RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Whenever Virginia Union plays its next home football game, players will have a brand new surface beneath their feet.
Work on Willie Lanier Field at Hovey Stadium is nearing completion. Crews have replaced the natural grass surface with turf, giving the stadium a new look.
“That’s something that’s just a bright spot,” said Dr. Alvin Parker, Virginia Union’s head coach. “It’s something that the guys can wrap their minds around and know that the next time we’ll be playing, they’ll be on something as beautiful as this field.”
October 3 was set to be the unveiling of the new field for a home game, but for now, Parker says the Panthers will practice on the surface once they get the go-ahead to do so.
“It holds up a little bit better when it comes to the weather,” said Parker of the surface. “It’s really, really, really hard to damage.
The new field brings with it the new name. Hovey Field is no more, making way for Willie Lanier Field at Hovey Stadium. The field’s namesake is Maggie Walker Governor’s School graduate Willie Lanier, a Pro and College Football Hall of Famer who won a Super Bowl with the Kansas City Chiefs. Lanier played in the NFL from 1967-1977.
Parker was a player at Virginia Union before returning as head coach prior to the 2018 season. He’s thrilled to see the progress and understands what it means for the program.
“It puts you on line with a lot of the top facilities on the east coast or the other Division II schools,” Parker noted. “[It] even raises the bar for you a little bit. Right there, it boosts recruiting, of course retention, everything else that goes into having top class facilities.”
Parker says the program is currently awaiting word from the CIAA as to when the team can begin workouts, adding that a conference-only schedule and CIAA championship game have been pitched as ideas for a possible spring season. The league itself has made no decision on a format.
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