HOUGHTON, N.Y. (WIVB) – The first weekend of October marks homecoming at Houghton College in Allegany County, and students and alumni have something spectacular to come home to this year.
On Saturday, Kim and Terry Pegula helped cut the ribbon to formally dedicate the Kerr-Pegula Athletic Complex.
The $23 million facility includes a 115-thousand square-foot fieldhouse, a new baseball and softball stadium, an eight-lane 200-meter track, five tennis courts, weight room, cardio fitness center, and locker rooms.
“I don’t think that going by it on the outside gives you an impression of how immense it is inside. I was really kind of floored,” Shawn Hotchkiss, a 1989 Houghton College alumnus, said.
“I know all the high school track coaches in the area are drooling over this, wondering how they can get different events here!” he laughed.
Houghton College recently became part of Division III Athletics and the Empire 8 Conference.
“We’re so excited to be part of those organizations, but to have facilities to house the new sports that we needed to add to meet the requirements to be part of those organizations was a big need,” explained Harold “Skip” Lord, Houghton College’s executive director of athletics.
“At the time, I said to the athletic director, where are you going to house all of the sports? And he said, ‘Well, we’re just trusting that God is going to provide something,'” recalled Ralph Kerr, Kim Pegula’s father.
The Pegulas stepped in to fill that need, with a $12 million donation.
Kim Kerr – her maiden name – graduated from Houghton College in 1991. Her parents still live in town and remain actively involved in the college and the community.
“I talked to she and Terry about it one Thanksgiving when they were down, and asked them if they would consider being the lead gift on the complex,” Ralph Kerr said. “And they immediately said yes, they would.”
“Everyone is hyped,” said Joseph Gilligan, a sophomore at Houghton College who plays on the baseball team. “I hear that the building itself is mostly [made] from Western New York materials. So it’s helping boost small business, it’s helping boost the economy, it’s helping boost Houghton College. Just a great win-win for everyone.”
College administrators hope the new complex will help recruit new student athletes, and draw them to Houghton.
“You stand upstairs where you’re looking out the window. One side of the facility, you have the stadium or the track or the field. You look in here and you look at the potential indoors. You’re walking through the weight room or the fitness center… They can’t help but be excited about being part of something like this,” said Lord.
“Everybody that was involved in the construction and the planning of it did a super job, and it’s just ended up to be such a beautiful facility,” Kerr said.
The dedication comes the weekend before the NFL owners’ meeting, where they are expected to approve Terry and Kim Pegula’s purchase of the Buffalo Bills.
“They’re very humble people, and I don’t know that they really catch the significance that it really means to other people,” Kim’s father said. “We see it and hear it from other people all the time, and they do as well. But I think they’re just pleased that they’re able to give something back to the region.”