The Irwin A. & Robert D. Goodman Foundation has donated$6 million to Madison Area Technical College to renovate soccer and softball fields at its Truax campus on Madison’s North Side, school officials said Wednesday.
The donation is the largest the Goodman Foundation has ever given, and the largest that MATC has ever received.
The announcement came about a year and a half after the school scrapped plans for a larger, $18 million sports complex, proposed by the Goodman Foundation.
Renovations to the sports complex, to be named after the Goodmans, are expected to start in spring 2016 and be completed that fall.
The complex will serve the college’s men’s and women’s soccer and softball teams, but the school, also known as Madison College, has a “memorandum of understanding” stating that the facility is also meant to be used by the community, said E.G. Schramka, executive director of the Goodman Foundation.
Schramka said the foundation will require MATC to give an annual report every March on community use of the facilities.
The new fields will host community sporting events, including summer camps for disadvantaged youths and state soccer and softball tournaments, the school said.
Robert Goodman, a legendary local softball player, and his brother always wanted to fund a “major sports complex” in Madison, Schramka said.
The foundation started trying to create such a complex in 2005, five years before Robert Goodman died. The organization was searching for a host that was enthusiastic about the idea, had enough land and would make the facility available to the whole community.
The earlier proposal for an $18 million sports complex was abandoned in 2013 because of a lack of funding, MATC Senior Executive Tim Casper said last year. Although residents of the surrounding neighborhood swiftly opposed the proposal, Casper said the decision to scrap the plans had nothing to do with their input.
The previous proposal would have been “much more comprehensive,” MATC Athletic Director Steve Hauser said. It involved a new baseball field, soccer field and four new softball fields.
The current plan will update the soccer and softball fields in their existing footprint, he said. The school will convert the fields to turf and create stadium seating that will fit 500 people at the softball diamond and 300 at the soccer field.
Randy Charles, who lives in the neighborhood and is president of the board of the Starkweather Creek Condominium Association, opposed the previous plan because he said it would add noise and traffic and take away natural habitat. He said he thinks the plan to keep the fields in their existing footprint is a great idea.
The college will consider hosting regional and state tournaments in the updated facility, Hauser said, and will explore a partnership with the Madison School District to expand use to high school students. The partnership is in “very early stages,” the school district said.
The partnership’s first focus will be on high school softball teams, which Hauser said are in need of improved facilities. The teams would be charged a “very minimal cost,” he said, that would go toward cleaning the facility.
MATC President Jack Daniels called the gift a “touchstone moment” for the college, and said it came at a time when the need for private support of community colleges has never been greater.
MATC’s women’s soccer team had its inaugural season in fall 2014, and last year women’s softball upgraded to Division II, which allowed it to start offering players scholarships.