Lancaster Bible College took another step forward with its athletics programs Monday morning. The college held a groundbreaking ceremony at the site of what will become Willis & Martha Herr Stadium.

The stadium will surround the existing Donald H. Funk Field, a turf field that was added in 2018.

“This is stage two,” LBC athletic director Pete Beers said by phone last week when discussing the project.

The turf field is home to LBC’s NCAA Division III men’s and women’s soccer, field hockey and women’s lacrosse teams. Many other squads utilize the field throughout the year, as do local recreational programs. The current field has metal bleachers that seat about 250 people.

“This will be a 700-seat stadium,” Beers said. “We will have a concession stand with public bathrooms. This is for audiences moreso than it is for players.”

Seating will go along one side of the field, and a brand-new façade will go along the back side of the bleachers. Construction will begin next week, with a target date of completion being by the start of the fall season. In the meantime, LBC’s women’s lacrosse team will still be able to practice and play as construction is ongoing on the exterior of the turf field.

“It was important to our administration that this phase be taken care of before we reach out and do other things that are on our to-do list,” Beers said of the new stadium. “I think everyone wants to know, ‘Why?’ This is what we’re trying to do right now. It will be nice for parents and students to enjoy, not only our intercollegiate sports, but club and intramural sports as well.”

And potentially attract more students to the college.

“We are passionate about LBC’s growth because we want to extend and expand our mission,” LBC senior Tyler Norris said in a press release. “The more students we bring into LBC, the more people who are shaped as disciples, and it is committed disciples who really make an impact for God’s kingdom.”

Norris is member of the LBC men’s basketball program. He’s also part of a student-led group that, over the last two months, has raised more than $50,000 towards the $2 million stadium project. The remaining cost is being covered by two monetary gifts to the college, including the lead gift from Willis and Martha Herr.

The Herrs are residents of Manor Township best known as the longtime owners of Herr’s Fruit Farm. They’re also Penn Manor grads and ambassadors of the Penn Manor Education Foundation. Willis Herr is a former president of that foundation, and is a member of Penn Manor’s Distinguished Graduate Wall of Honor.

“The Herrs have been longtime friends and donors to Lancaster Bible College,” LBC vice president of advancement Scott Keating said in an email. “And very much believe in the education of young people, the principles found in God’s Word and the teachings of Jesus Christ, their Lord and Savior.”

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