Butler Bowl changes funded through donations

Less than a year ago, the Butler Bowl was a source of embarrassment for the Bulldogs.
The Bowl is now a source of pride after recent renovations to the press box and grand stands.
“We want our athletes, our alumni and friends to have pride in how we present ourselves,” Butler University President Bobby Fong said. “Given the condition of the original bowl, it wasn’t a source of pride.”
Fong said that when he came to Butler 2001, the stadium was just the remnants of what had been built in 1928.
“There was a bank of empty stands that nobody could sit on because the concrete had deteriorated to the point where it was dangerous,” he said.
Fong said the project was funded largely through the ButlerRising campaign, which was a campaign to improve Butler’s human capital through receiving monetary donations.
“We were able to collect money for the turf field as part of our campaign,” he said. “Then as part of our public phase we were able to accumulate additional money that took care of the stands and paid for what was meant to be a much more modest press box.”
The project cost $2.5 million with roughly $1.2 million coming from the campaign.
The rest of the money came out of the athletic’s fund.
The landscaping that went along with the construction was a separate project, Mike Gardner, Vice President of Operations, said.
It was funded through the university’s operating budget.
“The decision was made to use additional contributions from the athletic revenues to expand the project, and that’s what you see today,” Fong said.
He said to raise the money, the school targeted people who might have an “intersection” with the project.
“Part of what we do in fundraising is try to talk about the university and ask individual donors where their own interests lie in terms of leaving a legacy,” he said. “As in all campaigns, we try to put out projects that are important to the university and that may draw people with a personal interest.”
Craig Hardee, the construction manager for the project, said the stadium will be complete in time for the first home football game on Saturday.
Hardee said the renovations were a little rough going at first.
“For a project with this type and amount of masonry, it has been completed in rapid fashion taking into account the considerable weather delays in the beginning,” he said. “We had 49 rain days in April, May and June.
“Then we had 57 days over 90 degrees this summer.”
Hardee said that the renovations have been needed for years.
He said the end product makes for a very comprehensive design.
“It is a building befitting of its location, being both responsive and supporting of Hinkle and respecting its architectural history,” he said.
The stadium is also befitting of something else.
“It seems like we needed a stadium that would live up to the increasing competitiveness of our sports teams, and I think we’ve reached that point,” Fong said. “I know the football and soccer teams are very excited about what’s been done.
“It’s a better experience for them as student athletes.”
Hardee believes it will help in the recruiting process as well.
“For athletics, it will be a great recruiting tool as well as be a wonderful home stadium for football and soccer games,” he said.
Claire Milam, a sophomore on the Butler women’s soccer team, said that the improved stadium definitely helps to bring pride to Butler athletics.
“The stadium does make me feel proud to be a Butler athlete,” she said. “When we have other teams come to our home field, we’re excited that we have such a wonderful facility to play on.”

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