Spring Arbor University announces major renovations to SAU Fieldhouse


an artist's rendering of the fieldhouse, at another angleThe Spring Arbor University Fieldhouse, the home of SAU’s basketball and volleyball teams, will soon receive a $1.2 million complete facility renovation. Construction will begin at the conclusion of the 2017-18 academic year, with anticipated completion by fall 2018. This state-of-the-art facility will ensure the stability and growth of SAU Athletics for decades to come. This space will also allow for the greater Spring Arbor, Michigan community to continue to enjoy collegiate level athletics at SAU.

The Fieldhouse will be renamed the McDonald Athletic Center (MAC), in honor of former Spring Arbor High School and Junior College coach and teacher, Donald A. “Mac” McDonald. McDonald served at Spring Arbor from 1945-71, and was inducted into the Spring Arbor Athletic Hall of Fame in its inaugural class in 1996.

The project entails a complete transformation of the 42-year-old Fieldhouse that focuses on improving safety, functionality and enhancing the overall aesthetics. The current bleacher systems, original to the building, will be removed and replaced with new, safer bleachers that will surround all four sides of Bockwitz Court, creating an arena-style environment.

In addition to the bleachers, the facility will receive an upgraded sound system, scoreboard and LED video display to help promote the fan experience. The hardwood floor will also be updated with the new Athletics logo, which the department unveiled last spring. Other improvements to the facility will including converting the current press box to a suite, improving the training room and team laundry equipment and renovations of the public restrooms.

“The newly renovated McDonald Athletic Center will offer the best possible experience for Spring Arbor University athletes,” said SAU president Dr. Brent Ellis. “We are extremely thankful for the generosity of Charlie and Beth (McDonald HS ’61, JC ’63, 65) Kuntzleman, who provided the lead gift for this project. To honor Coach McDonald in this way is a long-lasting tribute to the mission he undertook almost 75 years ago — guiding Spring Arbor University to pioneer a vibrant athletic program, one that thrives to this day.”

“I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am about the MAC project,” said athletic director and head men’s basketball coach Ryan Cottingham. “To think where we started as a program and institution, and where we are today, I couldn’t be more excited about the direction that we’re headed.”

“The improved facility will undoubtedly increase visibility and impact the ability to recruit top-flight student athletes,” commented Cottingham. “One thing will remain constant, and that is the coaches’ relentless discipline borne of passion to offer the best possible experience to Spring Arbor University athletes. As they have done for decades, the department’s coaches will offer the best of themselves to the students they lead and work tirelessly to fulfill their mission of developing within our student athletes a depth of faith, strength of character and skills of leadership essential for a lifetime of service to Jesus Christ.”

If you would like to learn more about getting involved in this project or have questions, please contact Matt Gin at matt.gin@arbor.edu. For renderings of the Fieldhouse renovation visit www.saucougars.com/mac.

The SAU Fieldhouse project is the fourth major facility project undertaken by the university in the last seven years. The other projects are the Cougar Soccer Complex (2011), the Ronald L. and Marvel C. Jones Tennis Complex (2016) and the Ralph G. Walker Memorial Track & Field Complex (2017).

An artist's rendering of the new fieldhouse


About Donald A. “Mac” McDonald

Mac served Spring Arbor as both a mathematics teacher and a coach. He was the basketball coach at Spring Arbor High School when it first began interscholastic competition in 1948. He retired from the position in 1958, but came back to coach the final team in 1961 before the high school was discontinued. His 1955 team had a 20-1 record, and the 1952 team, which is in the SAU Athletics Hall of Fame, went to the state Class D quarterfinals.

During all of his 26 years at Spring Arbor, Mac taught math in the high school, junior college and college. His high school coaching career included 13 years with basketball, 12 years with track, seven years with baseball, five years with cross country and nine years with intramural football. When Spring Arbor moved from a junior college to a four-year college, he also assumed the coaching responsibilities for golf.

Mac was also an alumnus of Spring Arbor, graduating from both the high school and the junior college. He completed his bachelor’s degree at Eastern Michigan University, earned his master’s degree from the University of Michigan and did advanced study at the University of Michigan and Wayne State. During World War II, before coming to Spring Arbor, he taught airplane mechanics and mathematics at Henry Ford Naval Training School at Dearborn, Michigan.

His church and community were also a very important part of his life. He was an active member of the Spring Arbor Free Methodist Church.

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