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Ramer Field’s restoration raises student fees

March 27, 2008

On March 4, the UW-River Falls Student Senate voted 19-2 in favor of raising student fees for the renovation of Ramer Field.

Ramer Field was built in 1967, and has been largely untouched since then, according the UWRF athletics Web site.

The project is estimated to cost $3.5 million and to be finished in 2012. A $4 raise in student fees during the 2008-09 and 2009-10 school years will pay for the bulk of the cost.

The Kansas City Chiefs, who hold their summer training camp at UWRF, “will be asked for a contribution, but they are not part of the pay package,” Athletic Director Rick Bowen said.

The David Smith family and the First National Bank of River Falls have also given some money in support of the project.

The exact amount is undisclosed, but it is a “substantial grant,” Bowen said.

Planning for the renovation started back in October 2006.

“It was at the reception for the 2006 hall of fame inductees when Brian Sanders, who was the major gifts officer at the foundation, and I brought a renovation of Ramer Field up in casual conversation to [Chancellor] Don Betz,” Bowen said.

The Ramer Field renovation is not without precedent. The University Center was paid for by student fees, as was the Hunt Arena.

“One of the reasons we have such an outstanding hockey program is because we have our own on-campus arena,” Bowen said.

Ramer Field is substandard compared to other UW System facilities.

“They have updated their facilities as time has demanded; [Ramer Field] is without question the worst facility in the conference,” Bowen said. “All you have to do is take a tour around the campus [of] the people we are competing against and what they have, and it is a very distinct visual that we have the worst.”

Specific changes that will be made include improving the aesthetics around the field, replacing the lights, adding a new press box and replacing the grass with artificial turf.

Currently, Ramer Field is used by only the Falcon football team, River Falls High School football and Falcon track and field.

After the renovation, it could be used by women’s soccer, intramurals, club teams and community along with University events.

“One of the selling points to the student body was the opening up of the field to be able to use [it] as an intramural field [because of the turf],” Bowen said.

The renovation is not a quick fix for the football team, but it will improve the athletic department.

“We’re better than what we have,” Bowen said. “Great facilities will not guarantee that you will get the best players – bad facilities will guarantee that you won’t.”