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February 17, 2021

UMaine launches $110M plan to expand, upgrade Orono sports facilities

Courtesy / University of Maine System A rendering shows the planned UMaine Soccer Stadium, part of a $110 million, 10-year expansion of athletic facilities on the Orono campus.
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The University of Maine on Wednesday unveiled plans for a $110 million overhaul of its athletic facilities, including a new stadium for women’s soccer, a new 100,000-square-foot indoor track arena, upgrades to existing facilities and more.

The 10-year project, largely funded by a $90 million gift last fall from the Harold Alfond Foundation, will likely begin this summer, the University of Maine System said in a news release. Work on new playing fields at the Orono campus will follow in 2022.

The goal is to provide modern facilities for all 17 varsity programs at Maine’s only NCAA Division I athletic program, and to improve the overall UMaine student experience, the university said.

“Harold Alfond believed in the University of Maine, its students, and the impact of athletics,” said Greg Powell, chair of the Harold Alfond Foundation, in the news release. “He would be very supportive of the direction and current leadership at the university. We are proud to continue his legacy of giving to projects that benefit Maine’s universities and its people.”  

The foundation contributed a total of $240 million to the UMaine System as part of an October 2020 pledge of $500 million to support Maine schools, research organizations and nonprofits. The UMaine System grant was the largest ever to a public institute of higher education in New England and the eighth-largest to a U.S. public institute.

To match the $90 million earmarked for UMaine athletics, the university is working to raise an additional $20 million.

“We are going to build outstanding athletic facilities to support our Black Bear athletes and students and youth from all over the state,” said UMaine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy. “Wins for our athletic program and all the work we do to advance the initiatives supported by the Harold Alfond Foundation will include inclusion and community building.

“We are Maine’s public universities and everyone will be welcome to engage in our programs, use our facilities, and contribute to our success.”

UMaine worked with a Minnesota-based firm, JLG Architects, to develop the master plan, which will also support the university’s intramural sports programs and even non-athletic activities, such as music and arts events.

Athletic Director Ken Ralph and professor Judith Rosenbaum-Andre will also lead plans to use the facilities for high school sports, underserved athletes and community recreation, the release said.

“We are also using this opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to equity and to show our dedication to making Orono the go-to destination for sports in Maine for athletes of all ages,” Ralph said. “Our students, our fans, and the local community have waited a long time for these improvements, and we are excited to get started."

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