The university held a special groundbreaking Friday, Feb. 3, to kick off construction of its new football stadium and student union building. The event was attended by an estimated 500 people. Guests were welcomed by the pep band, cheerleaders, and members of the Crusader football team.

President Randy O’Rear started the event by tracing some of the history of the UMHB football team, which in its 14 years of existence has won or shared nine American Southwest Conference championship titles and included more than 200 All-American players.

“Our football program has a proud past and enthusiastic goals for the future, but there has been one thing missing: a home stadium to call our own,” O’Rear said. “Today we begin a new chapter in the history of Cru Football.”

Vice President of Student Life Byron Weathersbee discussed the role that the new student union would play in the lives of students.

“A building like this is a unifying force that brings students together,” Weathersbee said. “It provides a forum for divergent viewpoints and creates an environment where everyone feels welcome.”

Head Coach Pete Fredenburg was joined at the podium by coaches and players from the last decade and a half of UMHB football. He looked back on his first meeting with Dr. Jerry Bawcom and athletic director Ben Shipp to discuss starting a football program at the university. “At that point they didn’t have helmets, they didn’t have uniforms, but they had a dream,” Fredenburg said.

The new stadium and student union building will be built near the center of the campus on University Drive, adjacent to the Frank and Sue Mayborn Campus Center. The combined cost of the student union building and the football stadium is expected to be more than $50 million. The timeline for the project calls for the complex to be completed by the summer of 2013.

“The building of these two projects is not only an accomplishment, but also a commitment to keep working toward our goal of becoming the university of choice for Christian higher education in the Southwest,” O’Rear said.