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Gift Leads to UMaine Athletics Field Upgrades

Contact: Joe Carr at (207) 581-3571; Laura Reed at (207) 581-3646

ORONO — A $1 million gift from University of Maine benefactors Phillip H. and Susan K. Morse, through the Boston Red Sox Foundation, will provide the catalyst for a significant upgrade of University of Maine outdoor athletic facility playing surfaces. Phillip Morse, an owner and vice chair of the Boston Red Sox, and his wife, Susan Keene Morse, both graduated from UMaine in 1964. Their daughter, Katherine S. Morse, is a 1992 UMaine graduate.

Plans, subject to University of Maine System Board of Trustees approval at the board’s January, 2008 meeting, call for three significant projects.

  • Morse Field at Harold Alfond Stadium, already named for the Phillip H. and Susan K. Morse in recognition of their gift that funded the original field’s construction, will be replaced with a new form of synthetic turf designed specifically for sports like football.
  • A new synthetic field hockey playing surface will be constructed beyond the outfield at Kessock Field, the UMaine softball facility.
  • The Mahaney Diamond baseball turf will be replaced with a synthetic surface.

UMaine will fund the latter two projects with internal loans to be paid back from athletics revenues and/or future gifts, along with some university recreation funds. The total price tag is projected at $2.2 million.

“In addition to providing a boost for Black Bear varsity sports, these enhancements will also provide important facility upgrades for UMaine’s popular and growing recreational sports programs,” says UMaine President Robert Kennedy. “Phil and Susan have once again humbled us with their generosity, and this wonderful, meaningful gift will have a positive impact on a tremendous number of current and future UMaine students.”

UMaine Athletic Director Blake James hopes that work will begin in the spring of 2008, with an eye toward having the upgraded fall sports venues ready for next season.

“Facility upgrades represent a significant priority for the UMaine athletics department, and this plan will allow us to take care of three important needs at once,” James says. “These enhancements will have an instant, positive impact on several sports and will provide some important momentum as we move forward on plans to upgrade Memorial Gym and other sports facilities.”

“This is a most meaningful gift on several fronts,” says UMaine Vice President and Dean of Students Robert Dana. “The non-varsity athletes who participate in recreational sports will benefit, in addition to those who wear the Black Bear uniform. The increased opportunities for exercise and healthy competition will enhance student community life in important ways.”

If the plan is approved and moves forward on the anticipated timetable, work on the baseball facility will begin after the 2008 season, with a target completion date of later next year.

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