Construction of Roberts Stadium for soccer begins
Princeton University has begun construction of a new, state-of-the-art soccer stadium, made possible through a recent $8.4 million fundraising effort by alumni and friends of Princeton soccer.
The new facility, slated to open for the 2008 season, will be named Roberts Stadium in honor of Thomas S. Roberts, a member of the class of 1985 and a former record-holding goalkeeper on the men's soccer team. He and his wife, Kristen, were the leading donors to the project.
"We are grateful to the friends of Princeton soccer for their generosity that will allow us to build a splendid new stadium, worthy of our soccer players and the great tradition they represent in Princeton athletics," said President Shirley M. Tilghman.
The new facility, designed by Anderson Architects of New York, will be located on the site of the current venue on the south end of campus west of Washington Road. It will feature a three-sided stadium, a playing field with a natural grass surface and an adjacent practice field with an artificial surface. The practice field, to be called Plummer Field, has been separately funded by an anonymous donor. Three free-standing pavilions will house a ticket office, press box, concession stand, team rooms, restrooms and other facilities. The stadium will have a 3,000-person capacity, and the playing field will be lighted for night games. The new complex is part of Princeton's overall campus planning initiative to create pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods within the campus community.
"Playing soccer at Princeton was a great experience for me, and I am honored that we are able to give back to a program -- and a sport -- that means so much to our family," said Roberts of Wellesley, Mass. "The construction of the new soccer facility is a dream come true for anyone who has supported or participated in Princeton soccer. The program enjoys a great tradition of excellence, and my hope is that this gift will help enhance that tradition for future players."
The new playing field will be named in memory of Robert Hauter Myslik '90, a soccer player, teacher and former assistant Princeton soccer coach who was killed in an automobile accident in 2003. Many friends and colleagues were inspired to join in the fundraising effort by a gift from the Myslik family, which includes his brother-in-law and sister, Andrew B. and Melora Myslik Balson, both of the class of 1988; his father, Robert J. Myslik '61; his mother and stepfather, Barbara Hauter Woodward and J. Taylor Woodward III '62; and his widow, Susan Bogue Myslik. In 2004, the Robert Hauter Myslik '90 Memorial Men's Soccer Award was established by J. Taylor Woodward III and Barbara Hauter Woodward.
Major support for the stadium also came from Andrea and John H. Laporte Jr. '67, who was a member of the soccer team. Their challenge pledge resulted in $2 million in new gifts to the effort.
In all, more than 40 alumni and friends contributed to the funding of the stadium, including 20 alumni from the classes of 1978 to 1988, spearheaded by the strong volunteer leadership of former Friends of Princeton Soccer President Charles V. Stillitano Jr. '81.
"Thanks to the generous leadership and shared vision of the Roberts, Myslik and Laporte families, as well as many other alumni, Princeton's men and women soccer players will now be able to perform in a stadium that matches their abilities and reflects Princeton's commitment to the role that athletics can play in the holistic education of its student-athletes," said Director of Athletics Gary D. Walters.
Princeton soccer can claim many achievements over the past decades: The women's team appeared in six straight NCAA tournaments from 1999 to 2004, and won four of five Ivy League titles from 2000 to 2004. The men's team, which has won six Ivy League Championships, has seen 13 players achieve All-America status.
"There is such great renewed excitement and energy in our program, now that the stadium project has become a reality. We are so grateful for the incredible generosity and support from the many people who have made this project possible, and we are eager to put a great team in a great stadium," said James M. Barlow, head men's soccer coach. Julie C. Shackford, head women's soccer coach, said, "The new stadium will enable the men's and women's teams to continue to attract the best student-athletes in the country and compete at the highest levels in Division I soccer."