As the oldest college in Florida, Rollins is rooted in tradition, and one of the most prominent traditions at any college is sports. With many facilities upgrades going in the works, including a baseball stadium proposal, this brings us to a debatable question: are the prominent traditions of sports actually important to the academic institute? My argument is that it is not just important, but perhaps even a necessary factor in a well-rounded college education.
First, let me state that there is some validity to complaints regarding college athletics: the distraction from academics, the possibility of a sense of entitlement on the part of some athletes, and, our current topic of debate, the cost of constructing and maintaining facilities. Essentially, what do athletics have to do with higher education anyway? With budget shortcomings and declining revenues, faculty members or non-athletes may even resent the resources they see going toward college athletics.
And building facilities can certainly get expensive. “Rollins College and Winter Park are hoping to bring a minor league team to the city by building a new stadium. The stadium would cost $11 million, hold between three-to-four thousand fans, and would be privately funded,” state sources from WBDO.com.
After talking to Michael Miller, Director of Development at Rollins College, I have realized although it seems that there may not be a strong urgency for a new baseball stadium among a list of many sporting facilities upgrades, it appears the baseball stadium has at least publicly become one of the most prominent.
The timeline for the baseball stadium development begins right away, Michael Miller explains, “If approved, the College will begin construction as soon as possible – probably late summer/fall. Seven to eight months of construction may give us a chance to have professional baseball in 2014, but more likely, the professional team would not be able to move and play until 2015. A lot depends how fast the city lets us progress after approval and how fast we can put all the funding together. Unlike many stadiums around the country, this one will be largely privately funded.”
Miller continues to explain that a “result of bringing professional baseball to Rollins is the opportunity to re-purpose Harper Shepard Field – the current home of Rollins baseball – for Men’s and Women’s Lacrosse, Soccer, and Intramural Club Sports, including Club Football. As a semi-urban school, Rollins will be able to more than double their facilities and give all students, whether athletes or not, the chance to exercise their bodies as well as their minds.”
As Rollins moves forward with various academic projects such as the new Bush Science Center, they must also include sports as a vital part of the mission. Michael Miller finishes, “while I’m excited about this project, it is still in the ‘potential’ stage with many hoops still to be jumped through.”