Cornell’s Department of Athletics and Physical Education announced plans to build a new athletics facility, the Meinig Fieldhouse, on Friday, Oct. 20. The 91,950 square foot facility will be erected on the existing athletics fields behind Bartels and Weill Hall and will be used for men’s and women’s lacrosse competitions, as well as training and skills development for all athletes regardless of varsity status.
Construction is expected to begin in Fall 2024, with a grand opening planned for 2026, and comes with an estimated $55 million price tag. Cornell has already raised $32.5 million through a core group of benefactors, and the University is actively acquiring the more than $20 million remaining. The University itself allocated $4 million to the project in its budget plan for the 2023 fiscal year.
In an effort to close the gap, the University has paired with anonymous donors to create a $10 million challenge match fund to encourage donor support for the project. Gifts of $250,000 or more will be matched until the funds have been exhausted, according to the Cornell Chronicle.
The eponymous Peter C. Meinig ’61, who died in 2017, served as chair of the Board of Trustees and was an involved university benefactor. Meinig and his family also endowed the Nancy E. and Peter C. Meinig School of Biomedical Engineering with a $50 million gift in 2015, as well as the Meinig Family Cornell National Scholars Program in 1999.
Eli Fastiff ’26, president of broadcasting at Big Red Sports Network, noted that the new facility will be helpful in keeping the University’s sports competitive not only in play but also in recruitment.
“I am really excited about the new facility because it allows our teams to play and practice year-round, which will help us stay competitive when recruiting athletes in lacrosse, along with any other sports that will make use of the facility,” Fastiff said.
But Fastiff noted that the facility’s best feature might be its location –– within easy walking distance from classes and dorms.
“I am most excited about the fact that [the facility] will be on campus,” Fastiff said. “The decisions to move multiple sports facilities off campus –– most recently the replacement of centrally located Hoy Field with far away Booth Field –– has hurt student fan engagement.”
In a statement to the Cornell Chronicle, President Martha Pollack highlighted the plans as an investment in Cornellians.
“The new Meinig Fieldhouse will significantly enhance the opportunities available to our students to participate in both varsity athletics and recreational sports,” Pollack said. “I am delighted to be making this important investment in our students’ opportunities for leadership and well-being.”
The Boston-based architecture firm Sasaki Associates has released initial design plans, which show the sleek one-story structure that will include an indoor 120-by-60-yard turf field, scoreboard, spectator area and storage spaces. The firm previously worked on the Ithaca Commons Redesign.
“This will be amazing for intramural sports teams relying on outdoor spaces to play that are often rained out or snowy for most of the academic year,” said Aitan Avgar ’26, who plays for Soulja Boy FC, an intramural soccer team.
Nicki Moore, the Meakem Smith Director of Athletics and Physical Education, affirmed the athletics program’s aspirations for the new facility in the Cornell Chronicle.
“The Meinig Fieldhouse offers the opportunity to truly pursue greatness and to make a serious investment in wellness and competitive excellence on the campus,” Moore said.