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UMass announces McGuirk upgrades

Bubble domes, video board and hospitality plaza to be built.

Ohio v Massachusetts Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images

New toys and new improvements are heading to Amherst in time for the new era of UMass football.

The UMass athletic department announced Thursday it will be installing a bubble-domed practice facility, an upgraded video and auxiliary board, new sound system and hospitality plaza later this year.

The practice space will have what UMass officials are calling an “air-supported” and “seasonal dome” over a new 240-foot wide, 400-foot long turf field. It will be located behind the Martin and Richard Jacobson Press and Skybox Complex.

A UMass athletic department press release on the announcement said the new field will be utilized by several UMass teams, club sports and intramurals.

The video board will be 48 feet high and more than 20 feet high. The new hospitality plaza will be on the south end of the stadium and will have food and beverage options to, hopefully for Minutemen fans, watch that fancy new video board show all the UMass touchdowns in vivid high definition.

There upgrades were largely made possible by a series of donations to the athletic program.

”This project will have a long-term positive impact on our athletic department, fans who visit McGuirk Alumni Stadium and UMass students,” said Director of Athletics Ryan Bamford in the press release. “The South End Zone project will give us some terrific entertainment space and the new HD videoboard and sound system will enhance the fan experience inside McGuirk. We are also thrilled with the new indoor turf facility and know it will give our sport programs and student body training opportunities during the winter months.”

Speaking of new, first-year head coach Walt Bell is quoted by the athletic department’s website as believing these upgrades will also help on the recruiting trail.

Insert “Bell-s and whistles” joke here.

All of the upgrades, other than the giant bubble that will go over the new practice facility, are scheduled to be ready for the start of the 2019 season. The first home game at McGuirk this upcoming season is slated for Saturday, Sept. 7, when the Minutemen host the Southern Illinois Salukis from the FCS.

Other opponents set to visit in 2019—and have their teeth presumably rattled by the new sound system—include Coastal Carolina, Akron, UConn, Liberty and BYU.