Berry College is relocating the site of its planned football stadium “out of respect for the nesting site of Georgia’s most famous pair of bald eagles,” school officials said this week.
Work on Valhalla stadium, which will also host lacrosse and track and field, is set to begin this fall, according to the school. The stadium is expected to be completed by the 2015-16 academic year, and the football team is scheduled to play its home games at Barron Stadium in downtown Rome, Ga., a few miles from campus.
The original site selected for the stadium was located near the nest of bald eagles. The school has set up cameras that live stream the eagles’ action; the cameras have garnered more than 17 million views and a corresponding Facebook page has more than 60,000 followers.
“Everywhere we went, people were in awe of the eagles and grateful that we had set up the streaming video,” Steve Briggs, Berry’s president, said in a news release. “The eagles are mesmerizing—better than any reality television show. And the truth is—we are entranced by them as well.”
The eagles built their nest in the spring of 2012 and returned that fall. They produced a pair of eaglets in 2013, and a third eaglet hatched in February; the younger eaglet just took its inaugural flight.
The school has raised more than 80 percent of the needed $6.9 million to fund the stadium’s construction. The school previously announced Valhalla’s field will be named “Williams Field” in honor of Bob and Kay Williams, longtime supporters of Berry’s intercollegiate athletics program who donated $500,000 for the project.
“Generous donors are making this facility possible, and we are ready to begin preliminary site work this summer,” Brian Erb, vice president of finance, said in a news release. “Relocating the stadium requires re-working the site engineering plans and construction documents but this location will simplify the construction schedule and minimize interference with campus activities.”
Berry, which is gearing up for its second season of play, played a pair of games at Barron Stadium last year. The Vikings, which finished its first season of play with a 1-9 record, opens its sophomore campaign on Sept. 6 at Maryville.
The school has announced the addition of more than 40 new recruits for the 2014 season.