The future lies west

More turf fields, new rink part of anticipated development

Home of the Queen’s football program, Richardson Stadium will undergo a complete refurbishing as part of a Queen’s Athletics Initiative once funding is in check.
Home of the Queen’s football program, Richardson Stadium will undergo a complete refurbishing as part of a Queen’s Athletics Initiative once funding is in check.
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The Gaels women's and men's hockey teams have seen a sharp drop in fan attendance since the program's switch to the Memorial Centre, North of Princess St.
The Gaels women's and men's hockey teams have seen a sharp drop in fan attendance since the program's switch to the Memorial Centre, North of Princess St.
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West Campus will be home to a new athletic complex in time. With space constraints on main campus, Queen’s Athletics will be looking for funding to develop the area into a hotspot for multiple varsity sports teams.

As it stands, two more turf fields and a hockey rink are on the table for the pending athletics complex project. Other features will depend on the scope of funding and priorities at the time of building.

The building time and location will coincide with a growth in West Campus population. Associate director of Athletics, Business Development and Facilities, Jeff Downie said future plans to develop West Campus are based more on necessities than choice.

“If university planners could’ve seen how big Queen’s University would get at some point, maybe there would be field space to develop,” Downie said. “It’s not a choice now; it’s about how best to develop west campus to make it a hub.”

Tindall, Nixon and West Campus turf fields cost the University $10 million, primarily generated by alumni donations over the past five years.

Athletics Director Leslie Dal Cin says the final West Campus product will be a better home base for several varsity teams, including soccer, hockey and football.

“The fourth [field] is a stadium field; the fifth will be more soccer-oriented.” she said. “Ideally all our participants — students, varsity teams, varsity clubs, intramurals — will have quality venues by the end.”

Richardson Stadium will eventually have its natural grass replaced by artificial turf — the same process used to build Tindall Field and Nixon Field.

“[Richardson]’s been a grand old dame — it’s one of the only grass fields we have left,” Dal Cin said. “It’s been a great, great home base, but its life span is coming to an end because the needs are changing.”

These entail less weekly maintenance, increased usage and a multi-purpose capacity. Tindall’s grass became turf in 2009 and the benefits were recorded.

Dal Cin said the switch to turf resulted in an increase in total hours of usage. This increase is an estimated 500 per cent difference on a yearly basis.

Queen’s football’s home field once stood in place of Mac-Corry, but moved westward in 1971. A revamped Richardson Stadium would be a staple in the West Campus project.

“The venue that was set up in 1971 isn’t going to support the needs we have in 2012,” Dal Cin said. “The same as the PEC — it didn’t support the needs of our student body in 2010.”

A hockey rink is also part of the grand picture, which has lacked since Jock Harty Arena was torn from its roots at the corner of Division and Union Streets in 2007.

The men’s and women’s hockey teams and the figure skating teams have been training and competing at the Memorial Centre, north of Princess St. since.

“The rink was supposed to be a component of the full vision of the Queen’s Centre and then we hit the time when our philanthropic giving was not strong,” Dal Cin said. “We had to make certain decisions and one of those was that the rink would have to move out to West Campus.”

Dal Cin said the project’s timeline is driven by the ability to fundraise the project.

“We build as we fund. Like all other projects and the campaign, they get initiated by the donations that trigger the activity.”

The hockey teams have experienced a substantial drop in fan attendance since the move. The proposed West Campus athletics complex would mean students would still have to travel off main campus territory to enjoy the action.

Dal Cin sees the project will likely intersect with a West Campus population growth, while bridging a gap between the two campuses.

“We have a reality that we have a West Campus population as well. It would link our two campuses in a way that the issue just becomes transportation.”

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