K-State Officially Breaks Ground on Soccer and FB Fields

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 MANHATTAN, Kan. -- With the inaugural season of K-State women's soccer debuting in the fall of 2016, K-State Athletics officially broke ground on new practice and competition fields on Saturday morning.
Dignitaries that took part in the ceremony included: Kansas State University first lady Noel Schulz, K-State Athletics Director John Currie and K-State women's soccer head coach Mike Dibbini.

The new home for soccer will be located just south of Tointon Family Stadium as two grass fields consisting of a Bermuda surface, new irrigation and drainage system are being constructed on the current site of the former football practice fields. The first phase of the project, which began on Monday, is being managed by Mid-America Sports Construction and Wildcat Construction and is anticipated to be completed by July.

Both soccer and football will utilize the space, as a practice field on the east side of the site will accommodate both sports. The soccer competition field is being built along College Avenue on the west side of the site, and will provide versatility for future fan experience amenities including lighting, bleacher seating, a press facility, decorative fencing and a scoreboard. Fans will be able to utilize the existing restroom and concessions facilities at Tointon Family Stadium for games in the fall of 2016. The cost of the initial phase of the project is estimated at $2.1 million and will be totally funded by department-generated revenue.

The new facility for soccer and football, in addition to the current Vanier Football Complex project at Bill Snyder Family Stadium, brings the department's total facility enhancements total to $192 million following the opening of the West Stadium Center, Basketball Training Facility, Intercollegiate Rowing Facility and Mike Goss Tennis Stadium.

With members from 32 different states, K-State Athletics continues to accept memberships in the K-State Soccer Founders Club. To join or receive more information, contact the K-State Athletics Ticket Office at (800) 221-CATS.

Transcript from Saturday's K-State Women's Soccer Facility Groundbreaking Ceremony

Kansas State University first lady Noel Schulz
"It is really an honor for me to be here today and for us to have this great audience with possible rain in the forecast, but you are out here because you are diehard K-State fans and we appreciate that. Today is a day that we have several celebrations going on on the K-State campus. This morning my husband, University President (Kirk) Schulz, University Provost April Mason and Alumni Association CEO Amy Button-Renz are in Salina as they celebrate the graduation and the completion of degrees by our Salina alums. But like our Salina alums today, as they move forward toward new beginnings, we celebrate a new beginning with our women's soccer team. As I reflected on the opportunity to speak today, I wanted to talk about a couple of different things that related to women's athletics as well as women's soccer. I had an opportunity to be a walk-on in women's tennis in college and played one year at Virginia Tech and one of the things that I think I learned during that time was what I learned as a student-athlete. The first thing was how to balance practice and classes and homework and maybe a little personal life in there and try to learn how to do that and our student-athletes do that every day. I also learned about teamwork and how I had to depend on others and work with teammates and to try to make things better and win the games and try to be a better person. I learned how to graciously win and I learned how to use losses to advance and improve. I really believe I stand here today with my Ph.D. in electrical engineering because of the sports I played and the principles I learned during that time. So I think it is very important in growing up, in particular for young women, to gain that self-confidence and experience. In the women's soccer world, I reflected back to 1999. In 1999, the US hosted the Women's World Cup and you may remember all of the enthusiasm and excitement around the country for a women's team sport. It really brought to the forefront opportunities for women in team sports and advancing them. 90,000 fans watched the final match against China, as the US team won with penalty kicks. Names like Mia Hamm, Julie Fowdy, Brandi Chastain and Brianna Scurry became common names and women's sports role models that we could strive to think about how we could become like them and advance ourselves. Now K-State is part of the women's soccer family. Coach Dibbini and his staff have hit the ground running and already have several signed recruits and they are working on their limited schedule for the 2016 season and a full schedule for the fall of 2017. This facility will be a part of that in helping them advance what they do. It is exciting to think of K-State as a land grant university where it gives all people an opportunity for education, but now thousands of young women across the state of Kansas can think about possibly playing intercollegiate soccer at Kansas State University. I really want to acknowledge the efforts of our athletic director John Currie and his staff because over the six years that John has been our athletic director, it has been about all of our student-athletes, all 440 of our student-athletes, no matter what team they are on. It has been about making their experience world class and making sure their facilities are world class. This is a great example and extension of that. We have several facilities designated just for women's sports recently. The soccer field is an extension of that. Our rowing center and Goss Tennis Stadium are all examples where we have worked to improve our women's sports. It is really a great time to be on the K-State campus. I am thinking I need to get a hard hat and orange vest to wear on campus every day because between on campus and our athletic facilities, there is construction everywhere. I think when we have visitors coming into town they say, `things are really happening in Manhattan and K-State,' because of all the different facilities and improvements we have and because of you and how you support Kansas State University."

