The University of Maine announced a $5 million gift from New Balance on Tuesday that will help fund renovations to Memorial Gym and the field house.

The gift includes a $2 million challenge grant to be matched by a $2 million capital campaign, and $3 million that will support maintenance and facilities needs at the Student Recreation and Fitness Center.

The gift also includes naming rights for 20 years. The rec center will be renamed “The New Balance Student Recreation and Fitness Center,” and when the field house is renovated it will be called “New Balance Field House.”

Athletic Director Steve Abbott said the project is targeted to begin in 2012.

“That will require us to meet an aggressive fundraising timetable but I know that we can do it,” said Abbott. “New Balance’s generosity will allow us to make the Field House a first-rate facility again.”

The gift is the largest corporate gift in UMaine history.

“We are humbled and flattered by New Balance’s generosity,” said the school president, Robert Kennedy, in a statement. “With its strong Maine connections, commitment to environmental sustainability and focus on community partnerships, New Balance is an ideal partner for the University of Maine as we make investments in the future.”

Abbott said he’s been impressed with the company’s ability to keep a Maine presence in an era when factories have closed and moved overseas.

Three of the company’s manufacturing facilities are in Maine: Norridgewock, Skowhegan and Norway.

Staff Writer Jenn Menendez can be contacted at 791-6426 or at: [email protected]

Twitter: Twitter.com/JennMenendez