Lafayette College eyes $10 million new lacrosse center at athletic complex
- Lafayette College wants to put a turf field and an almost 22,000-square-foot field house at its athletic complex
- The new field house is expected to be finished by next spring, according to school officials
- Students called for upgrades at the complex to be part of Lafayette College’s campus master planning process
FORKS TOWNSHIP, Pa. — Lafayette College wants to build a $10 million, 22,000-square-foot fieldhouse as it overhauls and upgrade its athletic complex to better serve its student-athletes.
Lehigh Valley Planning Commission on Thursday heard more on the school’s plans to add a turf field and large field house at the Metzgar Fields Athletic Complex on Sullivan Trail in Forks Township.
Sidewalk improvements and other upgrades also are planned as part of the project.
The planning commission’s agenda identified the project as the Wallach Lacrosse Center, which Lafayette College officials had previously planned to build at the site of the Maroon Club Strength Center between the Kirby Sports Center and Bourger Varsity Football House.
The school released a rendering of the planned facility in 2021.
The new facility would feature offices and locker rooms for the men’s and women’s lacrosse teams and provide more space for multiple teams to do strength and conditioning work.
It’s expected to cost about $10 million, according to the school.
The 21,900-square-foot facility is set to be called the Wallach Sports Performance and Lacrosse Center after alumni Andrew and Dina Wallach donated a “major gift” to the project in 2021.
The F.M. Kirby Foundation is set to contribute $2 million.
Officials said in 2021 that the new facility would be built near the football stadium by next spring, but the timeline is unclear for its construction at the athletic complex.
The Metzgar Fields property also includes the Kamine Stadium and Varsity House, Oaks Stadium, Rappolt Field, the Lafayette Softball Field and the Morel Field House.
The complex sits just north of LaFarm, which serves as the “cornerstone” of the Lafayette College Sustainable Food Loop.
Lehigh Valley Planning Commission, which has about three dozen members from Lehigh and Northampton counties, unanimously backed the proposal Thursday night.
But it recommended the school consider sustainable energy systems and ways to “enhance public transit service facilities” on campus.
Forks Township Planning Commission also now is weighing the proposal, according to that body’s records.
Campus master plan
Lafayette officials in July 2022 launched a two-year, three-phase process to draft the school’s “campus master plan,” which is meant to guide the development of our campus” for the next two decades.
Much of the first year was a fact- and opinion-finding mission, with multiple listening sessions and other opportunities for students, alumni and others to weigh in.
During the “explore” phase, school officials and the Smith Group say they are analyzing “campus challenges and opportunities, with a special focus” on building conditions, parking, traffic, and landscapes and natural spaces.
“From new development, renovation, reuse, and re-purposed space to recommendations for improvements to current campus systems, the Campus Plan will provide a strong, flexible framework to help guide the college for years to come."Lafayette College statement
The “strongest ideas” from the first two phases will play a major role in the final master plan, and, thus, the school’s future, according to the school.
“From new development, renovation, reuse, and re-purposed space to recommendations for improvements to current campus systems, the Campus Plan will provide a strong, flexible framework to help guide the college for years to come," officials said.
A preliminary campus master plan is expected this fall.
SmithGroup has worked with Lafayette to develop the school’s long-term plan for building, renovating and investing in school facilities.
The company’s report on Lafayette’s campus said Metzgar Fields is the college’s “greatest available land asset,” with “significant potential for future opportunities.”