WARREN, Mich – The De La Salle Collegiate Board of Trustees approved a $2 million athletic field project that will significantly improve the educational-athletic experience for its current and future students.
St. John Baptist de La Salle Field will be the first major facility upgrade to the all-boys school in 15 years. Currently in its 93rd academic year, De La Salle moved to Warren in 1982.
"St. John Baptist de La Salle Field will provide our Lasaillian community an outstanding location for athletic and co-curricular programs," De La Salle President John M. Knight said. "On behalf of the Brothers and our Board of Trustees, I offer our deepest gratitude to those men and women who have generously supported this project."
The new, fenced-in facility will include a multi-use athletic field, scoreboard, grandstands that will seat 1,500 fans, and a press box to accommodate coaches and media. The field will be used primarily for Pilots football, soccer and lacrosse, but it will also entertain other programs.
Beginning in 2020, the new athletic field will be advantageous to the Admission Department, which oversees the school's successful summer camp programs. Approximately, 300 of the 750 annual campers sign up for football, lacrosse and soccer, combined. The school's award-winning marching band – the Marching Pilots – will also benefit from the use of the new field, as will physical education classes and intramural programs.
A supporter of De La Salle, who wishes to remain anonymous, donated $300,000 for the rights to name the athletic field, which is located on the west end of the school's 20-acre property.
A timeline for completion of St. John Baptist de La Salle Field has not been established. However, the hope is construction can begin as early as mid-May and Pilots' fall sports teams will begin using it by Sept. 1.
"This outdoor athletic field renovation represents years of planning, fundraising and work by staff, coaches, administrators trustees, donors and alumni," De La Salle athletic director Mike Watson said.
All three levels – varsity, junior varsity, and freshman soccer and lacrosse will use the new field for practices and games. Junior varsity and freshman football will also have full use of the field. However, the three-time state championship varsity football will not play at St. John Baptist de La Salle Field. They will continue to play home games at Wayne State's University's Tom Adams Field.
Despite the grass fields, De La Salle's programs that practice and play on it have managed to produce winners in the past. Aside from the football titles, lacrosse has one state crown and soccer has five state championships.
"The addition of a new artificial infill turf field will not only improve the aesthetic of our facility, but create a playing surface that is consistent and safe," De La Salle athletic director Mike Watson said. "As a new home to the football, soccer, lacrosse, band programs as well as physical education classes the field also offers De La Salle the opportunity to host youth, CYO and MHSAA events, and will be a showcase for Lasallian education."
Last fall, the Pilots' regular season soccer schedule consisted of three home games – all played Macomb Community College. Now, De La Salle will join 11 Catholic League and 19 Macomb County schools that already enjoy the benefits of playing and practicing at home on artificial surfaces.
Legendary soccer coach Thaier Mukhtar is looking forward to finally true home games.
"It is our educational and athletic responsibilities to provide our students a safe environment for the boys and complete on equal level fields with other outstanding schools," he said. "The soccer and football programs are two of the finest in the state and now with this project our athletes will have the oppotunities to flourish even more."