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New Balance field to strengthen athletic programs

A building was demolished Thursday, an important step in the construction of the New Balance Field. PHOTO BY HEATHER GOLDIN/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

A building was demolished Thursday, an important step in the construction of the New Balance Field. PHOTO BY HEATHER GOLDIN/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

The New Balance Field at Boston University, set to open in the fall of 2013, will expand the reputation and quality of BU athletics to be among the best in the country, officials said.

“When we finish this, it’s going to be an important asset to not only the campus and athletic facilities, but to this whole area,” said Paul Rinaldi, assistant vice president of Facilities Management and Planning at BU. “It will be much more of an improvement over the building that was there for those who live in Babcock Tower.”

BU Operations demolished a building Thursday as the latest step in the construction of the field, Rinaldi said.

The building, which stood at 278 Babcock St., was a warehouse for several BU departments, as well as an asset to the ROTC and the BU band, both of which used the building for practice.

The New Balance Field’s construction likely will be completed by the fall 2013 semester, he said.

“The field should be ready for our athletes as they return in late August,” Rinaldi said. “We’re expecting that the home schedule of our women’s [field] hockey team is going to be played on the field in September.”

Mike Lynch, assistant vice president and director of BU Athletics, said the field will be as important as Agganis Arena to the university’s athletics program.

“This field could end up being as significant to our program and to the way the campus looks as the building of Agganis Arena,” Lynch said. “Not only are … teams going to benefit from its construction, but also we’re going to have a new space for all of the thousands of recreational and club athletes.”

Rinaldi said, although Nickerson Field and a specialized softball field exist at BU, another field is necessary for logistical and scheduling purposes.

“Building this field doubles the number of the multi-use athletic fields at the university,” he said.

Officials said the New Balance Field could be as important to Boston University as Agganis Arena. PHOTO COURTESY OF BU FACILITIES MANAGEMENT AND PLANNING

Officials said the New Balance Field could be as important to Boston University as Agganis Arena. PHOTO COURTESY OF BU FACILITIES MANAGEMENT AND PLANNING

Lynch said the field will help BU become considered among the colleges with the best athletic services in the U.S., which will then strengthen BU’s stature overall.

“For us, from a recruiting perspective, it’s going to put us right up there with some of the best facilities anywhere in the country,” Lynch said.

BU spokesman Colin Riley said New Balance provided an essential monetary contribution necessary for BU to build the field.

“We have lots of alumni and friends of athletics that have contributed as well,” Riley said. “But New Balance provided the funding so we could proceed with the project.”

A New Balance spokesperson could not be reached by press time.

New Balance President and Chief Executive Officer Rob DeMartini said the company shares BU’s passion for sport, student athletics and athletic innovation in a February press release.

“As a Boston-based company with a long-standing commitment to promoting health and fitness and giving back to the local community, we are excited to help provide this valuable athletic resource for the Boston University community,” DeMartini said in the release.

New Balance Field will allow the BU field hockey team to have a home field that is within campus boundaries, Lynch said.

“Our field hockey team, which has been a nationally ranked program for a number of years, is finally going to be back on campus after 13 years of traveling like vagabonds between [Massachusetts Institute of Technology] and Harvard [University] and Boston College,” he said. “They’ll finally have a home.”

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