MSOE Building Women’s Softball Stadium
The university is also adding five new women's sports, and making a push to diversify student body.
The Milwaukee School of Engineering unveiled a $4 million plan Friday to develop a stadium for its women’s softball team on the university’s downtown campus and add five women’s sports.
The effort will add 130 female athletes, more than doubling the current roster for the NCAA Division III participant.
Walz said of all the engineering degrees awarded across the country last year, 23% went to females. He noted that was both a record high, and a figure that is far too low. “Students of color, particularly Hispanic and African American students, were also equally underrepresented,” said Walz.
“It’s supporting women’s athletics, but it’s drawing more students to our campus,” said Walz.
The first phase calls for new women’s and coach’s locker rooms at the Kern Center, 1245 N. Broadway, and Viets Field soccer stadium, 1305 N. Broadway.
Those facilities will allow the university to add five women’s teams: lacrosse, hockey, swim, golf and bowling. It will also create new space for female track and field team members. Those facilities are planned to be completed in 2022.
The university will redevelop its existing, 2.6-acre green space at 408 E. State St. The largely temporary softball field on the lot today will be reoriented from a southeast-facing home plate along N. Milwaukee St. to a north-facing home plate along E. State St. A natural grass field and dirt infield are planned.
A building behind home plate will include a press box, ticket window and concession stand. Seating for 250 spectators is planned, with a mix of permanent and seasonal fencing to mark off the field.
Sand volleyball courts, frisbee golf holes, walking space and accessible green space will be maintained. “We are not taking away a place for our students,” said Walz. “When you are an urban campus, you value green space very much.”
“When MSOE wins, I believe Milwaukee wins as well,” said Mayor Cavalier Johnson in praising the university during the press conference.
The new facilities are being designed by Ramlow/Stein Architecture + Interiors in collaboration with 4Most Sport Group. Catalyst Construction will serve as the general contractor on the building projects.
The lead donor in the effort is university regent Kathleen Ruehlow. Joining Ruehlow as major donors are two other university alumni, Matthew and Jodi Burrow. Fiduciary Management is also a major donor to the project.
“I hope these changes, planned for a long time, encourage students to continue their extracurricular activities while pursuing an exceptional education here at MSOE,” said Ruehlow. The university presented her with a softball signed by all of the team members. Ruehlow and her late husband have made a series of major gifts to the university, including developing a new home for the nursing program.
Sophmore and softball team catcher Jenna Trewyn said she thought the improvements would help the team draw more fans, make the female athletes feel more valued and improve the overall experience for students at the university.
The new softball stadium is across N. Milwaukee Street from a series of recently completed projects: Viets Tower and Diercks Hall. A new plaza will soon link the two facilities and encourage connectivity with the expanded campus and visitor center at 1025 N. Broadway.
The university maintains a baseball stadium in suburban Glendale.
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