FLORENCE – Students at the University of North Alabama have indicated interest in a university-owned multipurpose facility that would allow for a wide range of events such as band competitions, football and soccer games, Spring Fling events, movie nights, concerts, graduation, and other events on a UNA-branded field.
Members of the UNA Student Government Association had been discussing the value of having an on-campus athletic facility during 2018. Late that year the SGA sent out a survey to all students seeking input on a variety of topics. More than 1700 responses were received.
The SGA included the question, “Are you interested in the University exploring the possibility of an on-campus soccer/football stadium?
Almost 71% of respondents answered yes, 15% answered no, and 14% were indifferent.
Furthermore, there were no significant differences in opinion when social, age, geographic, or gender factors came into play.
The SGA drafted a resolution later in 2018 to support the creation of a University Stadium Workgroup, or USW, tasked with investigating the possibility of a new stadium for UNA. The process was to include the various stakeholders in the community and the USW was to report its findings back to the SGA Senate.
The group of concerned community members came together to gauge interest, look at possibilities, and assemble a brief package from which further discussion could be considered. The University Stadium Workgroup has broad representation from various constituency groups including students, faculty, staff, alumni, and members of the local community.
University Stadium Workgroup
Sportsman’s Club board member, alumnus, and former student athlete, Dr. Tim Morgan, chairs the USW. The group also includes Grant Gunn, UNA student; Chase Holcombe, 2018-2019 SGA President; Michelle Eubanks, UNA Alumni Association and community member; Chester McKinney, community member; Dr. Lee Renfroe, UNA faculty and alumna; Evan Thornton, UNA Vice President for Business and Financial Affairs; and Debbie Williams, Business Manager and Senior Woman Administrator for UNA Athletics.
Athletic Director, Mark Linder, is a non-voting member and serves as a resource for the group.
Two of the workgroup members, Gunn and Holcombe, made presentations among key student groups. These included Fraternity and Sorority Life organizations, the SGA, the LaGrange Society, and two open forums. Student engagement and feedback were measured and collected by the USW from the eight presentations. The groups were asked for their feedback on four topics – design, location, amenities, and funding – regarding the stadium concept.
Members of the group met in February with UNA President, Dr. Ken Kitts. The workgroup released a brief report earlier this month that offers greater detail on the feasibility, benefits, and risks of a university-owned and operated multi-purpose facility and what size, costs, amenities, and funding mechanism may be considered.
University officials stressed that the stadium is only in the proposal stage and that no aspects of the report have been initiated. Dr. Kitts will study the report and respond in the coming weeks.
The report may be downloaded and read at https://www.una.edu/stadium/