The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Construction on new soccer stadium underway

The Gummeson Grounds will have several improvements, including a new press box. (Photo courtesy of Charlie Johnson)

In early March 2022, the Gummeson Grounds project was announced. This project, spurred by a lead gift from men’s soccer alum Peter Gummeson ‘80, is intended to elevate the Lafayette soccer programs by renovating their stadium at Metzgar Fields.

The construction team officially broke ground on April 3 of this year. The old stadium, stands and press box have already been demolished, and the excavation process is currently in the works.

“We had meetings with Forks Township Community Center, their planning committee, and we showed renderings at the planning commission, making sure we’re following regulations,” Senior Associate Athletic Director for Facilities and Operations Andrew Foster said. “We got really great comments.”

Gummeson Grounds is estimated to cost $3.6 million overall. To complete the project, facilities will cooperate with the athletic department, something the two hope to continue going forward.

“We’re talking about reimagining Metzgar in general. We’re going through that phase right now through President Hurd’s strategic direction,” Foster said. “I think this in some way symbolizes what we are trying to do at Metzgar, and what we want to do moving forward with all of our facilities renovations.”

A conceptual image of the man-made hill leading into Gummeson stadium. (Photo courtesy of Charlie Johnson)

According to head men’s soccer coach Dennis Bohn, more gifts for the project came after Gummeson attended one of the soccer programs’ networking events in New York this year.

“We happened to speak about the stadium, and Mr. Gummeson … got a chance to speak a little bit about his passion for the project,” Bohn said. “There’s no doubt that after that evening, we were able to generate some more gifts to the project. It was more for the current student-athletes to network and get to meet some alumni, but it also turned into a little bit of a fundraiser.”

The new stadium will have many improvements that the previous Mike Bourger ’44 Field at Oaks Stadium did not have. According to Bohn, some of the most exciting improvements will be the underground irrigation system to keep the grass in good shape and a man-made hill behind one of the goals where fans can sit with their kids and pets.

“There’ll be an elevation that will kind of hide the stadium from the parking lot, which kind of will create an intimate feel for the atmosphere of the stadium,” Foster said.

In addition, some of the stand benches will be replaced to have new seat-backs, and the press box will be much larger. The main stand will have a roof overhang to protect the crowd from bad weather.

“There’ll be some other little pavilions and terraces throughout the new stadium that will allow people to view the game from different locations based on what they’re looking for,” Bohn said.

Both Foster and Bohn said that this new stadium has several benefits. It has the potential not only to elevate the players’ experience, but give the community a chance to participate, improve the recruitment process for Lafayette and inspire future improvements in the athletic department.

“In many ways, this is more than just soccer. As an athletic department, showcasing and seeing this on paper and making it come to fruition is very exciting,” Foster said. “I would imagine this stadium being something that we could open to the community … having the Easton-Phillipsburg rivalry games there, camps, clinics, youth days. I think it’ll be a stadium that we can showcase and be proud of.”

Bohn hopes this stadium will drive more students, alumni, family and local sports fans out to games. In terms of recruitment, this can be somewhere recruits can imagine themselves playing.

“But mostly for the student-athlete experience … this is something that’s just really historic for our program,” Bohn said. “The players are going to get a chance to play in a high-quality, first-class environment.”

The plan is for the stadium to be ready for mid to late August for the start of the women’s and men’s programs’ season-opening games.

“Everyone involved is very confident that we’re gonna have it ready to go,” Bohn said.

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Caroline McParland
Caroline McParland, Sports Editor

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