HOLLAND - The game of soccer will be in the spotlight Saturday, Oct. 17 as Hope College celebrates the opening of its new Van Andel Soccer Stadium, located at 11th St. and Fairbanks Ave. in Holland.
A daylong series of events, all open to the public free of charge, will begin with exhibition games featuring an estimated 350 youth soccer players representing the West Michigan Fire Juniors, Grand Rapids Crew Juniors, USA Soccer Holland and Holland Recreation Youth Soccer.
Hope's men's and women's soccer teams will each play Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) opponents, the Flying Dutch against Trine at 3 p.m. and the Flying Dutchmen against Kalamazoo at 7 p.m.
In between the games, a formal dedication will be held beginning at 5 p.m. Immediately following, a community picnic open to attendees of the dedication will be held until 7 p.m. on the front lawn of the nearby DeVos Fieldhouse. Tickets for the picnic will be distributed as persons enter the stadium for the dedication.
The day's activities will also feature personal appearances by three professional soccer players, including West Michigan native and two-time Olympic gold medalist Lindsay Tarpley. A member of the Chicago Red Stars of the Women's Professional Soccer League (WPSL), Tarpley will be joined by Brittany Bock and Manya Makoski who are members of the Los Angeles Sol of the WPSL. A special video appearance by Dutch footballer Rudd van Nistelrooij will highlight the dedication ceremony.
The professional players lead an interactive instruction session for the youth players and will sign autographs after the dedication.
The day's events will conclude with a fireworks show best visible from the stadium seating.
Construction of the stadium was made possible thanks to a lead gift from the David & Carol Van Andel Foundation. Both David and Carol are Hope College graduates. David serves on the college's Board of Trustees.
Designed to complement Hope's recently expanded athletic complex, the stadium was built on the site of the college's existing soccer fields. The state-of-the-art facility includes stadium-style and bleacher seating for 1,400 fans, a concession stand, public restrooms, two locker rooms, a training room, a meeting room for visiting teams along with a ticket booth and press box. It features terrace areas for picnics and tailgating as well as lighting for night games and artificial turf. The $5.3 million project included establishment of a maintenance endowment.