A $1 million grant from the Sunderland Foundation will support the first phase of the Baker Builds Champions capital project to improve athletic facilities at Baker University in Baldwin City, Kansas. The three-phase capital cornerstone project is estimated at over $17 million.
“Baker University thanks the Sunderland Foundation for its support of our long-term vision for this project and their belief that this phase 1 leadership gift will provide momentum for our fundraising efforts that will lead other donors to make financial commitments,” said Dr. Lynne Murray, university president. “In light of the success of our recent $25 million Forever Orange campaign, I am confident in our ability to raise funds for this initiative. I know this is a project that our alumni, donors, and corporate partners will get behind.”
Since 1976, the Sunderland Foundation has supported capital projects instrumental in the university’s ability to provide the first-rate education and student experience Baker is known for.
“Because student-athletes comprise approximately 60 percent of the student body and these students become leaders not only on their athletic teams but also in campus organizations and across academic disciplines, this project will have a significant impact on the student experience and the ability to recruit and retain exceptional students,” Murray said.
The Baker Builds Champions project includes improvements to some of the most used athletic facilities on campus and will support the continued growth of the Athletic Department and reduce strain on the currently available spaces. The two main areas to benefit from the project are the outdoor sports complex, anchored by Liston Stadium, and the George F. Collins Jr. Sports and Convention Center.
“With nearly 600 students participating on more than 20 teams, our current facilities do not align with our strategic goal to provide an exceptional student experience,” said Athletic Director Nate Houser. “Year after year, participation increases, but our facilities cannot meet the needs of our students.”
The existing outdoor complex is home to Liston Stadium, which is used for football, men’s and women’s soccer, and men’s and women’s track and field. It also includes Cavaness Field for softball and Sauder Field for baseball. The project will relocate the softball field to the northwest quadrant of the complex and reconfigure and reconstruct the baseball field. Both fields will be outfitted with turf, dugouts, backstops, lights, and stands. These teams will share an indoor batting cage located between the fields. A new turf soccer field will be built in the southeast quadrant of the complex and will also be used for a future men’s and women’s lacrosse program. New facilities for the track and field throwing events will be built just west of the soccer field.
The Collins Center is home to women’s volleyball and men’s and women’s basketball for practice and competition. It is also the indoor training facility for men’s and women’s golf and serves as the competition space for men’s and women’s wrestling, cheer, and dance. Intramural sports are played in Collins Center, which is the only large competition space for the university.
To increase training and competition space, a 22,000-square-foot facility, either freestanding or as an addition, that is dedicated to wrestling, cheer, and dance practice will be constructed.