The multi-sport turf field at Central Maine Community College in Auburn is taking shape in this aerial photo from Monday afternoon August 5, 2019. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Bates College and Central Maine Community College are expanding their respective athletic facilities and upgrading their equipment and playing surfaces to enhance the student experience and help draw in new recruits. 

CMCC is making the most dramatic improvement, a new $3 million athletic facility with artificial turf that includes a baseball, softball and soccer field.

The facility will be ready in three weeks. It will feature dugouts, bullpens, bleachers and at lights. The soccer field will be in the middle of the baseball and softball fields without touching either infield. 

“I think it is going to change, not just the image of the college, but the collegiality of the college,” CMCC athletic director David Gonyea said. 

Gonyea said the Auburn school is striving to reach to a new level athletically and as a school.

“Our expectations are higher and we want to do better,” Gonyea said. “When we have a $3 million facility, we want to do well. I think the coaches and players get that message. We are excited to see that turf put down.”

UPGRADES AT BATES

When he became Bates’ athletic director two years ago, Jason Fein looked at what the Lewiston school had in place so he could pick places to upgrade. 

This summer, multiple areas were targeted for improvements.

After upgrading Alumni Gymnasium and the conference room attached to it in 2018, Bates went to work on the lobby in front of the gymnasium this year.

Bates College has added a modular turf system in Underhill Arena, the first surface besides ice to cover the arena’s concrete. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Fein also noticed that Underhill Arena, Bates’ hockey rink, wasn’t being used outside of the winter, and he wanted to change that.

“In the spring and summer, it hasn’t been utilized to the maximum capacity,” Fein said. “We got a turf down in there which we can use as an indoor performance when it’s not winter. Outside of winter, it’s a sectional turf that can be taken down a couple times a year. It’s good to have another indoor practice space.”

Fein said he expects the the space will be used as a practice spot for the Bobcats’ baseball, softball and lacrosse teams as well as the school’s club sports teams.

Bates has also made upgrades to Merrill Indoor Gymnasium, to include more room for its sports medicine staff to work on athletes, as well as rehabilitation space for student-athletes. 

“In Merrill, we converted a piece of an old locker room, basically knocked down a wall in the training room,” Fein said. “We have 31 teams and that room was built 30 years ago when training was not what it was today.

“It has another couple weeks, but the floor is down; we need to put pipes in, but that will more than double our sports medicine and rehab space.”

Turf will be added to the new area inside Merrill which will help athletes get their legs back under them and also help students in the sports medicine field practice their craft. 

“Rehab and training purposes, it will be great,” Fein said. “In the weight room, the trainers are in there with the athletes. As far as sprints and things you need for turf, they won’t have to leave the arena. … We have a lot of green space, but a shortage of green fields.”

The fourth and final item on Bates’ summer agenda was to add natural turf to the soccer field on the Russell Street.

‘ON THE MOVE’

Gonyea says CMCC will be able to broadcast games from its new facility as well as host baseball and softball tournaments. The new esports arena that the school has built in Kirk Hall for the fall is also a part of the $3 million estimation. 

“Our college is on the move,” Gonyea said. “I know it’s cliche, but it is. Our school is back on the growth pattern, the enrollment is increasing, the demand and competition is motivating us to offer more, provide more, and I think students are responding. Our country recruitment is going well and Maine kids are picking us as their number one school.”

CMCC has also installed new bleachers in Kirk Hall, the basketball gym, as well as a giant television screen and light system. 

Gonyea said the primary goal is for the new facilities and the upgrades to existing ones are enough for CMCC to continue to bring in stronger and stronger recruits.

“I think it’s going to be a major recruiting attraction,” Gonyea said. “I think when people see it, it’s overwhelming. You’re greeted by a giant facility that in three weeks will be lit up. It changes the campus and it puts us in the arena with any school in Maine. Bates has nothing different than we do.

“Even though you take Maine away, I am not sure who has turf fields, but that’s the competition game you have to play. Students and faculty are excited and everyone is turned onto what a difference it will make for our campus.”

The multi-sport turf field at Central Maine Community College in Auburn is taking shape in this aerial photo from Monday afternoon August 5, 2019. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

The multi-sport turf field at Central Maine Community College in Auburn is taking shape in this aerial photo from Monday afternoon August 5, 2019. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal


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