Race : Division-III Cal Lutheran debuts new stadium with art gallery

first_imgA new stadium makes recruiting easier for any football program. But at Cal Lutheran University, head coach Ben McEnroe has a few extra selling points when he tells prospective athletes about the new William Rolland Stadium.He had a hand in planning, so he can explain that the Division-III Cal Lutheran football team has FieldTurf — a change from the old stadium’s natural grass and the same surface the Super Bowl is played on.He can tell them all about the environment — the new stadium took ideas from the old Clef Stadium, keeping the players and fans as close as possible to the field for a more intimate experience.Or he can point out what is perhaps the most unique feature of any football stadium — an art gallery on the premises that, when it opens Oct. 29, will feature an extensive collection of bronze statues, oil paintings, watercolors and various memorabilia donated by the stadium’s namesake and primary donator, Bill Rolland.‘The administration was delighted to get the football stadium of their dreams,’ stadium project manager Valerie Crooks said. ‘We get to have games and practices at night — something we wanted for years. It’s the complete package.’AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe William Rolland Stadium and Gallery of Fine Art featured its first sporting event Oct. 1, when the Cal Lutheran Kingsmen took on their rival, the Redlands Bulldogs, in the first night game in school history.It was a game that Los Angeles Times columnist Chris Erskine called one of the top five comebacks he’d ever seen. Down 24-0 at halftime, Cal Lutheran dropped the new stadium nerves and came back with 28 unanswered points — including a last-second touchdown — to seal the first victory at William Rolland.The Cal Lutheran-Redlands rivalry has developed throughout the years because one of the two teams usually ends up as conference champion, said Mike Maynard, Redlands head coach. And with more than 3,000 people in attendance, it had a rivalry-game environment that Maynard’s team enjoyed.‘It was an environment we don’t often get,’ Maynard said. ‘We don’t often see really loud, exciting atmospheres. This game had a lot of sound, a lot of atmosphere. It was a great experience, except for that last play.’And for McEnroe, it’s a victory that he hopes will set the standard for the stadium’s future.The stadium-art gallery hybrid was born from the request of Rolland, the stadium donor and a longtime southern California resident. Rolland wanted to give his $5 million to a structure that he could watch grow and develop on campus, not a project that took years to execute. That meant the timetable would be tight.Plus, he wanted a place to display his art collection. The idea of an art gallery in the stadium was unique; it wasn’t frowned upon at all by administrators. The prospect of the art gallery being included was met with support across the board, said Crooks.So, with a deadline of the start of the fall 2011 season, contractors set out to construct the stadium and gallery. The stadium would have been open for the first home game of the season, but rain delays halted construction progress during the summer, Crooks said.The first home game, played at a local community college, was a bit of a ‘roller coaster’ for the team’s seniors, McEnroe said. The team was concerned there wouldn’t be a home field for their final season.But the city of Thousand Oaks, Calif., approved a temporary occupancy order for the facility, and the Kingsmen were able to take the field for the first time against Redlands.McEnroe wishes he could deny the excitement of the new stadium led to the Kingsmen’s poor first-half play against Redlands, but he admits the team was ‘caught up in the moment.’‘It was important from an institutional standpoint and from a historical standpoint,’ he said. ‘Fortunately, we were able to pull off one of the greatest comebacks in school history. I would be lying if I said we were able to solely focus on the game at hand. We came out awestruck, but it worked in our favor.’The stadium’s opening ceremony will take place during Cal Lutheran’s homecoming weekend Oct. 29. And although the move to the new stadium is bittersweet for those who loved Clef Stadium, McEnroe has already seen the benefits.The Kingsmen won the last football game in Clef Stadium at the end of last year, playing in front of hundreds of football alumni back in town to say goodbye to the facility. McEnroe said they ‘couldn’t write a better script’ about the end of the season.Then, the Kingsmen received the NCAA tournament seedings. They earned the No. 4 seed in the region, which meant they had home-field advantage. But they couldn’t even play in front of a home crowd at Clef because it wasn’t up to NCAA standards. It was then, he said, that McEnroe knew he and the program were ready for Rolland Stadium.‘When I saw those rankings and we couldn’t host it, I was ready for the new stadium,’ he said. ‘We’re a good team at home, and now we have an opportunity to play at home. We’re very excited about it.’[email protected] Published on October 12, 2011 at 12:00 pm Commentscenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *