Illinois Director of Athletics Josh Whitman announced plans for the construction of a new soccer and track and field facility Wednesday afternoon.
The facility, Demirjian Park, will open in 2019 and be completed in 2021.
"This is really a great day for Illini athletics,” Whitman said at a Wednesday press conference. “We spend a lot of time on Illinois football and men's basketball, but we have hundreds of student-athletes in 19 other sports."
The facility will include two new soccer fields, and it will be located east of the existing track and field complex on campus.
“State-of-the-art amenities will include locker rooms, video and meeting rooms, lounge and study spaces, sports medicine and nutrition facilities, and coaches’ offices,” according to the press release.
The need has definitely been there for a while. There are currently no on-site locker rooms for Illinois soccer, and soccer and track and field have shared a facility since soccer’s inception at the University in 1997.
The Demirjian family, including UI alumni Richard Demirjian and Kara Demirijain-Huss, provided over $7 million to the project. They provided the lead gift for the Demirjian Indoor Golf Practice Facility’s construction in 2007.
“We work on these projects trying to find intersections between our need and donor interest,” Whitman said. “This is a perfect example of those coming together and getting great results.”
Illinois will host the 2021 Big Ten Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
Whitman made one excellent point today in his press conference. We’ll admit, we're guilty of this, and we focus a lot on Illinois football and men’s basketball at The Champaign Room, but there are hundreds of athletes doing amazing things at Illinois, and today’s news will benefit 25 percent of them.
“There's an opportunity to show people that (the University of) Illinois pursues excellence in everything,” Whitman said. “We can't be selective about where to be the best, and athletics is a great opportunity for us to demonstrate that in a very visible way.
“We will be the best at what we do.”