Alfred University News

Alfred University breaks ground on Saxon Hill Sports Complex

Alfred University hosted a ground-breaking ceremony Thursday afternoon, May 9, for a new sports complex near campus that will boost student enrollment, enhance its intercollegiate athletics offerings, and provide new recreational opportunities for the University and local communities.

Members of the University’s Board of Trustees, faculty and staff, coaches and student-athletes attended the groundbreaking for the Saxon Hill Sports Complex, a multi-field facility located on 200 acres atop Jericho Hill south of campus. Construction on the $30 million project, funded by a combination of bond issues and more than $10 million in philanthropic gifts, is set to begin this summer and be completed by early 2026.

LeChase Construction, Rochester, is the general contractor for the Saxon Hill project, while the Olean- based architectural firm of Clark, Patterson & Lee (CPL) is providing design services. Once completed, the complex will include:

  • Saxon Sports Center: locker rooms; athletic training room; offices; assembly space where alumni, parents/families can gather for tailgate functions; restrooms; media room.
  • Baseball field: lighted, synthetic turf field with scoreboard; bullpens and dugouts. A two-tier press box will house restrooms, a concession stand, team room, public address and game operations space.
  • Track and field facilities: lighted 400-meter eight-lane track with jump and throw areas; video scoreboard. The infield of the track will be a multi-purpose synthetic turf field which will be used as the home to the future intercollegiate field hockey team and as a practice facility for other outdoor sports teams.
  • Rugby field: lighted, natural grass field with scoreboard. The women’s and men’s rugby teams currently operate as club teams. The women’s team will begin play as an intercollegiate team this fall; the men’s team will transition to an intercollegiate program when the Saxon Hill facility is completed.
  • Grandstands: One set of grandstands will face the track and multi-purpose field, the other will face the rugby field. A dual-sided press box will feature public address and game operations booths for each competition venue. The Saxon Hill facility will also include four parking lots.

artist rendering of athletics fields“This is the largest investment in athletics at Alfred University,” Mark Zupan, University president, commented. “With the challenges facing higher education, this provides us with a strong headwind.”

Indeed, the project is expected to be a boon for student-athlete recruitment and student retention. The University estimates it will increase enrollment by approximately 170 over the first six years of its opening. Once completed, Saxon Hill will complement nearby existing sports and recreational facilities located in the area atop Jericho Hill. These include the Bromeley-Daggett Equestrian Center at Maris Cuneo Equine Park, home to Alfred University’s world-class equestrian program, and Foster Lake, which provides the campus community with numerous recreational and co-curricular opportunities.

“What an exciting day for Alfred University and the community,” remarked Carolyn Clark ’90, chair of the University’s Board of Trustees, who was a star player on the Saxons’ women’s soccer team in the late 1980s. She recalled practicing and playing on a field on Jericho Hill and wondering “why I came here to play on a grass field like that…To see this (Saxon Hill project) is a dream come true.”

woman speaking at a podium
Carolyn Clark ’90, chair of the Alfred University Board of Trustees, makes comments during Thursday’s groundbreaking ceremony for the Saxon Hill Sports Complex.

“You can’t say enough about the passion of our trustees, their commitment to our students,” Clark commented. “It’s exciting to see what adding 170 students will do for our University.”

For years, the grass field just off County Road 12 in the town of Alfred has been used primarily by the Alfred club rugby team, with an adjacent field used as a practice facility for the football team. The new fields, while serving as the host sites for the Saxons’ men’s and women’s rugby teams, men’s and women’s cross country and outdoor track and field teams, and baseball team, will also provide new practice space for the teams that currently must share the on-campus facilities at Merrill Field’s Yunevich Stadium. Members of those teams—football, men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s lacrosse—often find themselves practicing in the early morning, before classes, or late into the evening.

“This is crucial to removing the pressure on the Merrill Field teams,” said Deb Steward, associate vice president for Student Experience, Athletics and Recreation. She estimates that 400 student-athletes competing on varsity intercollegiate teams, as well as those playing on club and intramural teams, will make use of the Saxon Hill facility.

Steward thanked those who helped make the project a reality, including the coaches and athletics staff who provided valuable input and suggestions. “Teamwork does make the dream work,” she said.

Two student-athletes, baseball player Quinton Jordan and women’s rugby player Samantha Stock, spoke about their appreciation for the University’s investment in Saxon Hill.

“We’re eagerly looking forward to throwing out that first pitch,” said Jordan, a senior from Olean, NY. “We’re grateful for this amazing experience. Thank you for your vision and support.”

“I’ve never been prouder to be part of a team,” Stock, a first-year student from Ellicottville, NY, added. “I speak for all of our teams when I say thank you.”

Erin Martinovich, vice president for Advancement, thanked the donors, many of them Board of Trustees members, for their generosity in helping the University meet Trustees’ requirement of an initial philanthropic investment of $10 million. The lead donors include Board of Trustees members Clark, Russ Cesari ’67, Greg Connors ’92 (past Board chair), Terry Galanis, Steve Heine ’81 (Board vice chair), Charlie Joyce (Life Trustee), Kevin Livingston ’93, and Marlin Miller ’54, HD ’89 and ’19 (Board chair emeritus). Alumni lead donors include Nick Ferreri ’64, Rick ’75 and Mena ’73 Hansinger, Mark Mertel ’67, and the late Susan and Lane Ehmke (both 1968 graduates).

Zupan cited the cooperative and collaborative effort in bringing the project to fruition. “I’ve been part of a lot of teams in my life. This is the best management team, and the best broader team, I’ve been part of,” he said.

“Our main thing at Alfred University is the student experience,” Zupan said in offering a champagne toast before the ceremonial ground-breaking. “Thank you to everyone who made this a reality. Here’s to the student experience.”