AURORA – Those who love the summer don’t want to see it end, but softball players and soccer and lacrosse athletes at Aurora University are excited for fall and next spring because of the opening of a new athletic complex.
Situated on approximately 90 acres in Montgomery just south of the main university campus, the new Spartan Athletic Park complex will feature a softball field with a standard dirt infield as well as a turf outfield, a stadium to practice and play lacrosse and soccer games as well as locker room facilities and substantial parking.
“It should be great and the nice thing is that it’s only about a half mile away from campus, which isn’t bad at all,” said Austin Cohen, a lacrosse player who previously played in high school at St. Charles North. “Our previous field on turf was getting run down and some guys, including myself, had ACL injuries so it was time for a new field. I’m pretty excited for it, and it’s going to be so nice with the locker rooms right under the field, and I know the softball and baseball players are pretty excited too.”
The baseball players will have to be a little more patient since their field is part of the second phase of the estimated $18 million project. The second part of the project not only includes the new baseball field, but also a track and field area, tennis courts, indoor practice facility and more. That phase isn’t scheduled to begin until the spring of 2018.
Kaneland graduate Jacob Bachio heads into his junior baseball season next spring but knows that during his senior year he’ll be playing on a new field. He’s definitely not looking past next spring, but he is also excited about what lies ahead in 2019.
“It’s going to be really cool and all the guys are excited for it,” he said. “It’ll be nice to have our own field and this will be good for the future of the program. It’s good that AU is getting its own baseball complex so we’re excited for it.”
The athletic park is located on the south side of Jericho Road near the intersection with Edgelawn Drive on Montgomery’s north side.
While the new baseball stadium won’t be ready until 2019, the softball field and the multi-sport stadium for soccer and lacrosse, and potentially football as well, should be ready to go soon.
“I drove out there recently because I wanted to see the progress and it looks really cool so I’m very excited for it,” said Lauren Wencewicz, who played softball at Batavia High School and will be a sophomore at Aurora University next spring. “When I was looking at colleges I heard they were going to build a new field so that ended up helping me make my decision to go there.”
The total cost of the project will be about $40 million, which is being funded through private donations over the course of 10 years.
“This is a facility that prospective students are going to be wowed by,” said Jim Hamad, athletic director at Aurora University. “As our teams have done better and better, we’ve attracted more and more students. This will really show students from around the country what we can provide in terms of competition space.”
In the interim, Aurora University has been playing its softball and baseball games at the Stuart Sports Complex, which is owned by the Fox Valley Park District.
“We have been doing really well in the world of athletics, despite the fact that some of our teams have been using third-party fields,” said Steven McFarland, vice president for Aurora University communications. “We thought it was time to have a centralized home for the Spartans.”
And that new home is opening soon.