Saint Mary's Breaks Ground for Recreation Center and Ballpark

By Teresa Castle

You could almost hear the cries of "Play ball" as Saint Mary's College broke ground this spring for a new 1,500-seat baseball stadium and announced plans for a $30 million athletics and recreation corridor. The centerpiece of the project is the 52,000-square-foot Joseph L. Alioto Recreation Center, named for the 1937 alumnus who served as mayor of San Francisco from 1968 to 1976.

This project "will create a much-needed center for academic, personal and recreational activities and contribute to the good health and successful competitive spirit of Saint Mary's," said Brother Ronald Gallagher, FSC, the College president, as he looked out over the site. the outline of the new ballpark was chalked on the lush, green lawn, and a stand to one side offered free popcorn and Cracker Jacks.

The new recreation and aquatics center will feature:

  • An 8,000-square-foot fitness center with weight training and cardio areas
  • A pool designed to accommodate lap swimming, lessons and water sports
  • A climbing wall
  • Multipurpose rooms for group fitness classes
  • Outdoor patio areas for socializing, studying< and community events
  • Three full-sized courts for indoor and intramural sports, including basketball, soccer and volleyball.

Athletic Director Mark Orr welcomed the new complex, saying it will provide "a wonderful opportunity for students, faculty and staff to engage with each other" and will be a boon to recruitment "not just for student athletes but for all students."

The College has raised $21 million so far for the project and will raise the remaining amount over the next year. The Kalmanovitz Charitable Foundation has provided the lead gift of $10 million for the recreation center. The sons of Raymond Syufy '40 and their wives — Raymond W. '84 and Ricki Syufy, and Joseph '87 and Michelle Growney Syufy '88 — are also major supporters of the project. The K. H. Hofmann Foundation, led by Kenneth Hofmann '45 and his daughter, Lisa Hofmann Morgan '81, is the lead donor for the ballpark.

Among the honored guests at the groundbreaking were Moraga Mayor Karen Mendonca, Regent Emeritus Bernie Orsi '65, and Trustees Thomas O'Donnell '60, Raymond W. Syufy '84, Louisa Garaventa-Binswanger '77, Steve M. Smith '85 and Kathleen Sullivan Alioto, widow of Joseph Alioto.

Jedd Soto, head baseball coach, said the new ball field will help Saint Mary's continue the legacy of Gaels baseball. Baseball was the first intercollegiate sport played at Saint Mary's, dating back to 1889, and 62 Gaels have gone on to play in Major League baseball, including Hall of Famer harry Hooper, Von Hayes, Tom Candiotti and Mark Teahen, the third baseman for the Chicago White Sox.

First-year students Dominique Sala and Don La Barre were excited about the new recreation center. Sala, who is working to put together a women's lacrosse club team, said she was thrilled with the project because the current athletic facilities on campus "are mostly for the athletic teams, but the new facility will be for everyone."

For more information, including artist's renderings and ways to contribute to the new Athletics and Recreation Corridor, visit