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Campaign to replace Richardson Stadium gets $10 million boost

March 22, 2014

By CLAUDE SCILLEY

Work to replace Richardson Stadium could begin as soon as the end of the 2014 season if a $10 million gift from a football alumnus provides the spark for a fundraising campaign that its co-chair believes it will.

“It’s great to jump-start things,” Paul Hand said of the donation announced Saturday from his old Golden Gaels teammate, Stu Lang. “We’re extraordinarily appreciative of Stu.

“We’ve been working with some other (prospective donors), so hopefully over the next month or two we’ll get some momentum going. The goal, if we can get the money raised and the board of trustees says yes, is hopefully we can get a shovel in the ground post the season this year.

Estimated cost to replace the failing 42-year-old stadium is $25 million.

“We’ll see,” Hand said. “We’ve got to get the money.”

Lang, who played both football and hockey while at Queen’s in the early 1970s, is currently the coach of the football team at the University of Guelph, where that program has also benefited from his generosity. He works there without pay, and he provided money for a new scoreboard and a new turf field since he arrived in 2010.

Hand said the initial announcement of a fundraising drive aside, a typical campaign essentially doesn’t begin until a lead donor is in place.

“For specific campaigns to build a building or a specific endowment, usually a lead gift is the sort of thing that gets the thing kicked off,” he said. “It gives other people enthusiasm to donate because historically, people like to know that it’s going to get done.

“I always say the last 10 per cent or the last 20 per cent is always the easiest (to raise). People can see the goal line and they can see their contribution helps. When people are donating lesser sums at the start, it seems like a bridge too far.”

The fields campaign, a component of the university’s $500 million fundraising drive, has raised about $8 million so far to create Nixon Field near Kingston Hall and an artificial practice field on West Campus.

“We haven’t been totally without modest success,” Hand said, “but the stadium is the biggest bite of all, the flagship of the project. We’ve been working hard and fortunately Stu’s come forward at this point in time.

“We’ve talked to a number of people over the last five years. I think some this will be the final step for them (before) finally committing because they will see it as a project with a high likelihood of going ahead. We still have a bridge (to cross). Hopefully it’s not a bridge too far anymore but it still requires some work.”

When the campaign began, the stadium renovation — or replacement — was somewhere south of such things as a new medical building and paying off the mortgage on the Queen’s Centre on the university’s to-do list. When an engineer’s report condemned most of Richardson Stadium last spring, however, things changed.

“With the stadium falling down, between that and the new engineering building, those are the two major projects,” Hand said. “We’ve got to the top of the list. Hopefully this is the first really big step to getting the money raised to get the project rolling.”

Lang’s father started CCL Industries, a labelling and packaging company, in Toronto in the ’50s. Stu, now retired, and his brother, Don, grew it into a multinational firm operating on six continents that had sales of $1.9 billion in 2013.

“He’s a super guy and it took him a while to figure out what he wanted to do,” Hand said. “He always felt athletics was big part of his life and I think he felt that his alma maters, both (Upper Canada College, which got a $10 million gift a year ago) and Queen’s, were things that combined his love of football and his love of working with young people. It fits with what he thought he should be doing with his money.”

Hand said a new stadium wouldn’t be “just a Queen’s thing.” He noted the extensive use of the university’s other artificial athletic fields by community and school teams and he expects the benefits of a rejuvenated stadium will be felt well beyond campus.

“The reality is that the high schools have a thriving football program without any decent fields,” he said. “This allows us to bring international rugby, soccer – it will be a facility that suits a lot of different sports and the community will benefit from that.”

Hand said plans are a long way from being finalized with respect to capacity — “it’s not going to be 2,000, and it’s not going to be 20,000, somewhere in between” — or configuration, other than the new stadium, which will still be called Richardson, will be in the same place as the current facility and there will be no running track.

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One Comment
  1. Rick Revelle permalink

    Wow!!!

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