URI ATHLETICS - FACILITIES
Built in memory of former Rhode Island baseball and football coach, Bill Beck Field originally opened in 1966 and has since served as the home of the Rams.
In November of 2007, an anonymous donor pledged $1-million to the Rhody baseball program, initiating facility renovations designed to equip the Rams with one of the finest ballparks in all of New England. Seventeen months and $1.4-million dollars later, the 2009 Rhode Island baseball team had a completely resurfaced field consisting of the same artificial FieldTurf used by the Minnesota Twins, Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays. Also included in the renovation project were a new backstop, scoreboard, fencing and bullpens.
In 2011, the Rams added an indoor batting facility along the right field side of Bill Beck Field. Aside from providing URI with an outstanding competitive advantage, these facility upgrades allow the team to spend more time on the field throughout the year.
The next phase of Bill Beck Field's renovation project - which will begin after additional fundraising goals are met - will feature an improved grandstand/bleacher/pressbox setup.
Keaney Gymnasium, home of the Rhode Island volleyball team, opened in 1953. Keaney Gym was the former home of the Rhode Island men's and women's basketball teams until 2002, when both teams moved to the Ryan Center.
The 3,385-seat gym (3,885 capacity including standing room) was the home of the men's basketball teams from 1953-2002, during which time the Rams compiled a 320-168 (.656 winning percentage). Keaney Gymnasium was renovated in the early 1990s when chair back seats were installed at courtside and bleacher seating was added in the old stage area.
Keaney Gymnasium is named in honor of Rhode Island's winningest coach, the legendary Frank Keaney. Keaney coached the Rams from 1920-48 and amassed a record of 401-124 (.764 winning percentage) in 28 seasons at the helm. Keaney - credited with inventing the fast break - retired from active coaching in 1948 and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1960. He also served as football coach from 1920-40 and is the school's second winningest gridiron coach with 70 victories.
The Mackal Fieldhouse track, which opened in 1991, received a $1.4 million upgrade in 2011 to Mondo FTX surfacing, the same surface that was used for the 2008 Beijing Olympic track and will be used for the 2012 London Olympic track. The track features a six-lane, 200-meter indoor track, including eight lanes on the straightaways, a weight and fitness center, and four basketball courts. The facility annually hosts the Atlantic 10 Conference Men's and Women's Indoor Track & Field Championships. Mackal Fieldhouse also houses the administrative offices for the athletic department.
Meade Stadium is home to the Rhode Island football team. The stadium was constructed in 1928 and named Meade Field after local politician John E. "Jack" Meade, a local politician and devoted alumnus who was said to have never missed a home football or basketball game until his death in 1972 at the age of 78.
A football field house was constructed in 1933 and a year later the west concrete stands were built to accommodate 1,500 fans. The facility was renamed Meade Stadium in 1978 when a 50-row concrete, aluminum and steel grandstand was opened, bringing the seating capacity to 8,000. Larger press box, concession and restroom facilities were added in 1980, new natural turf was installed in 1983 and a computerized scoreboard was added in 1986.
During the summer of 2000, the field house and west grandstand were demolished to make room for the Ryan Center, reducing the seating capacity of Meade Stadium to 5,180. In the summer of 2002 a new underground irrigations system was installed and the football team moved into their spacious, state-of-the-art locker room facilities in the Ryan Center.
In the summer of 2003, the press box was redone, with new windows, flooring and a paint job.
How Meade Stadium Got Its Name
Back in 1915, the yearbook photo was a hallowed ritual. At what was then Rhode Island State College, the senior class numbered in the dozens, and each graduate enjoyed a half-page spread. But John Edward Meade settled for a single line in what was mockingly called "The Phantom Roll," the handful of graduates too busy, bashful or blase to pose.
Nearly a century later, John Meade is still here if in name only. Since 1936 the football field has been called Meade Stadium, but the average fan can tell you more about Hofstra's backup punter than about the man with his name on every program cover. It's all Meade's fault, of course, for dying in 1972 at the age of 78. Out of sight, out of mind. At the time, most Rhode Islanders over 40 could recall when the Nasonville native had been a power in state politics, a respected civil engineer, an Army officer in both world wars and a member of the Committee of Three that ruled the college from 1935 to '38.
The Committee of Three oversaw the new Board of Regents, which took over after the Democrats seized control of the state government for the first time in decades in the disputed election of 1934, a donnybrook that makes Bush-Gore look like a Cub Scout picnic. Meade was a prominent Democrat in the General Assembly and a protege of Sen. Theodore Green and Gov. Robert Quinn. With New Deal public works money pouring in, the Regents dotted the campus with new buildings. By coincidence, two of them were named Green Hall and Quinn Hall. Meanwhile the football field -- then little more than a field -- took on Meade's name. It was a controversial move, bestowing tributes on active politicos, as opposed to retired ones, and it played a minor role in the Democrats' demise in 1938.
