A History of Brown Athletic Facilities, Part IV:
The Sports Foundation Era Begins - 1983 - Present
By Peter Mackie ’59
The creation of the Brown Sports Foundation in 1983 ushered in a new era of support and expansion for Brown Athletics. The brainchild of
Artemis A.J. Joukowsky ’55 P’87, this innovative organization has been instrumental in spearheading new and upgraded facilities for men and women for the past 25 years. The first visible imprint of the Sports Foundation was the installation of the University shield on the facade of the OMAC on September 30, 1983.
In 1988, Aldrich-Dexter Field became the Wendell R. Erickson Athletic Complex, in honor of Wendell Erickson ’19, who had been a catcher for the baseball team. Erickson’s $6 million bequest was designated primarily for maintenance of athletic facilities. At the same time, the intramural playing fields in the Erickson Complex were named The Dexter Fields, thus perpetuating the name of Ebenezer Knight Dexter, the philanthropist who created the Dexter Asylum in the early 1800s.
With the closing of venerable Marvel Gym in 1989, a long-awaited new facility for varsity athletics was completed. The Paul Bailey Pizzitola Memorial Sports Center, formally dedicated on April 22, 1989 and billed as “the final piece of the Erickson Complex,” was named in memory of Paul B. Pizzitola ’81, whose father Frank Pizzitola ’49 provided the lead gift toward the $7.6 million project. Quickly nicknamed “the Pitz,” this compact multi-purpose facility incorporated playing and practice venues and administrative and coaches’ offices under one roof.
This year, the gym at the Pitz was completely renovated, thanks to $650,000 in gifts to the Sports Foundation. A state-of-the-art spring-loaded floor, similar to those found in NBA arenas was installed, and new lighting, spectator seating and scoreboards were also included in the project.
In addition to Pizzitola, the Sports Foundation has raised funds for numerous facility upgrades. Brown Stadium underwent a major renovation in 1988, and a spacious new locker room (The Joukowsky Family Locker Room) was completed in 1991. A new composition track was added in the summer of 2001.
On the Seekonk, an expanded and modernized Marston Boathouse was rededicated on November 12, 1994. This $2 million project provided Brown’s men’s and women’s crews with top notch facilities to match their outstanding on-the-water accomplishments.
Back at Erickson, the varsity tennis courts have been resurfaced twice, in 1988 and 2007, while permanent stands were installed in 1999. In addition, the Warner Roof field was resurfaced (2000), the Kate Brodsky ’89 Memorial Squash Pavilion was retooled to include five international glass courts (2003), and Stevenson Field received new lighting and a new playing surface (2001).
Meehan Auditorium, the oldest building at Erickson, underwent a $4.2 million renovation in 2003. The expanded new lobby (named for John Berylson ’75), lounge (named for Foster B. “Pete” Davis ’39), and men’s and women’s locker rooms were the showpieces of the project. The ice surface was named the Pollard Family Rink in honor of the Pollard family, which provided the lead gift of $1 million.
Before its untimely demise, the Smith Swim Center was enhanced by the addition of six international squash courts in 2003, as well as, in 2006, the D. Barr Clayson ’58 P’81 P’86 P’87 lobby, and swimming and diving locker rooms, funded by E.R. Ted Garcia and Jane Hoerig P’08 P’10. The temporary aquatics bubble, erected behind the OMAC, was completed in December 2007, at a cost of $3.8 million.
The pace of construction has quickened in the past few years. Thanks to Terrence and Suzanne Murray P’84 P’94 and their children, longstanding Brown Sports Foundation Vice President Paula McNamara ’84 and Christopher Murray ’94, Murray Stadium, which surrounds the Edward B. Aldrich Baseball Field, was dedicated in 2007. This completed a series of improvements that began in 1996, which featured new bleachers and a press box. The nearby softball facility also was upgraded in 1996, with new stands and press box.
As athletic offerings have continued to expand, Brown has created additional playing fields to alleviate growing demand for spaces to play. A new field was created on the site of old Aldrich Field, after the 2002 demolition of Marvel Gym. Informally called “Marvel Field,” it is used for rugby and other club and intramural sports. New state of the art outdoor field turf surfaces have also provided extended playing time for varsity, club and intramural athletes, with the recently completed Meister-Kavan Field and stands, as well as the illuminated Berylson Family Fields and stands, completed in the fall of 2007.
Pembroke Field has just received a total makeover with a new grass field, two outdoor volleyball courts, and attractive fencing and landscaping. A lighted pedestrian path leads to an open plaza at the northeast corner, across Hope Street from the entrance portal to the Erickson Complex and the start of the Buonanno Esplanade.
From their informal and modest beginnings on the College Green in the early 1800s, athletics at Brown have evolved into a vast educational enterprise encompassing 37 varsity teams and a plethora of club sports, intramural squads, and physical education programs. Thanks to a succession of benefactors, students at Brown have been supported by ever-improving facilities. As the Sports Foundation completes its 25th year, Brown is poised to continue the development of facilities which reflect the excellence of the University.