The soccer and baseball fields at Central College’s A.N. Kuyper Athletics Complex are getting a facelift.
New seating projects have kicked off at both facilities.
“These are donor-initiated and supported projects,” said athletics director Eric Van Kley. “No college funds are being used. We are extremely grateful to have donors who are so committed to serving our student-athletes.”
Dirt removal began recently for the Hillside Seating Project at the soccer field. The hillside on the east side of the playing field, just west of the complex parking lot, is being transformed into permanent seating. About 200 aluminum bucket seats will be installed along with 200 limestone terrace spectator seats. The project is slated for completion prior to the end of the fall season.
Fundraising continues for a future construction phase which will provide for a spectator plaza with a concession stand, covered seating, field lighting and restrooms. Cost for the entire project is estimated at $300,000. Fundraising is continuing and giving information is available by contacting Central College.
Central already has an outstanding playing surface and is one of just two schools in the league with a natural turf field. The Dutch also have irrigated practice fields for both the men’s and women’s squads. Central’s men’s team have made 11 consecutive Iowa Conference tourney appearances under coach Garry Laidlaw, reaching the finals in 2012. The Central women’s team is enjoying a resurgence under coach Mike Kobylinski and are ranked No. 10 in the NSCAA Division III regional coaches’ poll with a 52 mark.
“I can’t remember a more exciting time on campus with everything that’s going on, not just with the seating project but in other areas as well,” Laidlaw said. “I obviously want to thank the administration as well as the parents and alumni who have already contributed. And we’re grateful to Coach Van Kley, who has been one of the driving forces behind this. His enthusiasm is contagious. We’re very fortunate to have one of the best soccer fields around and this puts a topper on a fantastic existing facility.”
Kobylinski agreed, “This venue will be one of the nicest, not only in the region but in the nation,” he said. “We already have a very nice pitch but this will give it an intimate setting that will truly be special and unique.”
New baseball dugouts--Meanwhile at the Dutch baseball field, the Step Up to the Plate Project is kicking off with the construction of new dugouts. Backstop netting, similar to what was installed last year on the Central softball field, is being installed and the old dugouts have been demolished. New dugouts will be ready for the spring season for the Dutch, who captured the 2012 Iowa Conference championship and have racked up more than 200 wins in nine seasons under coach Adam Stevens.
Construction will also include stadium seating behind home plate. The project cost for this phase is estimated at $157,000. Fundraising is continuing and giving information is available by contacting the college.
“It’s been a fun process,” Stevens said. “This will give us one of the best baseball facilities in the conference. We’re really excited. I know that our fans will really enjoy watching games from this set-up. It’s going to be first class.”
The announcement comes on the heels of some major improvements at Ron and Joyce Schipper Stadium. A new Field Turf playing surface was installed over the summer and work has begun on a new Daktronics video board behind the north end zone, funded by a generous gift from PPI (Precision Pulley & Idler, Inc.) of Pella.
The college also announced in August a new agreement with Under Armour for Central’s gear and apparel.
“We’re really excited about our facilities improvements and the opportunities they present us to better serve our student-athletes,” said Van Kley. “With these improvements and the Under Armour deal, there is a lot of enthusiasm among our coaches, staff and teams. We’re thrilled with the momentum we have going forward with Central’s athletics programs.”