When the Harold Alfond Foundation gifted the University of Maine $90 million for its athletic program, one of the biggest projects that was announced was a new basketball facility on the Orono campus.
The latest timeline from UMaine includes completing the basketball facility within the next five years.
“We want to start construction as soon as we can. We want to make sure we have a great place to show recruits,” said Seth Woodcock, the UMaine senior associate athletic director for development and capital planning. “We also want to provide a better experience for visiting teams.”
Woodcock has accepted a new role as the co-leader of the athletics portion of the Harold Alfond Foundations UMaine Systems Transforms initiative. He will be joined by his co-leader, Interim Athletic Director Samantha Hegmann-Wary, and UMaine professor Judith Rosenbaum in the leadership group, which will be charged with fundraising a $20 million gift to complement the $90 million gift supplied by the Harold Alfond Foundation.
“I’m very excited about the new roles,” said Woodcock, who has held his current position since 2012 and is looking forward to working with Hegmann-Wary, UMaine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy and other institutional leaders.
Along with the basketball facility, one of the initiatives’ other major projects includes an upgrade to the Alfond Arena, which was built in 1976.
The Alfond Arena is expected to have a new scoreboard, video boards and sound system by next season. UMaine has already outlined the improvements to the Shawn Walsh Center at Alfond Arena, which will include new locker rooms, coaches’ offices, a workout room, a video room, sports medicine area and a player’s lounge.
The current locker room situation for visiting teams — which requires players to be split into two locker rooms across the hall from each other — will also be rectified.
The master plan also includes a new entryway to the arena.
There have been some snags in the process of upgrading the facilities caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, a labor shortage and the rising costs of the material needed for the upgrades but Woodcock is confident that everything will eventually be completed.
“That has made it trickier,” he admitted of the challenges. “But we are doing something that has never been done before.”
Woodcock said UMaine has already received between $4 million and $5 million in commitments.
“We have 10 years to raise the $20 million and I expect us to not only realize our goal but to exceed it within the next five years,” he said.
He said the upgrades will be handled in the “most efficient and cost-effective way” to maximize the gifts.
For example, they are going to build a field for the women’s soccer team, which currently plays on Mahaney Diamond. Instead of putting out a bid for just the construction of the soccer field, UMaine may combine the soccer field bid with the addition of a new track.
The softball field and hitting pavilion are already under construction, and Woodcock said they should be ready for the start of the season in the spring.
UMaine is close to finalizing the winning bid for the upgrade to the field hockey facility and is about to put the soccer field project out to bid.
He is optimistic both will be completed by next fall.