October 1, 2013— The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System approved the renovation plan for David Smith Stadium at Ramer Filed at the Sept. 6 Regents' meeting. Following approval of the State Building Commission, which is expected at their Oct. 16 meeting, construction bids will be sought for the portion of the renovation that will take place in 2014 at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.
The plan calls for the replacement of the west side press box with a new structure that will include coaches boxes, a VIP room, ticketing, and a new entrance. Provision for a new concession stand and additional restrooms is part of this phase. As part of the Falcon Center project, the natural grass playing surface will be replaced with an artificial turf playing surface.
"The 2014 renovation upgrades planned for Ramer Field will undoubtedly enhance the student athlete, alumni and fan experience," said UWRF Athletic Director Roger Ternes. "These new facilities will also have a profound impact on the recruitment and retention of quality students and on the public pride in the university."
The renovation of the football stadium, built in the 1960s, was first announced in 2007. The university received a lead gift from First National Bank of River Falls and the family of late bank President David Smith to rename the facility as the David Smith Stadium at Ramer Field. At the time, UWRF students also committed a portion of student fees to the project. The original plan called for a four phase, $4 million renovation.
Additional fundraising for the project was delayed due to leadership changes for the university, the UW-River Falls Foundation, and the Department of Athletics. The effort was revived in 2012 under the leadership of Chancellor Dean Van Galen, UWRF Foundation President Chris Mueller and Ternes. A steering committee was formed to consider renovation plans.
Earlier this year, the State Building Commission approved the retention of Lien Peterson Architects of Eau Claire to design the project. Recently, major new commitments have been received from the School District of River Falls and Shannon and Angel Zimmerman of River Falls.
"The commitment of the School District of River Falls and the Zimmerman family has been a key catalyst in giving this project a new momentum," said Van Galen. "I want to especially recognize recently retired School Superintendent Tom Westerhaus and the SDRF School Board for their partnership. I also want to express deep appreciation to First National Bank and the Smith family for making this project possible in the first place."
The 2014 renovation is budgeted at $1.9 million, of which more than $300,000 still needs to be raised. Following completion of this phase, future renovations will replace the west and east grandstands and complete the additional restrooms to comply with building code.
"The renovation of Smith Stadium at Ramer Field has languished for too long," said Mueller. "While we still have to raise more money to pay for the project, there was never going to be a better time to make the renovation a reality,"
Donors may also purchase an engraved brick for the west side of the stadium, a joint campaign of the UWRF Foundation and the School District of River Falls. Naming opportunities are also available. Gifts can be made to the project via the UWRF Foundation by calling 715-425-3505 or through the website at https://www.uwrfgiving.com.
On Saturday, Oct. 12, as part of Homecoming weekend, the university is hosting a tailgate at Ramer Field to unveil the plans for the renovated stadium. The tailgate will be held in the Ramer Field Pavilion beginning at 11:30 a.m. Tickets are $8 for lunch and can be bought at the gate. Kickoff for the Homecoming game versus UW-Platteville is at 1 p.m. For more information on the tailgate, contact the UW-River Falls Special Events Office at email@example.com or 715-425-3545.
Photos: Exterior and interior architectural renderings of planned improvements to David Smith Stadium at Ramer Field including replacement of the west side press box with a new structure that will include coaches boxes, a VIP room, ticketing, and a new entrance, and an artificial turf playing surface.