Cornell’s Department of Athletics and Physical Education has announced plans to build an indoor sports and recreation facility on Tower Road. The facility will be called Meinig Fieldhouse, in memory of former Board of Trustees chair and university benefactor Peter C. Meinig ’61.
The 91,950-square-foot facility, which will be adjacent to Robert J. Kane Sports Complex (track and Berman Field) and behind Bartels Hall, will include a 120-by-60-yard turf field, scoreboard, spectator area and storage spaces. The fieldhouse will enable year-round play, including limited competition events, training and skills development for varsity and recreational student-athletes alike. This project will also include the rebuild of Marsha Dodson Field, Cornell’s field hockey facility adjacent to Alumni Fields.
Along with support from the university, a core group of benefactors has committed $32.5 million toward the design and construction of the fieldhouse; additional donor support is currently being sought for the remainder of the project’s estimated $55 million total cost. Construction is expected to begin in the fall of 2024, with opening planned for 2026.
Its location on central campus will provide students an accessible hub for recreation.
“Athletics and physical education are important parts of the Cornell experience, contributing in meaningful ways to our students’ wellness and sense of belonging,” President Martha E. Pollack said. “The new Meinig Fieldhouse will significantly enhance the opportunities available to our students to participate in both varsity athletics and recreational sports, and will serve as a welcoming place to build friendships and self-confidence.
“I am delighted to be making this important investment in our students’ opportunities for leadership and well-being,” Pollack said, “and look forward to seeing Cornellians benefit from the Meinig Fieldhouse for decades to come.”
“The Meinig Fieldhouse offers the opportunity to truly pursue greatness and to make a serious investment in wellness and competitive excellence on the campus,” said Nicki Moore, the Meakem Smith Director of Athletics and Physical Education.
The indoor field will accommodate NCAA men’s and women’s lacrosse competitions; divider curtains will allow multiple groups to use the facility simultaneously. A mezzanine will include two team rooms, restrooms, meeting rooms and offices.
In addition to NCAA student-athletes from Cornell’s 37 intercollegiate sports programs, Meinig Fieldhouse will serve club teams and recreational athletes in a multitude of activities, advancing Cornell’s commitment to well-being. Sports teams and competitors will likely be the most frequent users of the fieldhouse, but it will also be of value to the Big Red Band, Cornell Cheerleading and other groups.
“With over 7,000 Cornellians in club and intramural sports, recreational sports and outdoor activities are among the most common shared experiences we have,” said Patrick Mehler ’23, former president of Cornell’s Club Sports Council. “A regulation-size indoor field to enable students in staying physically engaged, playing sports and creating community would be a huge boon.”
The university, in partnership with anonymous donors, has created a $10 million challenge match fund to encourage donor support for the project. Gifts of $250,000 or more will be matched, dollar for dollar, until the matching funds have been exhausted.
Meinig, who died in 2017 at age 78, was chairman and former CEO of HM International Inc. of Tulsa, Oklahoma, a privately owned manufacturing and management company. Among his accomplishments as Board of Trustees chair from 2002-11, Meinig oversaw the creation of the West Campus living and learning communities and numerous other building projects aimed at improving the student and faculty experience.
In 2015, with a $50 million gift, Meinig and his family endowed the Nancy E. and Peter C. Meinig School of Biomedical Engineering, expanding and elevating what had been a department into a school within Cornell Engineering.
“For me, physical health is mental health,” said Anne Meinig Smalling ’87, daughter of Peter and Nancy ’62 Meinig and a third-generation Cornellian. She played tennis for four years; her father and grandfather also played intercollegiate sports, and her daughter, Sami Smalling ’16, M.S. ’20, participated in club sports. “We hope that the Meinig Fieldhouse becomes a place that all of our students enjoy year-round to stay healthy and build lifelong friendships.”