New Four-Story Press Box to be Added to Kessler Field

Construction for a new four-story building at Kessler Field has been confirmed to begin this year. The new multi-purpose building will replace the current press box built at the University in 1993.

The building will meet the standards of the Big South Conference, Metro Athletic Atlantic Conference and National Collegiate Athletic Association, according to Marilyn McNeil, Vice President and Director of Athletics.

“The current press box does not accommodate the needs of the University community,” said McNeil. “Permanent indoor bathrooms for fans attending events, multipurpose meeting space that can be utilized year-round, and adequate media and game-day operations space simply do not exist within the current facility.”

Features of the new building will include new concessions stands, a scoreboard, radio booths, video operations, a coaching booth, and many other uses.

Each floor of the building has separate purposes, according to McNeil. The first floor will feature new indoor restrooms and concession stands. The second floor multi-use space has not yet been determined. The third floor will replace the previous press box and the fourth floor will serve as a president’s suite to accommodate donors and guests along with space for camera decks.

University President Dr. Paul Brown said sketches of the inside of each floor are currently being drawn up, and although the second floor has not yet been determined, it will most likely be “open space that could be used for special events, classrooms, instruction,” along with other events as needed.

An exact price has not yet been determined. Once the bid documents are sent out and selected a final cost will be announced.

Construction of the new building will cost an estimated $4 million, according to Vice President for Administrative Services, Patti Swannack. “The anticipated cost of the project was based on estimates received by the university from independent firms.”

Faculty explained that the new building will offer many opportunities to the University. “The new four-tier structure will provide space and amenities that will enhance the game day experience for student athletes and fans,” said Swannack.

Swannack continued that the new building will also “serve as a training ground for students interested in sports production communications.”

Brown said, “For students that are majoring in communication and students that are majoring in sports management, this will actually be a learning tool.” The new facilitiy will provide students with up-to-date technology to complete tasks such as sports broadcasts and many other communication or sports management related tasks year-round.

“I think it will benefit every type of media that we use,” said Michael Zimmerman, WMCX Sports Director. “Because for radio, we will have our own booth, the home and away radio will have their own booth, and the guys in athletics with the cameras will have much more room to move around.”

Kessler-TransformationZimmerman explained that the current press box is old and outdated. The internet capabilities are limited which can pose as an issue conducting news broadcasts and other related tasks.

“We need the building in order to accommodate the press, the game day crews, the NFL scouts, the web streaming, video needs, and the replay requirements,” said McNeil.

McNeil said that the upgrades to Kessler Field are sorely needed “if we want to recruit a higher caliber athlete and to make the experience of coming to a game much better for all, including the students.”

Brown said the new four-story building will be able to do much more than just meet the needs of the new conference the football team will enter next year. “…It will do more than just what it looks like it will do, so I love it in that context,” said Brown.

Student athletes are especially looking forward to the construction. “I am very happy about the renovations to the football field because our stadium is not big at all in comparison to other schools,” said Greg DePugh, University quarterback. “Since we changed conferences we really needed it to expand. I just wish they had done it sooner, because it is a great idea.”

Funding for the new building will be supplied through private donations, Jason Kroll, Vice President for University Advancement, explained. Numerous commitments from donors have already been received including the Jules L. Plangere Jr. Family Foundation, Inc. who addressed a personal interest in the construction.

“[Kessler Field] has been in need of an upgrade for quite some time,” said Kroll. “The interest and commitment from donors, particularly the Plangere Family, put the planning and design process into action approximately two years ago.”

The building was planned and designed by Ewing Cole in conjunction with key members of facility management, university administration, athletics, and the Board of Trustees, Swannack said.

The University received approval for the building by the borough of West Long Branch zoning board. A resolution allowing the University to construct the building was approved in July and memorialized on Sept. 26.

An exact date to begin construction has not been determined, although the University plans to begin after the fall football season, Swannack explained. The construction process will take approximately 10 to 12 months to complete, weather permitting.

The building will be built behind the Kessler Field bleachers. During the construction process students will have full access to the field.

“I like it because it’s not just a press box, it can be used for many different purposes,” said Brown.

Additional reporting done by Nina Marie Costa.


IMAGE CREATED by Angela Ciroalo