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Among campus construction projects, David Smith Stadium set for rededication

September 17, 2015

A rededication ceremony for the David Smith Football Stadium at Ramer Field will be held on Sept. 19 before the first UW-River Falls (UWRF) home football game of the season.

“Among all the strife of the budget and different things in the last year… it’s been a tough year on campus. So this is a way to kind of put a smile on the face and celebrate…that there are good things that are still being accomplished. And it’s a way for us to recognize and thank the people that made the project possible,” Chris Mueller, Assistant Chancellor of University Advancement said.

The ceremony will include speeches from Mueller, Chancellor Dean Van Galen, Student Senate President Chris Morgan, and members of the David Smith family, for whom the stadium is named.

Smith was the president and CEO of First National Bank of River Falls until his death in 1994. He was a supporter of River Falls’ athletics and his family donated the money that got the project started.

The new Smith Stadium was part of a capital fundraising project done over 8 years with a final budget of $1.9 million.

“What we’re celebrating is that 1.9 million dollar goal which put up the press box, much of the fencing, the courtyard area, the gateway entrances… 1.1 million of private money, gifts, that’s what we had to raise, $500,000 of the student fees… and then $300,000 in support from the school district of River Falls,” Mueller said.

River Falls High School’s football team also plays their home games at Smith Stadium.

The project included four features that will be dedicated.

Players from the teams of the 1980s who won four straight conference championships raised money for the Champions Gate.

Mike Farley, the coach of these teams is also being honored. The home coaches’ box in the press box of the new stadium will have his name.

The other gate is named for Fran Polsfoot, who was a coach at UWRF in the 1950’s and whose former players raised money to honor him with the gate.

One private donation for the stadium project came from Shannon and Angel Zimmerman. This gift went towards building the Zimmerman Gateway, which is the architectural feature that spectators will see as they enter the stadium.

A matching gateway will be built in front of the Falcon Center, which is projected to open in 2017.

The Falcon Center is being built next to the stadium and has a budget of $63.5 million which is primarily funded by the state, but also by student fees and private gifts.

According to a brochure created by UWRF, “In 2011 the building commission approved advanced enumeration of $50.5 million dollars in GPR support in the 2013-2015 biennial budget for construction of a $63.5 million Falcon Center at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. Funding for the project includes an $11 million commitment by UWRF students and a $2 million commitment by the UW-River Falls Foundation.”

The Falcon Center will essentially double the size of what is now called Hunt-Knowles, which it is being built in connection to.

The Falcon Center and Smith Stadium projects have some overlap. The original Falcon Center project included an outdoor, lit, AstroTurf field for intramurals.

The new Ramer Field playing surface was also planned to be AstroTurf, so the money that was allotted for the intramural field was used instead for the playing surface on Ramer Field and it will be shared by intramurals and football.

The Falcon Center will benefit all students, athletes and non-athletes.

“It will just create an environment of excitement because one of the things we have lacked on the athletics side is facilities, collegiate quality facilities, and we’re anticipating that it will enhance recruitment in terms of quality athletes, and that leads to more wins, which leads to more fans wanting to see them play, which lends itself to more school spirit and being proud to be a Falcon,” UWRF Athletic Director Roger Ternes said.

The Falcon Center will include Athletics offices, two gyms, a wellness center, aerobics studios, locker and training rooms, as well as renovations to the existing Hunt Ice Arena.

“For the first time, we’ll have a first class wellness center…that will be a major new addition within the Falcon Center… all students will be able to use that without a charge,” Chancellor Dean Van Galen said.

The Falcon Center will also be the new home for Health and Human Performance (H&HP) classrooms and a research lab.

“One of the things UWRF has prided itself in across our campus [is] undergraduate research, and this will give us a lab so that our H&HP students can be involved in undergraduate research and the rehabilitation of cardiac rehab patients,” Ternes said.

H&HP classes are currently held in the Karges Center.

Karges, which was completed in 1959, is planned to be deconstructed and the area will become greenspace.

According to the brochure, 19 years ago, an analysis of the Karges Center was done and it was determined that its athletic facilities were “substandard.”

For more information about the Falcon Center project, visit uwrf.edu/FalconCenter.