Cornell announces major renovations to Ash Park Stadium
The Cornell College football season may be nearly complete, but construction season is just about to begin to fully renovate Ash Park Stadium.
The Van Metre family has graciously donated nearly $1 million to renovate the facility, which will soon be renamed Van Metre Field at Ash Park. The facility serves as Cornell’s competition venue for football, lacrosse, and track & field. Players and spectators will have an entirely new experience when they walk into the football stadium for the 2018 season.
“This generous gift allows us to make significant upgrades to the stadium, which was built in 1922,” said Athletic Director Keith Hackett. “This project will benefit our student-athletes and fans for years to come.”
Pending review by the Mount Vernon Historic Preservation Commission, renovations include a street-facing field entrance with an entry plaza, a fully-renovated press box, viewing stands with upgraded seating, and a new scoreboard. There will be new, improved perimeter fencing and landscaping to enhance the entrance into Mount Vernon through campus from the west. The project includes increased technology infrastructure and better accessibility for patrons with special needs. A Cornell Ram statue near the entrance to the Small Multi-Sport Center will be added in the future as well.
“The renovations have been needed for many years,” said Dave Van Metre. “Rather than just doing touch-ups, we wanted it done first class. I think it will mean a great deal to students and the community. They’ll have a stadium they can be proud of.”
Dave Van Metre, who grew up in Mount Vernon, has fond memories of tossing a football on Cornell’s campus with his boyhood pals and later in life with grandsons. He and his late wife, Carol, have dedicated a lot of time to fix up athletic facilities in a variety of cities throughout their lives. Donating in addition to Dave are his sons Jim (with wife Stacy) and David (with wife Robin), his sister-in-law CeCe Van Metre, and her three sons, Doug (with wife Molly and daughters Mary and Hattie), Craig (with wife Donna), and Kent (with wife Susie).
Construction is set to begin as soon as the Mount Vernon Historic Preservation Commission review process is complete. The work is scheduled to wrap up by spring of 2018.
“This is really exciting,” said Cornell sophomore and Mount Vernon native Mickey Hines, who competes in football and track & field. “These renovations will make the whole atmosphere better, and you want to be playing in front of that.”
“I have such admiration for Dave and his family,” said Cornell President Jonathan Brand. “This project will help us to dramatically enhance Cornell, our athletics program, and Mount Vernon, all in one project. I cannot think of a better project for them, especially given the family’s deep and enduring ties to Cornell that go back decades.”
Dave’s mother and father both worked at Cornell. Douglas U. Van Metre served as a Cornell College Trustee and college treasurer and Mary Van Metre was the first children’s librarian at Cornell. Dave’s brother, Douglas C. Van Metre ’50, was a Cornell College Life Trustee, football player, and assistant football coach. Uncle Joe Meade was the dean of men and Aunt Harriet was the director of physical education for women at Cornell. CeCe’s grandfather, Charles J. Lynch, also attended Cornell in the 1890s.
Cornell College is a founding member of the Midwest Conference of the NCAA Division III. An official dedication of the field will be announced at a later date.
Note: Cornell College’s athletic director, football players, and coaches will be available Nov. 6 at 3:30 p.m. in the Small Multi-Sport Center. They would be happy to handle questions from interested media.
About Cornell College
Cornell College, a selective liberal arts college in Mount Vernon, Iowa, offers a distinctive One Course At A Time curriculum, immersing students in a single academic subject during each 18-day block. With a student body from 42 states and 17 foreign countries, and renowned faculty, speakers, and entertainers, Cornell offers the world from its hilltop campus.
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