Soccer, track stadium named
Donors Stuart and Suzanne Grant name Delaware Mini Stadium with generous gift
9:03 a.m., Feb. 18, 2014--Delaware Mini Stadium in the University of Delaware’s Department of Athletics and Recreation Services will now be known as the Stuart and Suzanne Grant Stadium.
The stadium is being renamed in recognition of UD Trustee Stuart M. Grant and his wife, Suzanne B. Grant, who generously made a recent $1.5 million commitment to support renovations to the facility.
This history-making gift is the largest single donation made by an individual or couple to be allocated in support of a UD Athletics facility project.
“I am so grateful for the Grants’ historic gift,” says UD President Patrick T. Harker. “Their enthusiasm for UD is evident in all they do. From cheering on our athletic teams, to serving on the Board of Trustees, to financially supporting a wide range of campus needs and priorities, Stuart and Suzanne have been resolute in their commitment to our University. With this gift, they join a select group of supporters whose dedication and generosity to Blue Hen Athletics is forever linked to the UD facility that bears their names.”
Located just east of Delaware Stadium, the renamed Stuart and Suzanne Grant Stadium is home to the UD men’s and women’s soccer teams and the women’s outdoor track and field program.
“We’re pretty serious about our soccer,” admits Stuart Grant, whose soccer-loving family celebrated his 50th birthday with a trip to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Three of the Grants’ children play soccer, and Stuart Grant not only played and coached soccer, he also refereed games around the world, including the NCAA women’s soccer championship tournaments in 1982 and 1983.
In fact, the Grants say it is love for the game and their deep admiration for UD men’s soccer head coach, Ian Hennessy, that drove them to make their most recent gift.
“Ian does a marvelous job on the field, but also really stands for everything that we like to see in student-athletes off the field,” says Grant. “How many schools can say they have a coach who has earned a doctorate in molecular biology from an Ivy League institution? How many university presidents have received a call from their soccer coach saying, ‘I’d like to teach a class?’ Ian is a really good guy.”
“You know as one grows older, one tends to reflect on what is important in life, and come to appreciate that it is relationships and the shared human experience that is most prized,” says Hennessy. “Both Stuart and I share two very important relationships: our love for UD and our love for the sport of soccer. Suzanne may not want to hear me say this but, like me, soccer was probably Stuart’s first love, and it hasn't dimmed over the years. Now, later on in life, it is our passion for UD that we share. Stuart has forged his family's legacy, yet again, with this great institution with the renovation of this stadium. We are thrilled to have him as a continued part of our soccer family.”
The Grant family’s passion for soccer and for UD is what has allowed them to identify the potential impact that renovations to the existing stadium could achieve. Prior upgrades were made to the facility in 2000, 2011, and in 2013, including the installation of a natural Bermuda grass playing surface, a drainage and irrigation system to maintain the new field and a new Benyon all-weather track. But, there remained a clear need for further renovations.
“There was a real feeling that additional renovations to the stadium would assist the soccer and track programs in their overall recruitment efforts,” says Grant, “while at the same time allowing the University to better promote awareness of these wonderful programs to a much larger audience.”
UD Athletics will use the Grants’ gift to complete a more extensive stadium renovation. Plans include increasing both the comfort-level and number of available seats by replacing the current bleachers with upgraded and extended spectator seating, which will expand the stadium’s seating capacity to 1,400, including a number of handicapped-accessible seats. To improve spectator sightlines and allow for storage underneath, the new bleachers will be elevated.
Other improvements include the installation of a new sound system and the construction of a tower platform for film and television crews, the latter to be built atop a new 48-foot, climate-controlled press box that will be able to accommodate 24 people.
According to Eric Ziady, director of athletics and recreation services, the goal of the renovations is to position the Grant Stadium as a first-class facility and the premiere natural grass soccer venue in the Mid-Atlantic region.
The stadium renovation, scheduled for completion by the start of the upcoming soccer season, is just the latest in a series of athletic facility improvement projects initiated by UD Athletics to enhance the experience of its student-athletes and the comfort of its fans.
Other recent projects include major renovations to the Bob Hannah Baseball Stadium due to be completed in March, the transformation of the Delaware Field House to a premier indoor practice facility, a 45,000-square-foot expansion and renovation of the Carpenter Sports Building and the resurfacing the soccer practice fields with Bermuda grass.
“Outstanding facilities are essential to the growth and cultivation of exceptional athletic programs,” says Ziady. “UD is consistently demonstrating its commitment to this principle, with considerable progress being made over the past year. I’m particularly excited that this project, coupled with the summer 2013 resurfacing of the soccer practice fields, is allowing us to raise the profile and shine a much-deserved spotlight on our talented soccer programs. I know the players, coaches and fans of Blue Hen soccer join me in thanking Stuart and Suzanne Grant for their significant investment and the positive impact their generosity will have on our programs in the years ahead.”
Stuart Grant is co-founder and managing director of the Wilmington law firm Grant & Eisenhofer. In addition to his role as a UD Trustee and donor, Grant also volunteers his time advising students and helping them to secure meaningful internships. In fact, Grant himself is a UD student. He recently began his tenth semester as a part-time student in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Pursuant to another passion shared by the Grant family horses and horse racing his studies focus on animal science. In December 2012 the Grants gave a $1 million gift to UD for the establishment of an equine studies minor.
“We hope our giving inspires others to give, whether to athletics or to some other passion they hold,” says Grant. “UD is an extraordinary and diverse place. Whatever a donor’s passion is, UD has a place to express it. We hope others will be inspired to express and support their passions as we have expressed and supported ours.”
Article by Shannon Pote
Photo by Evan Krape