There were two major announcements Thursday at the University at Albany.
UAlbany President Robert Jones: "It is my great pleasure today to announce an unprecedented gift from The Bernard and Millie Children’s Foundation to support the University at Albany's Athletics program in the amount of 10 Million dollars."
The multi-million dollar gift will fund student-athlete scholarships, sports programs and support UAlbany's 8500-seat stadium that opened in 2013.
The Foundation was created by William Duker of the class of 1975, his wife Sharon and their son William "West" Duker.
Jones T "From today on this will be the Tom & Mary Casey Stadium," ...the naming honors Sharon Duker’s parents. She says they passed enduring family values down to their kids and always stressed the importance of education. "We are grateful for all they have done for us and feel privileged, yet humbled that this stadium, your homefield, and ours, will bear our parents name."
UAlbany Foundation President George R. Hearst III chimed in, "Tom & Mary Casey Stadium is a treasure for the University and the entire Capital Region. This remarkable and generous gift will open doors for student-athletes hoping to attend UAlbany, and will ensure that this University and community can be proud of this stadium for years to come. But this gift is much more: it is validation of the excellence of a UAlbany education."
In 2013, the stadium’s field was named in honor of Bob Ford, who served as head coach of UAlbany’s football team for 44 years.
Athletics Director Mark Benson says the cash infusion will help create a vibrant "game-day experience" for UAlbany students and sports fans. "This is a gift that's really gonna impact all of our student athletes, all of our programs, the campus community and the Capital Region. Not just for this moment, this year, but for many generations to come. And I think its important to note Bob Ford field, it will now be known as Bob Ford field at Casey Stadium."
He added part of the gift will go into annual scholarships, and another part will be earmarked as an endowment for the state-of-the-art stadium. "It's very important in today's world of college athletics. Facilities are vitally important in Division One athletic programs. It's a huge boon in recruiting."
Benson also lauded what he called "great hospitality options" and "great concessions" fans will be able to avail themselves of at the stadium, which will also host graduations and campus community events. The stadium features a scoreboard with a high-def video display and point-source sound system behind the south end zone. "It's very important that we have first-class audio, high-definition video, fan amenities, concessions, those fan amenities again will help us generate new revenue streams to reinvest into our program and help us maintain the excellence."
The "official unveiling" of new signage was marked by the release of several balloons, and as a sign of the times, this closing act occurred under the watchful eye of a hovering drone, a fitting cap off to Thursday's announcement ceremony.