Warren McGuirk Alumni Stadium
- For other uses, see Alumni Stadium (disambiguation)
|Location||300 Stadium Drive
Hadley, Massachusetts 01003
|Owner||University of Massachusetts Amherst|
|Operator||University of Massachusetts Amherst|
|Opened||September 25, 1965|
|Construction cost||$1.4 million|
Warren McGuirk Alumni Stadium is a 17,000-seat multi-purpose stadium in Hadley, Massachusetts on the campus of the University of Massachusetts Amherst. It was home for all games for the UMass Minutemen football team through the 2011 season, and remains home to the UMass Minutewomen lacrosse team. The football team is scheduled to play half their home games here in 2014. The stadium is named for Warren P. McGuirk, who was the UMass Athletic Director from 1948 to 1971. Although it is located within the University's campus, which is almost entirely in Amherst, the stadium itself lies just across the border in Hadley.
Replacing Alumni Field, the stadium hosted its first game on September 25, 1965, with UMass beating American International College, 41-0. The stadium was officially dedicated on October 16, 1965, when UMass defeated Rhode Island 30-7 in a homecoming contest. The most recent sellout at the stadium was on December 2, 2006 with UMass defeating New Hampshire, 24-17. The stadium is also the site of UMass Amherst graduation ceremonies, and hosted the 1987 NCAA women’s soccer championship. On April 10, 2009, an Amherst resident fell from the stadium in what police believe was a suicide.
UMass now plays in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). McGuirk Stadium's current capacity is only modestly above the NCAA's requirement of 15,000 average attendance for FBS membership. The school upgraded its press box to meet NCAA requirements to bring some games back to campus, and upgraded its indoor training facilities.
Lights were installed in the stadium for the 2008 football season, permitting UMass to play night games at home on a regular basis. The first game played under the permanent lights was the season opener on August 30, 2008, with UMass beating Albany 28-16. A video scoreboard was installed during the 2009 season. A new FieldTurf playing surface was installed in McGuirk Stadium for the 2014 football season.
The plaza on the east side of the stadium behind the ticket gates, MinuteFan Park, hosts food and souvenir vendors and other exhibitors on game days.
On April 20, 2011, the school officially accepted an invitation to become a football-only member of the Division I FBS Mid-American Conference. Consequently, the 2011 season was the last at McGuirk Stadium before a major renovation project to upgrade it to FBS standards. For the 2012 and 2013 seasons, the Minutemen are played all of their home games at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, 95 miles (153 km) east of UMass on the other side of the state. The north end has a new training facility and locker rooms added. The old press box was demolished, with a new box constructed to two levels with more TV/radio booths as well as luxury suites added. The stadium was not suitable for FBS football in its previous configuration. It would have been prohibitively difficult to meet the minimum FBS attendance of least 15,000 fans per game, and its press box and replay facilities were well below MAC standards.
The cost of this construction is estimated at $20,000,000 and was completed in time for the 2014 season, with the team talking occupancy in July 2014. The deal with Gillette Stadium calls for UMass to play some games per year at the stadium from 2014 through 2016 which would leave open the possibility for some games per season during those years to be played on campus at McGuirk Stadium. One of the main reasons for the possibility of games during that period at McGuirk is that the current Mid American Conference TV contract with ESPN typically schedules a handful of MAC games to be played on Tuesday nights in October and November. If UMass were scheduled a home matchup for one of the weeknight games, the game could be played on campus thus negating the need to bus students approximately 100 miles to and from Gillette Stadium late at night on a school night.
In an email to the Maroon Musket, an independent magazine covering Minutemen football, athletic director John McCutcheon confirmed that once the new facilities are complete, the team intends to play at least one game at McGuirk Stadium until the license to play in Foxborough expires at the end of the 2016 season. McCutcheon also said that there are presently no plans to expand the stadium, which would make it the smallest stadium in the MAC and the second-smallest in FBS.
On September 14, 2012, the UMass trustees approved a five-year, $3.1 billion capital plan. Included in the plan was $30 million to be spent renovating the stadium as part of the transition to FBS football play. Although construction on the renovations began in March 2013, an official groundbreaking ceremony was held on April 26, 2013.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Warren McGuirk Alumni Stadium.|
- "UMass Rocks AIC". The Hartford Courant. September 26, 1965.
- McGuirk Alumni Stadium - New Football Performance Center and Press & Skybox Complex UMass Facilites and Campus Services
- Vautour, Matt (2011-04-21). "Gillette Stadium new home for UMass football beginning in 2012". Daily Hampshire Gazette. Retrieved 15 September 2012.
- Chimells, Ron (April 23, 2011). "UMass football could play on campus again, but not before 2014". The Republican (Springfield, Massachusetts). Retrieved October 20, 2011.
- McGovern, Bob (2012-10-01). "No expanded seating for McGuirk Alumni Stadium". Maroon Musket. The article incorrectly states that Dix Stadium is currently the smallest MAC stadium; four other stadiums are smaller.
- Walsh, Ryan (2011-09-29). "UMass spending $30 million on football". WWLP.com. Retrieved 15 September 2012.