Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Kennesaw State announced Tuesday the school will build an 8,300-seat stadium for
its women's soccer team, a facility officials called "the first of its kind in the
world" because of its size and focus on women's soccer.
As part of a partnership with the Owls, the new Atlanta Beat women's professional
soccer team has negotiated a five-year lease with the school to use the stadium for
its home games, which begin in early May.
The $16.5 million project is being funded through two significant, anonymous private
donations to the KSU Foundation, along with a mix of student fees, sponsorships,
ticket sales and concessions. KSU president Daniel Papp said that getting the project
done without dipping into tax money was a key to making it work.
"That was absolutely important. Given the budget situation and the state of Georgia,
we just couldn't use public funds," Papp said. "Unless we had all parts of this work
together, we couldn't bring it about."
The stadium is the centerpiece of a park that is expected to include seven fields
that can be used for practice or intramural sports, a rugby field and nature trails
on a 21-acre parcel of land between George Busbee Parkway and I-575 along Big Shanty
While university and foundation officials stressed that the stadium is being built
with the intention of being a women's soccer-specific facility, it also can accommodate
outdoor concerts, as well as high school sports such as football and lacrosse.
In addition, there is potential for the stadium's construction to present a key piece
toward the adoption of football as a varsity sport in the future. Papp said it will
be possible to expand the stadium's seating to 22,000 if the school decides to pursue
football, and KSU will announce the formation of a football exploratory committee
"Having this stadium and having this partnership with the Atlanta Beat opened up
possibilities for Kennesaw State that were not here previously," Papp said. "Ever
since I was nominated as president, I've been asked, ‘What's the story on football?'
Well, now we're going to have, conceivably, a place to play."
In the immediate future, though, it will be the home of the Beat, a franchise that
is in its second incarnation -- this time as part of the Women's Professional Soccer
league -- after an original run from 2001-03 with the defunct Women's United Soccer
The Beat will play 15 home games at the stadium in 2010, and KSU Foundation executive
director Wesley Wicker said financial details of the five-year lease still are being
He also said, regardless of the future of the Beat team and its league, the foundation
will be able to handle its financial obligation.
"The financing state is not dependent on the lease of the stadium," Wicker said.
"We expect this soccer franchise and the league to be successful, but we have received
two very large, anonymous contributions. Looking at ticket sales, concessions, parking,
we feel extremely confident that we'll not only finance the stadium but be profitable,
even if we don't hold outside events."