K-State Athletics Director John Currie
"Here at Kansas State, we have done this so often, we now have a special groundbreaking pin. To be honest, Kenny (Lannou) and I were standing up here last night between innings trying to count up how many groundbreakings, dedications and topping-out ceremonies we have had over the last five or six years and I think we got to 10 or 11 ceremonies. That is just what it is here at K-State. Another day, another groundbreaking for the K-State Wildcats. I want to start by recognizing a number of our special guests here today. From MidAmerica Sports Construction, we have Jeff Porter. We also have our design principal from DLR Architects in Kansas City, Bob Carlson. Also in the audience I believe are Brock Wilson and Carter Morrison from MidAmerica Sports Construction and I believe Roger McClellan is here somewhere in the audience from Wildcat Construction. Mr. K-State Ernie Barrett was here last night, I don't know if he has made it here this morning. We do have a number of our K-State Soccer Founder's Club members here today, including a number of platinum members including John Vanier, Jim and Betty Manor and Gordon and Pat Crosby. The Founder's Club, for those of you watching around the world on K-StateHD.TV, has 558 members in 32 states which is pretty incredible growth for a sport that is not yet ready to take the field here at K-State and we are excited about the fall of 2016 and our debut match. We are excited about our coaches, but needless to say, these guys are not around very much. They are out on the road canvassing the state and all around the country. There is a great buzz out there already among our national alumni base. Let me also recognize members of our senior staff that have gotten us to this point starting with Lindsey Babcock, our Associate AD for Compliance who is also our sport administrator for women's soccer and has done an excellent job of getting Coach Dibbini and his staff up and running. Scott Garrett, Kenny Lannou, Jill Shields, Casey Scott, Clint Dowdle, Charlie Thomas. We have been on Charlie about getting this facility ready and all of a sudden I came from the Final Four and Charlie said, `You know we are starting in like two weeks, John.' And so here we are, so great job Charlie for keeping this thing moving along. Really our entire K-State Athletics family. I appreciate very much the leadership and example of Dr. Noel Schulz and Dr. Kirk Schulz. What I want to say Noel is, over here in the soccer facility, we just want to have a soccer complex that our engineering school can be proud of. We are going to work hard at that. K-State soccer represents a lot of things. I think Noel did an excellent job of touching on the impact soccer has had on America and young women in America. There are 290 schools of the 350 NCAA Division I schools that have women's soccer and I am very proud that Kansas State will be joining that group in 2016. There are nine schools of the 10 in the Big 12 that sponsor women's soccer and so we will be completing the full round robin as the 10th school. We will figure out a way to have one true champion in women's soccer because we have a tournament. It is very fitting that this move to soccer is our commitment to our conference partners to being a full-fledged member of the Big 12. I would add that, for those of you in attendance, as we talk about fiscal responsibility there are no tax dollars or university tuition dollars coming into this project. This project is another example of an impact that donors and people that buy tickets and Founder's Club members are having. Not just for the young women that will have the opportunity to compete, but also for the community of Manhattan. There is a lot of foresight through the years. I mentioned Ernie Barrett and go back to Vince Gibson and those people around in the 1960s, but think about the fact that when this facility is done we will have our intercollegiate soccer, football practice field and baseball facility, our basketball arena, our rowing facility and our football stadium obviously all in the same quadrant. They will be utilizing the same parking, access the northwest corner and gateway to our beautiful campus. It is really great vision of people long ago to make the decision to anchor the athletics campus here in a way that is very functional for the entire university community and the city of Manhattan. I salute those folks that came before us. As I talk about $192 million in athletics facility construction, it has been privately generated and privately funded over the last five or six years, you have to thank all those Ahearn Fund members in all 50 states and our Ahearn Fund staff. As Dr. Schulz mentioned, I am very proud in the fact that from day one they have been K-State facilities. They have been K-State facilities from the fact that they have been first class, they have been practical, fiscally responsible and they have been versatile. This facility right here is going to extremely versatile for us. We have had a long ago need, and there were plans in my office from 2009, because the old football practice fields had that crown. These were all crowned fields and West Virginia is the last school in our conference with a crowned field. They are scraping their crown field off after the 2015 season, so these football fields were archaic in that they had that old crown on them. So they really needed to be rebuilt. The ability to do this project in a shared manner where we will have a primary competition field for soccer and then a shared practice space where it can fit an entire grass soccer field then also the ability to put one and a half grass football fields on that practice space is again very practical and a very K-State-oriented type project. Having the grass surface for our football program, as well as our soccer program will help us prepare for those grass fields in our conference like TCU, Oklahoma and Iowa State. From a soccer standpoint, we went to coach Dibbini and we said `we think, we may, sort of play matches in Memorial Stadium, it is an artificial surface, we're not quite sure what do you think' and he said, `that sounds fine, I want the job.' As we got into it a bit, we asked, `what if we had a grass field' and he said `that would be better, that would be much better.' So we are going to have great versatility for our soccer program because in addition to having grass here, we have some artificial grass opponents in the Big 12 Conference -- Iowa State and Texas Tech -- and some of the schools in the upper north and back east play on artificial surfaces. Here at K-State again, we have got an incredible building originally built for football that is a practice field for a number of sports. We have a big outfield right over here at baseball that we could practice soccer on and if football has to be over there on that grass field, soccer can go over to Bill Snyder Family Stadium. We are going to use our things the right way and operate in a fiscally responsible manner, give our student-athletes a first class opportunity and last but not least for those baseball fans in attendance, this facility here and eventually have the ability to construct a stadium here - the space you are standing in -- we envision with our architects, DLR Architects, we have to remind DLR that we have a budget because they can envision a lot, but we envision over time the space you're standing in being transformed into a shared plaza between our baseball park and our soccer stadium and then that also enables us to have dual use of facilities like restrooms and concessions stands. Later on down the road, we will have some enhancements to get people from the parking lot to this area. We hope to have a turn in lane for people to drop people off at the baseball stadium. We have some ideas, some pretty significant ideas, for an enhanced baseball stadium. We are going to do it together, we are going to do it for all 440 of our student-athletes, for all 16 of our sports. We are going to compete for Big 12 Championships. Coach Dibbini has guaranteed one by 2019. He said 2017, but we said you should give yourself a little bit of cushion. We appreciate everyone for making these fields possible. I see a lot of people here today that have made K-State very special. Thank you very much and Go Cats!"        

K-State women's soccer head coach Mike Dibbini
"I am still sweating John. 2017, we will be okay. First of all, I wanted to say thank you for being here today. I want to thank everyone for their full support. The first five months have been a grind and a little bit of a whirlwind, but Gabe and I have been hitting the road pretty hard with recruiting and so on. Everybody has been very hospitable to my family and I and I wanted to take a few seconds to recognize my wife, Trina, and my kids Jada and Kadin. I also want to recognize my assistant coach Gabe Romo. I want to take this time to thank some people that are here today. Noel and President Kirk Schulz for their full support of this venue that we will have at K-State for the soccer program and obviously the football practice field. We are very excited to have this, so thank you very much. I want to thank John Currie for his full support from day one. I also want to thank Lindsey Babcock for keeping me organized and for putting me in my place and supporting myself and Coach Romo especially the first weeks when I first started. I was summoned for jury duty the first two weeks I was on the job and I actually had to serve, so thank you for your help. It has been an interesting first five months. I also want to thank the K-State administration for their full support. Everyone, the support staff, the Catbackers that have been around and have helped us get things going. We are very excited about the opportunity. We are excited about the program and we are excited about the roster we are putting together so we can be competitive and we can take care of business by 2019. This project is such an impact for the soccer community and this truly shows the commitment from the athletic department here at K-State and this is just really exciting news. Like John said, I wanted the job and I wanted to get out here and take care of business. Having a Bermuda field for the soccer athletes, just the smell and just the natural feel to the field, is just incredible. Having the stadium and the lighting and the scoreboard, it is just a home and our student-athletes will have a first class experience and our fans will have a first class experience with the future of the plaza and so on. I want to again thank the athletic department and John Currie for putting this together. Thank you for coming out and we are excited to compete in the future here with K-State women's soccer. Go Cats!"