Meade soon left the board and the Assembly, but he remained a leading civic figure for another 25 years as Providence's deputy director of public works. And when the college needed him, he rendered valuable service as a behind-the-scenes fixer. In the late '40s, when the estimated cost of Keaney Gym spiraled out of control, Meade saved the project by getting the Assembly to cough up more money. In the early '50s, he helped grease the skids for the college's hotly debated elevation to university status. Meade was a fixture at Ram football games, even though he never touched a pigskin as an undergraduate. Yet he left an everlasting imprint on Rhode Island football.
The University of Rhode Island opened the doors to the $54 million, 7,657-seat Thomas M. Ryan Center in June of 2002 and fans have flocked to Kingston for men's and women's basketball games and several big name concerts in the state-of-the-art arena. The women's basketball team won the first-ever regular season game in the Ryan Center 53-39 over Kent State on Nov. 22, 2002 and four days later the men made their official debut in the building with a 73-71 overtime upset over the University of Southern California. Ever since the Ryan Center has been rocking with the men's team drawing a standing room only crowd of 8,121 against No. 3-ranked Pittsburgh in 2002 and the women's team setting its attendance record with 3,402 fans against St. Bonaventure on Jan. 16. Both the men's and women's teams more than doubled their attendance from the last year in Keaney Gymnasium.
The Ryan Center boasts three tiers of seating in the arena to bring all 7,657 seats within 74-feet of the court, creating a frenzied atmosphere. Every seat in the Ryan Center has a chairback, and there are eight luxury suites that overlook both the Meade Stadium football field and the Ryan Center basketball court. The building stands 86-feet high and includes three lighthouse towers that mark the north and south entrances. The Ryan Center is also home to the football teams' locker room, along with athletic department offices, training rooms, players' lounges and a souvenir store.
A multi-purpose facility, the Ryan Center seats 9,000 for concerts, lectures and other community events. Popular acts such as Carrie Underwood, Bob Dylan, No Doubt, Counting Crows, John Mayer, and the Dave Matthews Band have highlighted the Ryan Center's concert stage.
Amenities include two state-of-the-art, full-color scoreboards with video capabilities. The house sound system, designed with acoustic provisions, provides a full range of high power sound to all seats in the venue including the concourse and Alumni Room, making it suitable for any event.
The arena can also be subdivided to provide a half-house venue for smaller functions. The event floor seating retracts to provide space suitable for family shows or trade conferences. A portable stage is available for concerts and performance events and the event floor itself can seat up to 500 for a banquet.
The athletic complex includes the Tootell Physical Education Center, which houses two gymnasiums, weight rooms and three swimming and diving pools for use by the University's student-athletes and the campus community.
The URI Soccer Complex, which has been the home of University of Rhode Island soccer since 1976, is one of the finest collegiate soccer facilities in the Atlantic 10 and Northeast Region. The playing surface has been completely re-graded with 400 cubic yards of soil and re-sodded to give the Rams a flat playing surface. New bleachers were installed to replace the old iron and wooden structure and 12 handicap seats were added, bringing the capacity to 2,000.
The project was a combination of anonymous donors, the Rhode Island Ram Athletic Association and boosters of the soccer program. The men's and women's soccer teams were involved in the demolition of the former stands and construction of the foundation on which the current bleachers rest.
Fiore Industries donated concrete for the construction and Cullion Concrete donated labor. Mooresfield Builders oversaw the project and John Pasture was the project manager for the foundation. H. Charles Tapalian donated the funding for the bleachers which were constructed by Seating Solutions. Lalham Excavators and URI grounds superintendent Charlie Hovanesian also helped with the project.
The turf for the field was provided by URI alumnus Dave Wallace at cost and was installed by Kingston Turf and Brian Bouchard, with URI professor Dr. Richard Sullivan providing consulting.
Previous improvements to the URI Soccer Complex include the addition of lights in 1996 and a sprinkler system in 2003. Once additional fundraising goals have been met, permanent dugouts for the home and visiting teams will be constructed as well as a new, three-level press box along the north sideline, overlooking the soccer field and also serving as a filming deck for both soccer games and football practices.
The URI Soccer Complex has hosted the Atlantic 10 Men's Soccer Championship five times (1991, 1995, 1998, 2000, 2009) and the Atlantic 10 Women's Soccer Championship three time (1996, 2001, 2010).
Additionally, the facility has hosted NCAA Men's Tournament games in 1996 and 2000.
The URI Softball Complex, which is fully-enclosed and includes bullpens and a batting cage, has been the site of three Atlantic 10 Championships. The batting cages are located behind the third-base dugout, and there are bullpens located on each side of the field for home and visitors. The outfield also features a sprinkler system, which helps keep the outfield grass green throughout the season.