Transylvania University unveiled plans Saturday for a new $8 million athletics complex on Fourth Street.
The facility will serve the school's men's and women's soccer and lacrosse teams as well as the field hockey and track and field teams.
It will feature a lighted artificial turf field surrounded by an eight-lane track, as well as a grandstand with seating capacity of 800, a concession stand and press box.
An existing building on the property that once was used by a roofing company will be renovated to house coaches' offices, locker rooms and a training room.
The facility is expected to be ready for use this fall.
Transylvania President Owen Williams said at Saturday's groundbreaking for the complex that the addition marks the start of a "massive expansion" for the university under its new strategic plan, Transylvania 2020.
Moving many of the school's athletics teams to the complex will free up other sites on campus for possible academic and residential use, he said.
Specifics of that plan have not been determined.
The project "represents a bold approach to the university's future," said Brian Wood, a member of the school's board of trustees, noting that the location is in a neighborhood outside the current campus boundaries.
The 9.7 acres at 555 West Fourth Street adjoin the Eastern State Hospital campus, which is soon to be occupied by Bluegrass Community and Technical College.
Williams said he initially thought the property was "an absolutely horrid site," but that it was "amazing how beautiful it started to be in short order."
Coaches and student athletes said the complex is needed.
Transylvania currently does not have a track for track events, and the men's lacrosse team, which just started its first season, has been playing at Bryan Station High School.
Mike Fulton, head women's soccer coach, said the team has been sharing a grass field with other teams. He said it will be nice for the team not to have to worry about tearing up the turf on the new artificial turf field.
Karla Ward: (859) 231-3314. Twitter: @HLpublicsafety