Upgrades coming to Flagler Field

First phase to include more visible entrance, and parking lot paving

By Richard Harris

Flagler field will undergo a $150,000 project this summer to improve the form and function of the facility.

The upgrade will be just one phase of a larger plan to bring the facility up to par with other institutions.

The impressions derived from the poorly marked entrance and unpaved parking lot have always been troubling to college president, William T. Abare, Jr., who admitted to almost cringing when driving into the complex.

“I was always struck by the difference in appearance between the athletic field and the campus,” Abare said. “Every time I’ve gone out there, I’ve given [the project] consideration.”

Although Abare admits the overall aesthetics of the field bothered him, he said it was more of a functional issue.

“I was in the gym working out when a visiting [soccer] team came in to shower,” he said. “I thought, what are they doing over here showering? The answer was pretty obvious. They don’t have any showers out there at the athletic field.”

It was a generous donation by a trustee that eventually sparked action. David Drysdale made a contribution to name the baseball field for his deceased father, who was a well known player of the sport.

In preparation for the dedication ceremony, Abare wanted to do something about the appearance of the field, ultimately setting aside money in the college budget to improve the entrance.

Abare hired a landscape architect who aided in his decision to engage an engineer and contractor to complete the first phase.

This phase will include creating a more visible entrance, paving the parking lot, and improving landscaping on the property. Abare is hopeful that phase one of the project will be completed in time for the 2006 soccer season.

The second phase of the project will be contingent on funding and will involve the construction of a field house.

Abare has earmarked $267,000 in the college’s budget to go toward the project. The college would be responsible for raising the difference between that amount and the total estimated cost of the building.

With the project costing roughly $160 per square foot, the scale of the building will be contingent on the amount of money raised.

Abare said the building would be designed in a modular fashion to allow for additions as more funding becomes available.

The building would first contain showers, changing facilities and a training room.

“A lot of this,” Abare said, “was driven by our decision to go NCAA. We’re going to be competing against some pretty high quality schools. I want to make sure our facilities match up with their facilities.”

Last summer the gym locker rooms were updated at a cost of roughly $800,000.

“Anytime I spend any money, whether it’s for locker rooms or for classrooms I have to look at the positives and negatives, and look at the priorities,” Abare said.

Next year, Abare said the school would probably spend $300,000 more on its athletic program than it did this year.

Flagler may also be required to add another sport. Acceptance in to the Sunshine State Conference could require the addition of a women’s softball team. Abare included the construction of a softball field in an early rendering of the Flagler field project.

Abare explained that the projects taking place at the field complex are necessary for the college, regardless of sport division.

“What I’m doing right now in terms of facilities I would have done anyway, whether it’s NCAA or NAIA,” Abare said.

“We all take pride in our institution. Whatever we can do to improve the appearance of the campus, that’s what we want to do,” he said.

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