Let the games begin

by Marcus E. Howard KENNESAW - Kennesaw State University officially opened its new sports and…

Georgia (Oct 5, 2009) — by Marcus E. Howard


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KENNESAW - Kennesaw State University officially opened its new sports and recreation park Friday, which will be used by students competing in the university's growing intramural and club sports.

The facility includes two state-of-the-art fields, a practice field and the Owls Nest training facility, converted from a Gold's Gym, and all sit on 14 acres of land off George Busbee Parkway.

In 2008, a total of 88 acres of land, just east of Interstate 75 and south of Chastain Road, was purchased by the KSU Foundation, the university's fundraising arm.

Friday's ribbon-cutting marked the completion of Phase I of a project that will eventually include an 8,300-seat soccer stadium, which is under construction. The completed park will also have multipurpose fields, sand volleyball courts, 4,683 feet of nature and hiking trails, and a 12-acre lake. The total cost is $10 million, according to the university.

Charlotte-based Choate Construction built the finished facilities. The fields are said to have one of the newest synthetic turfs on the market, which can drain up to thousands of gallons of water an hour.

University officials said the new facilities were sorely needed for intramural and club sports.

"This is an immense enhancement of campus life for our students," KSU President Dr. Dan Papp said. "We had considerably outgrown the 1.6 acres of intramural fields that existed on KSU's main campus before the opening of this facility."

KSU has an enrollment of 22,500 students - 14,000 are full time and 3,200 live on campus. Student participation in intramural and club sports increased by 1,400 students, or 31 percent, between the 2005-06 and 2007-08 academic years, according to the university. About 2,200 KSU students now participate in intramural and club sports, which include rugby, flag football, basketball, softball, hockey, cheerleading and lacrosse.

Papp said the university has already received several inquiries about the completed fields. The University of Hawaii, he said, has already sent a team to inspect them to potentially replicate them in Honolulu.

Jennifer Byers, president of KSU's women's lacrosse club, described the fields as "amazing."

The upfront funding for recreation facility came from the KSU Foundation, but the entire project will be paid for by student fees, which are $40 per semester. Student Government President Daniel Street said the fees have been worth it.

A lot has changed at KSU since it was founded in 1963.

Dr. Jerome Ratchford, vice president of student success and enrollment services, has been at KSU for 21 years. He remembered when students 20 years ago requested to dig up dirt on campus with a backhoe in order to mud wrestle.

"We did that on several occasions," he said. "Once they finished doing it, we would put the soil back into the surface."

When he joined the university's board of trustees 10 years ago, KSU Foundation Chairman Norman Radow recalled that the foundation had just $6 million in assets, and that the then-commuter college with about 11,000 students, had more part-time students than full-time learners.

It was also landlocked with 180 acres, he said.

Radow said it has added 140 acres over the past seven years and the foundation now has more than $400 million in assets, most of which is in real estate.

"We are exploding in every single way, both in size and in quality," he said.


A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu