Lawrence University broke ground Wednesday on the new Team Complex at Ron Roberts Field at the Banta Bowl.
The new building, scheduled to open this fall, covers nearly 4,700 square feet to accommodate multiple Lawrence teams, and visiting teams as well.
“This is an exciting day for Lawrence as we continue our efforts to update and expand our athletics facilities," Lawrence President Laurie Carter said. "The construction of these beautiful locker rooms at Banta Bowl—and the adjoining patio to gather and build team spirit—comes as we are rebuilding our track and field facilities, updating our tennis courts, and preparing to launch men’s and women’s lacrosse. We are immensely proud of our student-athletes and all they bring to Lawrence, and we are thrilled to be strengthening athletics programs in ways that will enhance the experience for current and future Lawrentians.”
The Team Complex will be built into the hillside on the west side of the Banta Bowl, across the plaza from the Gilboy Athletic Center. The project manager is Rettler Corporation with design work done by Kahler Slater. J.H. Findorff and Son Inc. is handling the construction.
"Today is another exciting day for Lawrence athletics," Director of Athletics Jason Imperati said. "We wanted this space to serve our student-athletes in a variety of ways, and I believe the design team at Kahler Slater did a tremendous job of listening and providing us with exactly what we needed. We will have two new locker rooms that will be utilized by our soccer and lacrosse programs as well as a large multi-purpose area, which our teams can utilize for meeting and educational space."
The Team Complex will house locker rooms for Lawrence men's and women's soccer during the fall season. Both home locker rooms will have 42 wooden lockers, and both spaces will have restrooms and shower rooms. Those locker room spaces will serve as the home to Lawrence men's and women's lacrosse when those teams begin play in the winter/spring of 2025.
Adjacent to the home locker rooms are two multi-purpose rooms separated by a movable partition. That space provides flexible meeting space for the Vikings, can be opened up to house a visiting football team or separated into two spaces when the Vikings host a men's and women's soccer or men's and women's lacrosse event on the same day. The Team Complex has an officials' room, storage spaces, and a mechanical room.
The Team Complex also features an outdoor component with the President's Plaza. The President's Plaza is a 32x38-foot covered area with a large television so fans can see a live feed of the game or as a site for teams to watch game film.
The exterior of the Team Complex features finishes that complement the Gilboy Center by incorporating the same masonry, wood, and translucent panels.
"Once the facility comes online, we hope to be able to host larger outside community events with our eye on WIAA football or soccer playoffs or other state championships," Imperati said. "I know I speak for all our student-athletes and staff when I say we are so thankful to receive this support from the administration and it is a great day to be a Viking."
This is phase two of the renovation of Ron Roberts Field at the Banta Bowl. The stadium, which opened for play in 1965 with new head football coach Ron Roberts in charge of the Vikings, underwent major changes in the spring and summer of 2015. The renovations began with raising the level of the playing field to make the surface wide enough for a soccer pitch. The natural grass field was replaced with FieldTurf to allow for more and varied use of the stadium.
The concrete structure that houses the grandstands was retained but new aluminum bleachers were put in place to create a capacity of 3,634. The plaza at the north end of the stadium was added, and the Gilboy Center was constructed next to the plaza. The Gilboy Center houses the locker room for Lawrence football, concessions, restrooms, ticketing, and storage. A new LED scoreboard was installed beyond the south end zone in 2015, and a spacious new press box was completed in 2018.
The Team Complex is the second athletics facilities project currently underway. A complete renovation of the Whiting Field track began in fall 2022 when the track was razed and all the infrastructure work completed. Work resumed on the project in late April and is set to be completed in late summer.
The nine-lane track features a Beynon BSS1000 full pour polyurethane surface in the dark blue color of Lawrence athletics. The grass infield will house the throws area for discus, hammer throw, and shot put on one end of the field and javelin and high jump on the other end. The area north of the track will be for long jump, triple jump, and pole vault with four pits for jumping and two runways for vaulting.
Whiting Field has served as the home of Lawrence track and field teams since 1925 and football was played on the field through the 1964 season.
A third project also will take place this summer when the Lawrence Courts, the six-court lighted facility along the north bank of the Fox River, are completely renovated. Plans call for the courts to be completely razed and replaced with a new asphalt base and playing surface. Lawrence tennis, which has been playing tennis along the river since the 1930s, opens its fall season in September.
The first fall 2023 event on Ron Roberts Field at the Banta Bowl will be Lawrence women's soccer, which opens its season on Sept. 1 when the Vikings host Concordia University Wisconsin. Lawrence football has its first home game on Sept. 16 when the Vikings take on Cornell College.