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Lake Erie College hopes to bring more sporting events to campus with new turf field

Feb. 22—Lake Erie College is preparing to build a new turf field that it can use to bring more sporting events to its Painesville campus.

The project was announced at a Feb. 22 student assembly, where the college also recognized Lake County officials for contributing $1.5 million to the project. The college is looking to complete the work for the fall 2024 athletic season.

The practice field is located between college residence halls and the Jerome T. Osborne Family Athletic and Wellness Center. College Athletic Director Molly Hoffman said that the soccer and lacrosse teams currently use it for practice when they cannot use Jack Britt Memorial Stadium at Painesville's Kiwanis Recreation Park.

"Next year, this will be a competition site for several of our programs," she said. "Most notably, Jack Britt is not wide enough for soccer to host an NCAA tournament game there, so we've been blessed with the opportunity to be a top seed a couple of times and we've had to go to other locations. With this field coming to fruition, we'll be able to host right here on our own campus."

Lake Erie is also "exploring other options" for the turf field, Hoffman said. Its outdoor teams "will at least be able to practice on the turf field."

When asked if that would include the Storm's football team, she said that they currently remain at Jack Britt but added that the college is "still working out details to see where they'll sort of end up in the future."

"This is something that can enhance our student experience," Hoffman said. "It limits the commute to practice, it gives them more opportunity to have their classmates, friends and faculty come see them compete in their sport right in center of our campus."

"There's going to be a lot of energy and excitement," college President Jennifer Schuller added.

Schuller said that the benefits of having a new turf field on campus can extend to the classroom as well.

"Even faculty are so ecstatic about the field because students will come to class more well-rested," she said.

"We are a Division II college, and 80% of our students are student-athletes, so facilities such as this are an important recruitment and retention tool," Schuller added in a college news release.

Schuller also believes that the field will provide benefits for the surrounding community.

"It will be a second turf field in Painesville," she said. "We'll be able to host between Jack Britt and here huge soccer tournaments and our soccer coaches are already talking to people who want to bring national tournaments to the area. So, it will generate a lot of tourism, a lot of, obviously, people staying in the hotels and using the restaurants."

"What is especially great about this grant is it will provide us a greater opportunity to introduce K-12 students and local club teams to our campus and will enable us to host state and national tournaments," Hoffman added in the news release.

Current soccer players expressed excitement for the news.

"I think as a whole it's going to be brilliant," said men's soccer midfielder Kacy Parish.

"I think the program is solid as a whole already in the soccer department, and I think this is only going to make it go, push even further," he added.

"Hearing that announcement today is really exciting," said women's soccer forward Ainsley MacKenzie.

"It's really cool, a chance to take our team to a new level through this facility and everything, and just really excited to get started when the field's put in," she added.

Schuller said that the funding agreement came after she discussed the need for a turf field with the Lake County commissioners. The commissioners and Lake Development Authority were both involved in the grant process and were recognized at the assembly.

Hoffman said that the college does not currently have information on pricing or the type of turf since it has not yet bid out the project. Schuller added that construction work will begin in April.

The news release added that the college will seek donations to fund a new scoreboard, press box and grandstands, and it will offer naming opportunities. People interested in learning more can reach Vice President of Advancement Connie Skingel at cskingel@lec.edu.