Wesleyan community breaks new ground at stadium site

On Tuesday, May 3, students, faculty, staff and alumni gathered at the site of the future Karen Cramer Football Stadium on the corner of Binkley Street and Avenue E for the official groundbreaking of the new football stadium. The $16.5 million project will be built in three phases, with the practice field and lighting first, followed by the track, and then finally the bleachers, press box and concessions.

Attendees were addressed by University President Frederick Slabach; Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker; the Texas Wesleyan Board of Trustee Karen Cramer, who donated $5 million to the project; and student representatives from the football and track teams. Free food and live music were also provided.

“Having an athletic stadium on Texas Wesleyan’s campus has been one of our highest priorities, because it will accomplish all three of our Engage 2025 goals,” said Slabach, referring to the university’s strategic plan to push for learning, community and leadership.

Directors and donors took part in breaking the ground.

According to Slabach, the new stadium will provide extra on-campus practice space for the football, track and field, and soccer teams. It will also serve as a location for campus-wide events or space for outside programs like Fort Worth ISD games and club sports.

“It will significantly enhance campus life through intramural sports, and provide an opportunity for student engagement, directly impacting student retention,” said Slabach. “And it will draw alumni and friends to our historic campus. Equally important, the new athletic stadium will provide economic revitalization for the university and surrounding community.”

Cramer said, “I think it’ll change the campus, the community. I think the alums will come back and be more involved. I just think it’ll make a huge difference, I really do.”

Also attending the event was John David Moritz, the president of Moritz Motors, who donated $2.5 million to the new football stadium.

Joshua Rule is a 2021 alumni who works for the Wesleyan admissions office. “We’re excited to talk about [the stadium] to prospective students. I know a lot of the track and field, as well as football players, are going to take advantage of this,” he said. “I’m excited to attend home games on campus. I think it will help bring us together more. It’s just one more thing we can do on campus, and I’m excited for our next steps.”

Football player Jonathan Nelson addresses the crowd, watched by donor Karen Cramer. (Bebhinn Tankard)

Jonathan Nelson, third year management major and football player, was one of the students who spoke at the event. “It will be nice not to have to carry my duffel bag around Fort Worth to five different fields to practice,” he joked. “But the real impact that I see is going to be on the students. Students like me are finally going to get to experience what it’s like to have a Saturday football game on their own campus.”

“It’s pretty exciting for us that we’re finally getting our own track,” said Sarays Flores, a second year exercise science major on the track team. “Stadiums gain a lot of revenue, and it will probably get the team more recognition, and it makes practice a lot easier. Our coach mentioned possibly hosting nationals here; It’s going to be a really positive thing for the school as well as the athletes.”

Jacob Dodgen, a second year accounting and finance major on the football team, stated that having a stadium on campus will make commuting to practice easier. He also said, “It’s definitely going to bring a lot more people to school. When [prospective students] see that we have our own stadium on campus, they’ll think [Texas Wesleyan] is a good place to go.”

While the stadium will not be complete before Dodgen graduates, he hopes to get to enjoy the practice field, which should be completed in Fall semester.

There was a celebratory atmosphere at the groundbreaking ceremony. (Bebhinn Tankard)