KENNESAW - The new Kennesaw State University Soccer Stadium at Busbee Parkway and Big Shanty Road…
Georgia (May 3, 2010) — KENNESAW - The new Kennesaw State University Soccer Stadium at Busbee Parkway and Big Shanty Road officially opened Sunday afternoon with a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by more than 1,100 public visitors.
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The $16.5 million, 8,318-seat stadium is in its final stage of preparations for the home opener this Sunday of the Atlanta Beat professional women's soccer team. Players from the team as well as KSU women's soccer team - which will play at the stadium in the fall - made appearances at the ceremony. Visitors were allowed to tour the facility, take photos, sample concessions food and watch soccer drills.
After his remarks to the crowd, KSU President Dan Papp told the Journal that the stadium's opening is a huge step forward into a "wonderful future" for KSU and the Beat.
"For KSU, this is something that we've been dreaming about for years," he said. "We now have a wonderful stadium that we can use for field sports across the board."
The facility is owned by the university's fundraising arm, the KSU Foundation, and is managed by the Beat. Papp said the stadium gives KSU opportunities to do other things like host concerts, thanks to the ability to seat 16,316 spectators, including on the field, and possibly football in the future. Legendary University of Georgia coach Vince Dooley is scheduled to present findings of a football exploratory committee to Papp in September.
T. Fitz Johnson, Atlanta Beat owner, expressed his excitement to the Journal on Sunday of the stadium's opening. He said more than 5,000 tickets have been sold for Sunday's game.
"We clearly expect to sell this place out," Johnson said. "We need everyone in this community to say, 'lets get behind this.' This is their team and I want everyone to come out and enjoy this."
Johnson said he may have visited the stadium "200 times" in anticipation of the opening.
"Look at this facility, it's absolutely gorgeous," he said. "Watching the progress and everything go in is just amazing."
During the ceremony, remarks were also made by KSU Foundation chairman Norman Radow - who noted the challenge of finding funding for the more than $53 million, 9-field KSU new sports and recreation park, including $25 million to purchase the land alone - and Daniel Street, KSU Student Government Association president, who led students in supporting increased student fees to help raise money for the stadium's construction.
Choate Construction crews have worked 24-hour shifts to finish the stadium. On Sunday, there were bright yellow seats that had yet to be installed around the green bermuda grass, that is reported to have been unused sod at Augusta National Golf Club.
The stadium itself is believed to be the only one in the U.S. built specifically for women's soccer and the first soccer-specific stadium in Georgia. In Cobb, only McEachern High School's Cantrell stadium, which can seat up to 12,500 people, is larger.
KSU's stadium includes four women's locker rooms, a players' lounge, an equipment room, a training facility, 572 club seats, 132 patio seats, 12 private suites, two press suites, a media interview room, and Wi-Fi access.
Among notables at the event were Cobb Commissioner Helen Goreham, former Cobb Commissioner Sam Olens, state Sen. John Wiles (R-Kennesaw), Kennesaw Mayor Mark Mathews and city council members, WellStar Health Systems president and CEO Dr. Greg Simone, KSU Foundation trustees, KSU benefactor Bobbie Bailey, and Journal publisher Otis Brumby Jr.
Goreham, whose district includes part of KSU, said the new stadium will be "an economic engine for the Kennesaw area, Town Center area and obviously for the university." Mathew said the city of Kennesaw will also likely benefit from the increased traffic to the area.
For Beat head coach Gareth O'Sullivan, the stadium is a welcomed sight for his team, which has been playing on the road since March 18.
"Just having a consistent, proper size grass field of this quality - it's only going to be good for the game," he said.
Sean and Suzanne Rodriguez of Kennesaw - who brought their three soccer-playing children, Sebastian, 9, Sheyanne, 6, and Simone, 4, to Sunday's event - said they hope to watch many soccer games at the stadium.
"We're ecstatic about the Beat and Kennesaw women's sports in general," said Carey Bayer of Powder Springs. She attended the opening ceremony with her husband, Dave Bayer, and 4-year-old daughter, Emma, whom they said was excited about perhaps growing up and playing soccer.
The Atlanta Beat's home opener is scheduled to be nationally televised at 7 p.m. Sunday on the Fox Soccer Channel.
A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers more than 150 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 41,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the second-largest university in the state. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 126 countries across the globe. 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.