Published August 21, 2019
Matt Otwinowski and his UB football teammates won’t miss the 35-minute one-way treks to Orchard Park and getting stuck in rush hour traffic.
Kara Daly and her women’s soccer teammates won’t miss the smaller-than-regulation-size field they’ve had to use at the Village Glen Soccer Complex in Williamsville whenever inclement weather has forced them indoors.
For Otwinowski and Daly, and the hundreds of other student-athletes at UB, the freshly opened Murchie Family Fieldhouse on the North Campus is a sigh of relief of epic proportions. Hundreds of people — including UB Athletics coaches, teams and staff — gathered inside the 92,000-square-foot facility on Tuesday to celebrate its official opening. (Several teams, including football and soccer, began using the fieldhouse over the summer.)
Otwinowski talked about the logistics and time involved with traveling to the ADPRO Sports Training House, the Buffalo Bills’ indoor training facility located next to New Era Field in Orchard Park, for team practices and offseason workouts.
“Sometimes, players would have to leave early for class, or we would be stuck on the interstate in early-morning traffic. Now, we have this great facility to use at our disposal at any time,” said Otwinowski, a senior accounting major and Bulls linebacker from LaPorte, Ind.
For athletics programs located in the northern U.S., and especially in Western New York where the weather can change in an instant, an indoor training facility is a must-have. It’s also a significant recruiting tool, one that’s likely to lure some of the top student-athletes to Buffalo, regardless of where in the world they are coming from.
A large inflatable Victor E. Bull greets visitors, including Boldly Buffalo Steering Committee member Daniel Sperazza and Kamlesh and Satish Tripathi (center), to the Murchie Family Fieldhouse.
Connie Gicewicz (left), wife of the late Edmond J. "Doc" Gicewicz, greets Tunney Murchie and his daughter, Brittany.
“Having gone through the recruitment process myself, I am certain that when future prospects come for visits, this facility will be the highlight of their tour, and many will choose UB because of it,” said Daly, a senior business administration major from Orchard Park.
Both Otwinowski and Daly thanked Tunney Murchie, the UB alumnus and benefactor whose vision and generosity made the fieldhouse possible, along with contributions from a variety of additional donors. Murchie received his degree in management from UB in 1975 and his MBA a year later. He played hockey for the Bulls from 1971-73, and was an assistant coach for one season.
Murchie and his wife, Deanna, a 1974 UB graduate, attended Tuesday’s ceremony, but Tunney did not speak — “His humility supersedes his generosity,” said daughter Brittany Murchie, who spoke on behalf of the family.
In her remarks, Brittany Murchie talked about the supportive nature of the Murchie family, and the impact that athletics have had on their lives.
“In essence, our family is a team,” she said. “And so it seems fitting that this beautiful complex will be home for many teams to come, who will in their journeys support each other through the ups and downs, and like this institution, commit to the betterment of the greater good.”
The words “game-changer,” “historic” and “symbolic” were used often on Tuesday. President Satish K. Tripathi called it “a remarkable day” for the UB community.
“In opening the doors of the Murchie Family Fieldhouse, we are opening the doors to exciting new opportunities for our student-athletes to excel in their respective sports,” Tripathi said, adding that UB Athletics’ upward trajectory in recent years has yielded much national attention for the Bulls and the university.
“This premier indoor practice facility will help us build on that excitement and momentum so we can achieve even greater success with each new season,” he said.
UB Director of Athletics Mark Alnutt said having a facility like the Murchie Family Fieldhouse on campus will minimize the time constraints associated with traveling to other practice facilities. It may not seem like much, but to a student-athlete whose daily schedule is already jampacked with practice and schoolwork, reclaiming 30 to 90 minutes of the day is a big deal.
“It’s about providing a first-class experience for student-athletes,” he said.
Alnutt noted there will be opportunities for all UB students to use the facility by participating in intramurals and other UB Recreation programming.
Paul Peck, the “Voice of the Bulls,” emceed the event, which concluded with refreshments and self-guided tours of the facility.