartment complexes and dormitories, and, accommodate Oakland's student life and wellness initiatives. All playing areas will feature synthetic turf, spectator and participant seating, and overhead lighting.
"We see this as a multi-purposed and multi-dimensional facility where you can have many activities operating concurrently," said Oakland Director of Athletics, Tracy Huth. "This will be a place for students to congregate for a variety of activities."
Both the athletic department and campus recreation will use the grounds, allowing for intercollegiate, club, and intramural athletic practice and competition. Individual wellness activities will also be accommodated.
"We've been planning this for quite a while," Huth said. "It is really a combined effort with Student Affairs and the Department of Campus Recreation. Student input was very important in the feasibility and planning of the facilities. Ultimately, it was the support of the Board of Trustees and University leadership that brought this project to fruition."
Additional athletic facility improvements will begin this spring. A new press trailer will be added for outdoor sport facilities and for special events. In addition, the baseball field will see improvements to spectator access, a new scoreboard, spectator seating, and restroom facility. Spectator access will be inclusive of an improved walkway from the parking structure and a concrete concourse from the home team dugout (on the first base side) and run the full length of the left field side of the facility. The scope of the project includes substantial improvements to drainage, electrical access, landscaping and a retaining wall along the spectator hill.
These renovations will be completed in time for Oakland to host The Summit League baseball tournament, May 23-25. It will be the first time in school history that the Golden Grizzlies will have hosted the championship.
"We take a lot of pride in what we host, Huth said. "We want to set the standard, not just in The Summit League, but whenever we host anything. We want the fans, the staff, and most importantly the student athletes to have the best experience they've ever had."
The softball field will also receive a new scoreboard, spectator seating, and restroom facility. Similar to the baseball facility, a concrete concourse will reach from the first base dugout, run behind home plate, and then continue down the full length of the left field side of the facility. Additional improvements to drainage and electrical access are also planned.
"It is tremendous for us to finally be able to offer this, Huth said. "Our young history is advantageous because there is an excitement for our school to continue to grow, and our alumni to see that growth and be proud of their school. These facilities are another step in the right direction."
The golf program also recently received a facelift to their facilities, following a generous donation from Stephan Sharf. A longtime friend of Oakland, Sharf gave the school $21 million last February, the largest donation ever received by OU from a single donor. He donated an additional $4 million for the creation of a new clubhouse, which was completed in June 2012. The Sharf clubhouse includes many amenities that make it ideal for hosting golf events, including intercollegiate tournaments.
"Due to the generosity of Mr. Sharf and other donors, this facility is going to make all the difference in the world," Huth said. "For (men's and women's head golf) Coach Cunningham and his student-athletes, this is huge. I know they have already won several tournaments in the fall, but the future for them is very bright."
With a gift from another long time supporter of Oakland Athletics and the support of the University administration, the old golf pro shop was gutted to create new locker rooms, staff offices and a team lounge. Both the men's and women's spaces include custom wood lockers, restrooms and showers.
"I truly believe these improvements will assist us in meeting the Mission of Oakland Athletics to support our student-athletes as they strive for excellence academically, athletically and socially, Huth said. "We welcome everyone to come see these facilities. The presence of faculty, staff and community members is a welcome site for the Golden Grizzlies."