LIU Post has the initial funding in place to begin an $8 million renovation of Hickox Field, which houses the university's football, men's and women's lacrosse and field hockey teams, school officials said. Construction on the initial phase is scheduled to begin by winter and be completed by the fall of 2013.
Bryan Collins, Post's athletic director and football coach, said the university has secured $3 million of the $4.5 needed to compete the first phase.
"The university has given us $1.2 million, we raised $1.8," he said. Naming rights for the facility, set at $1.5 million, are up for bid but will not hold up the project, Collins said.
The first priority will be new seating. The plan would create chair back seating for an estimated 1,500 spectators. There will be additional new bleacher seating to accommodate 3,000 spectators, which would replace the current aluminum bleachers that have been in place since Hickox was built in 1964. Plans also call for VIP suites, a press box and extensive landscaping to blend in with the campus. FieldTurf has previously replaced the worn-out grass on the playing surface.
The second phase will include new locker rooms, additional concession stands, improvements to the field house and an alumni pavilion. Other improvements, including a new weight training facility, are expected as additional funds become available.
Fundraising, which started last September, has been boosted by football alumnus William Nuti, the CEO of National Cash Register, a Fortune 500 company. Nuti, a resident of St. James, is a member of LIU's board of trustees. Nuti has given a sizable donation toward the project, LIU provost Paul Forestell said.
"There's a chunk that's coming out of my pocket," Nuti said. "But it's a small percentage in the grand scheme of things. It's not a million dollars. I'm in the process of raising funds and looking for corporate sponsors. We have several people who are interested. It's a big deal for Long Island, it's a big deal for Long Island football."
Collins said the upgraded facility is expected to be made available for high school championship games in several sports.
Ed Cinelli, the executive director of Suffolk athletics, said, "We would welcome any facilities on Long Island that could host our regionals."
"I know that Nassau definitely would be interested in using the venue," said Joyce Badger, Nassau assistant executive director for girls athletics. "We have in the past and I'm sure an upgrade would be even better."
Nuti's vision is for Post to one day elevate from Division II to D-I in football, but Collins said the facility upgrade does not signal a change in philosophy. "We're realistic in our aspirations," he said. "We're looking for something that beautifies the existing size we have now, not toward anything grander."