BIDDEFORD -The University of New England has received $10 million from the Harold Alfond Foundation to build a new athletics complex and support the university’s health-care work force education programs.

The gift, announced Friday by Greg Powell, chairman of the foundation’s board of trustees, is the largest gift the university has ever received.

“This is truly transformative,” said university President Danielle Ripich.

Previously, the largest gift to UNE was $2.5 million, donated by the Harold Alfond Foundation in 1995, for construction of the Harold Alfond Center for Health Sciences, where Friday’s announcement was made.

The 105,000-square-foot Harold Alfond Athletics Complex will be built between the new Sokokis Hall and the university’s new blue turf athletic field along Route 9. The complex will include an ice hockey rink, a basketball court, classroom space, a fitness center, multipurpose indoor practice courts and seating for 3,000 people.

Powell said the gift calls for the university to put “a shovel in the ground by next spring and raise $7 million” to match the gift.

“I think we can do that,” Ripich said.

An athletics complex has been part of the university’s master plan for expansion, which started with the addition of Sokokis Hall and the blue turf field.

The athletics department is now housed in the university’s campus center. At the end of each sports season, students complete evaluations of the program, said Kim Allen, director of athletics. A number of the evaluations this fall indicated a need for more space, she said.

“We’ve had a space issue for a long time, not just for athletics, but intramural sports as well,” Allen said. “It was a piece of the puzzle that was missing at UNE.”

In addition to providing new space for athletic programs, the complex will have more seating for basketball games, which have been well-attended in the past. The ice rink will bring the university’s hockey team to campus. Since it was formed in 2008, the team has practiced and played home games at the Biddeford Ice Arena.

With the potential to seat 3,000 people, the complex will be the largest gathering place on campus.

“I predict this will become the heart of all the activities,” Ripich said, adding that it will be ideal for large events, championship games or concerts.

Of the $10 million from the Harold Alfond Foundation, $3 million will be dedicated to health-care work force development at the university.

UNE uses an education model that emphasizes primary care and focuses on the real-life clinical world of patient care and modern medicine.

“The $3 million that the Alfond Foundation is providing us will allow us to collaborate with health care institutions to educate the next generation of students and go into the future with this new model of health care,” Ripich said.

Staff Writer Emma Bouthillette can be contacted at 791-6325 or at:

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