UB community celebrates Murchie Family Fieldhouse grand opening
Campus community, Murchie family gather to cut the ribbon
The UB community celebrated the Murchie Family Fieldhouse’s ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday, as the facility opened its doors to the public.
UB sports teams had access to the facility for training as early as last spring, when construction ended. Construction for the $18 million facility lasted nearly two years, and was funded solely through philanthropy and athletics revenue. The UB community gathered inside the new facility at 11 a.m as the event began with performances from the UB Dazzlers Dance Team and the Thunder of the East Marching Band. Community members cut the ribbon after speeches from UB President Satish Tripathi, Athletic Director Mark Alnutt and Brittany Murchie, a representative from the donor family. The crowd filled nearly a third of the indoor football field.
And now, student-athletes will use the facility to train as it will be available to UB's Division-I teams, as well as some intramural and club sports.
The addition of the fieldhouse to North Campus makes a difference for teams that struggle with training in harsh weather. Kara Daly, UB soccer player and senior management major, says the new facility provides an indoor option for teams that would otherwise be forced to cancel their outdoor practices. In turn, the Bulls will have more time to progress.
“In previous years, we had to cut practice [when there was bad weather]. Now that we have this, we can conveniently just walk over here and start practicing here, which is huge. Like losing three days out of ten during preseason is obviously very difficult to continue picking back up,” Daly said.
Members of the UB athletics community said they are relieved they no longer have to travel off-campus to indoor practice facilities during the colder months. Alnutt said the fieldhouse is a “tremendous” way to reduce time constraints for student-athletes.
“[Now] we don’t have to get on a bus and go 35 minutes to Orchard Park to Bills Stadium to practice,” Alnutt said. “You save a lot of time to be able to come over here, go back to your locker room, and then be able to go back to your studies, whatever the case might be,” Alnutt said.
Kayode Awosika, a red-shirt junior on the football team, said he agrees with Alnutt.
“It’s just a blessing now that we have this fieldhouse open so that we can have practices right here next to the stadium, get to classes on time: it makes everything more efficient,” Awosika said.
Members of athletics said they also hope the fieldhouse will help build up the department for the future. Lance Leipold, head football coach, believes the facility will give the team an edge in the recruitment process. The fieldhouse is expected to be an enticing stop along the way when potential Bulls tour campus.
“When a young man gets to see where he gets to live and where he trains and the convenience of everything that we are trying to put together here, I think that they find out that it’s pleasantly surprising what is starting to develop here,” Leipold said.
Angres Thorpe, assistant men’s basketball coach, was also grateful for the recruiting opportunities that the fieldhouse would bring.
“This is a great recruiting point for us. … It’s just another part of the campus that we are able to show off. It is a very serious commitment from the athletic department toward UB athletics and even men’s basketball,” Thorpe said.
Tripathi said he believes the addition of the fieldhouse comes at an appropriate time, with the rising success of some of UB’s teams. He said the new facility will only help them improve.
“Our athletics program has been on an impressive upwards trajectory for the past several years. … This premier indoor practice facility will help us build on that excitement and that momentum so we can achieve even greater success with each new season,” Tripathi said.
The fieldhouse will not be available for open recreation. Still, Alnutt stressed that all students will have access to the space through intramural and club sports.
“There will be opportunities for all of our students to participate in intramurals and our recreational services and to be able to come in and to participate at a high, high level in this facility,” Alnutt said.
Brittany Murchie, a representative from the fieldhouse’s donor family, hinted that the family may extend their generosity in the future.
“Our family is extremely excited for the future of UB athletics and we are prepared to keep the momentum going,” Murchie said. “Our next step would be the realization of a fitness and conditioning center that would be fittingly named The Factory. But we need help from our community, and so I challenge fellow Buffalonians, alumni and sports enthusiasts to step up and consider a gift to this athletic program. Please join us by investing in these defining moments because with them, we have the ability to develop some of the best athletes, entrepreneurs and influencers this country has yet to see.”
Julian Roberts-Grmela is an assistant features editor and can be reached at email@example.com.