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May 04. 2014 10:21PM

Allen Lessels' UNH Notebook: Moving closer to the fund-raising goal

DURHAM -- MARTY SCARANO, the athletics director at the University of New Hampshire, and fellow school officials need another $1 million.

Scarano stood along the fence that surrounds Cowell Stadium shortly before Saturday’s Blue & White Spring game that brought a close to the football team’s spring session and talked about how far fund-raisers have come in their plans for a brand spanking new home for the school’s football team. And how far they must yet go.

“We hit $4 million yesterday of the $5 million we need,” Scarano said.

“It’s been unprecedented. We’ve never raised this much money in this short a period of time. Basically, we’ve raised the $4 million in six months. We have until around June 1 to hit the $5 million mark and we have some significant discussions ongoing and I’m confident we’ll do that.”

In late January, UNH announced plans to construct a multi-use facility, which it calls West Stadium, at a total cost of $25 million.

The stadium will put the home side of the field on the opposite side of where it is now and have a capacity of a little over 10,000.

The school said the project would move forward only when $5 million was raised. The university intends to seek internal borrowing for the additional $20 million.

The initial goal was to get to the $5 million and seek project approval from the University System Board of Trustees at its April meeting, but fund raising, said UNH President Mark Huddleston at the time, was at $3.7 million.

“The fact of the matter is, when people make significant financial commitments, they need some time to decide how to do it,” Scarano said. “We’re allowing people to have terms up to five years and in some cases seven years depending on the amount, so they need to get financial advice and figure out exactly how they can do that.”

Huddleston told the trustees that school officials would be back at the June 26 meeting to seek project approval.

“We’re not going to stop at $5 million, by the way,” Scarano said.

“We’re going to continue to keep fund raising and we hope we hit $10 million. But we need the $5 million to start. We’d love to do it by early June and then continue to fund raise.”

Scarano reiterated that he feels good about reaching the goal.

“I’m very confident,” he said. “We’re delighted we’ve gotten to this point and it just shows the commitment of people. There have been some significant commitments made, some by people that we didn’t anticipate and it’s just been great. It’s opened up a complete new discussion with a lot of people. People have really been captivated by this initiative and I think that’s going to bode well for us in the future as well.”

In the meantime, construction is expected to begin soon — perhaps as early as this week — on a project that will begin some renovations on what is now the home side of the field and install lights at Cowell Stadium in time for next season’s games.

The Wildcats open the 2014 season on the road at Toledo on Aug. 30 and play the first of six home games against Lehigh on Sept. 13. They are at Richmond on Sept. 20 and play Dartmouth at home on Sept. 27.

More information on the stadium project, including artists’ drawings, is available at www.unhstadium.com.

______

GUARD Tommy McDonnell, out of Durham and Oyster River, was announced as one of three men’s basketball captains for next season at the team’s banquet on Saturday.

McDonnell, whose father Sean coaches the UNH football team, will be the only senior among the captains. The others will be Frank Okeke, who will be a junior, and Joe Bramante, who will be a sophomore.

Bramante is out of North Andover, Mass., and Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro. He transferred in to UNH after playing one season at Weber State University and sat out this past season due to NCAA transfer regulations.

The Wildcats will open the 2014-15 season at Boston College on Nov. 14, said UNH coach Bill Herrion.

UNH and BC will both be looking to bounce back from tough seasons. The Eagles went 8-24 and coach Steve Donahue was replaced by Jim Christian after the season ended.

The Wildcats were 6-24.

UNH will be playing at Rutgers on Dec. 9.

The schedule is still being set, but other nonconference games include contests at Dartmouth on Nov. 30 and games at home against Boston University and Brown, Herrion said.

In other news out of the UNH banquet, senior Jordon Bronner was named the team’s Most Valuable Player, Chris Pelcher pulled down honors as Pete Smilikis Rebounder of the Year and McDonnell collected the Coach Gerry Friel Award for teamwork, sportsmanship, perseverance and academics.

allenlessels@unionleader.com

On Twitter: @AllenLessels


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