Capacity Crowd Dedicates Sheakley Athletics Center Tuesday|
Aug. 28, 2012
CINCINNATI - The University of Cincinnati held its formal opening ceremony of the Sheakley Athletic Center Tuesday evening before a crowd of over 200 supporters, coaches, student-athletes and staff.
The new facility, which has already been put into use in stages, will be the home to the Bearcats lacrosse team for competition, football team for practice and - when the bubble is in place - serve as an indoor practice venue for all outdoor programs during the winter months.
The ceremony marked the completion of all construction phases of the $15 million facility. It is named for Larry Sheakley, the CEO of The Sheakley Group and lead donor to the project, and his wife, Rhonda. In his remarks during the program, UC director of athletics Whit Babcock thanked the more than 150 donors who contributed to the project and recognized Sheakley for his support.
"This is a great night to be a Bearcat," Babcock said. "We talk about three guiding principles that direct our path in UC athletics: commitment to comprehensive excellence, re-center our focus on the student-athletes and engaging the community. This facility hits on all three. It is truly excellent, it is a year-round training facility for our teams and it has already been used by the community when high schools played football here this past weekend as part of the Skyline Chili Crosstown Showdown. Thank you, Larry and Rhonda, for this visionary gift."
UC interim President Dr. Santa Ono also praised Sheakley's leadership.
"This is a remarkable facility made possibly by the remarkable gift of the Sheakleys," Ono said. "The University of Cincinnati is truly grateful to such loyal friends and benefactors."
UC Board of Trustees chair Fran Barrett and Dr. Ono shared news during their remarks that the trustees just that morning voted to bestow upon Sheakley an honorary degree.
"I owe a big part of my love for the University of Cincinnati to my (late) father, who graduated from here," said Sheakley. "I didn't graduate from college - I made it two years. I don't know who is going to be happier (about the news of his honorary degree), my mother or my father. Probably my father, because he didn't have to pay for the last two years of it!"
Sheakley also spoke to his affinity for athletics at UC and in Cincinnati.
"I'm a sports junkie, I can't help myself," said Sheakley, who is also a part owner of the Cincinnati Reds. "I love this University and I love this city. I'm from here, my children are from here. I'm proud to tell people when I travel that I'm from Cincinnati."