ITHACA, N.Y.—In the midst of the football program’s best season in recent memory, Ithaca College has announced that its football field will be receiving some renovations thanks to $3 million from graduate Monica Bertino Wooden.

The gift will fuel the replacement of the natural grass field with an artificial turf surface and the installation of lighting. The new surface will be known as the Bertino Field at Butterfield Stadium. An announcement from the school stated that the new features will “greatly expand the uses of the premier outdoor gathering space on campus.”

The construction will begin in spring 2023 and is slated to be completed by the start of football season in late summer or early fall 2023. The football team is currently 12-0, facing a semifinal matchup with North Central College in Illinois on Saturday, Dec. 3.

The school’s announcement includes that Wooden was an athlete while at Ithaca College, where she graduated in 1981 after playing softball and basketball and earned a degree in physical education. Her brother was also an Ithaca College athlete on championship football and baseball teams.

Wooden founded MercuryGate International, defined as a “pioneer in the field of supply chain logistics that provides transportation management solutions,” before selling the company in 2018.

“As an athlete and later as a youth coach, I found that one need was always constant—field time! So, I am very pleased to give back to the college that invested so much in me,” said Wooden.

“We are so grateful for this show of support for our student-athletes and our entire campus community,” said Ithaca College President La Jerne Terry Cornish. “I am looking forward to cheering on our teams and watching other activities take place on Bertino Field at Butterfield Stadium for many years to come.”

Head football coach Michael Toerper echoed the gratitude.

“I love Butterfield Stadium and I respect the tradition, blood, sweat, and tears that have been accumulated on that field for decades,” said Toerper. “I do believe, however, that we must consider and value the experience of our student-athletes. Replacing the grass field with an artificial surface and adding lights will allow us to practice using the same field conditions that most of our competitors have. The consistency and efficiency of our practice situation will allow even greater attention to detail in our training and preparation, not to mention the benefits it will bring to recruiting.”

Butterfield Stadium is currently used primarily for home football games, meaning that for most of the year it sits idle, the school said, but the hope is that will change with a more durable surface.

“Monica Bertino Wooden is truly an inspirational leader, accomplished entrepreneur, and thoughtful philanthropist,” said Susan Bassett, associate vice president and director of intercollegiate athletics and campus recreation. “It means more than words can convey to have a former teammate and Delta Psi Kappa sister make such a commitment to Bomber success. The value of this generous gift impacts our football program, first and foremost, but extends beyond that, as these alterations will greatly increase opportunities for the use of Butterfield Stadium by other athletics programs and the wider campus community.”

The college also touted that the new surface would have positive environmental impacts for stormwater runoff and energy consumption. A fundraising campaign is planned to help to move track and field facilities to Yavits Field.

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is the Managing Editor at the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at mbutler@ithacavoice.com