Over the past few years, the move towards Division I football has been apparent across Mercer’s campus and the Georgia community. The long process of forming a team and constructing the stadium was begun years ago with the official groundbreaking on November 11, 2011.
Since then, work has steadily picked up, changing the entire dynamic of the University’s traffic flow, skyline and intramural activities. The integrity of Mercer’s athletics’ nucleus of the University Center Arena (basketball and volleyball), Claude Smith Field (baseball), Sikes Field (softball) and the new Sand Volleyball courts are the beginning of a new wave of Mercer Athletics. Coach Jason Childs of Mercer Lacrosse called it a “point of pride for everyone on this campus and beyond.”
The Homer and Ruth Drake Field House is one of the crowning jewels of the Mercer football complex. This will house the football and lacrosse teams for their games, and it is expected to be ready for use by this fall’s practices, according to Coach Bobby Lamb. The head of Mercer football expects the facility to be ready for the full year of practices by either August or September, according to an interview earlier this year. “I’m really excited to get out there and break in the new facilities with Mercer’s first football team in decades this fall,” Lamb said.
The William H. Anderson II Family Field was also expected to be finished, or at least ready for play, by Coach Lamb. His ultimate goal is to have the team practicing on their home turf for as much of the first year as possible in order to get ready for the first Division I season in over 50 years. “I really believe that us practicing on the field for the whole first year will help prepare the guys to as close a game day environment before we can actually play a game. Getting them accustomed to their surroundings is critical,” Lamb added.
The Tony and Nancy Moye Family Football and Lacrosse Complex and the Marshall and Jane Butler Family Plaza are not key pieces to finish in order to practicing this fall for football and lacrosse, but they should be finished in time for the beginning of official play.
The general contractor in charge of the project is Chris R. Sheridan & Co. Any area residents or longtime Mercerians will know that they were responsible for the development of the McCorkle Music School, new School of Engineering building and the Administration building.
The firm in charge of designing the project is McMillan-Pazdan-Smith Architecture, a firm orchestrated out of Spartanburg, S.C. They have also designed the University of Richmond’s football stadium, the football complex at Elon University and the football facilities at Benedict College. Calling themselves a “preeminent regional sports architecture firm,” McMillan-Pazdan-Smith has put together a great facility that seems to be on target for completion at Mercer University in the near future.
Much-anticipated sports complex begins to take shape