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Waterloo native donates $3M to Ithaca College for new turf football field

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  • Staff Report 

A major gift from 1981 graduate Monica Bertino Wooden, who grew up with her brother in Waterloo will fund the replacement of the natural-grass field with artificial turf and the installation of lighting at Ithaca College’s Butterfield Stadium. The playing surface will be named Bertino Field at Butterfield Stadium in recognition of her donation of $3 million for the project, which will greatly expand the uses of the premier outdoor gathering space on campus.

Wooden played softball and basketball as a student-athlete, earning her bachelor’s degree in physical education. Her brother John Bertino ’80 played on both the 1979 football and 1980 baseball teams that won national championships.

A longtime resident of Tampa, Florida, Wooden spent the early part of her professional career with IBM. In 2000 she co-founded MercuryGate International, a pioneer in the field of supply chain logistics that provides transportation management solutions, serving as its chief executive officer until selling the company in 2018.

“As an athlete and later as a youth coach, I found that one need was always constant—field time! So, I am very pleased to give back to the college that invested so much in me,” said Wooden.

“We are so grateful for this show of support for our student-athletes and our entire campus community,” said Ithaca College President La Jerne Terry Cornish. “I am looking forward to cheering on our teams and watching other activities take place on Bertino Field at Butterfield Stadium for many years to come.”

Head football coach Michael Toerper, who guided his team to an undefeated regular season and a spot in the NCAA Division III playoffs in his first year at the helm, said the beauty and uniqueness of the grass field is a sight to behold on Saturdays in the fall, but the overwhelming sentiment of players is that a turf surface is more desirable.

“I love Butterfield Stadium and I respect the tradition, blood, sweat, and tears that have been accumulated on that field for decades,” said Toerper. “I do believe, however, that we must consider and value the experience of our student-athletes. Replacing the grass field with an artificial surface and adding lights will allow us to practice using the same field conditions that most of our competitors have. The consistency and efficiency of our practice situation will allow even greater attention to detail in our training and preparation, not to mention the benefits it will bring to recruiting.”

Butterfield Stadium is currently used primarily for home football games, meaning that for most of the year it sits idle. With synthetic turf and lighting, the stadium will be available multiple times a day, seven days a week, in all seasons.

“Monica Bertino Wooden is truly an inspirational leader, accomplished entrepreneur, and thoughtful philanthropist,” said Susan Bassett ’79, associate vice president and director of intercollegiate athletics and campus recreation. “It means more than words can convey to have a former teammate and Delta Psi Kappa sister make such a commitment to Bomber success. The value of this generous gift impacts our football program, first and foremost, but extends beyond that, as these alterations will greatly increase opportunities for the use of Butterfield Stadium by other athletics programs and the wider campus community. This will enhance our athletics competitiveness as well as the overall student experience. The demand for time on Higgins Stadium, our lone synthetic surface, cannot adequately be met. By doubling our inventory, I expect to quadruple our capacity.”


The project is expected to bring positive environmental and economic benefits as well. Synthetic turf fields conserve water since irrigation is not needed, and the stormwater runoff is cleaner since it will not include the fertilizers and pesticides required for natural-grass fields. The planned Musco LED sports lighting system cuts energy consumption by as much as 80% compared to a traditional sports light system and virtually eliminates glare, sky glow, and light spill.

“We will both save on maintenance costs and create revenue-generating opportunities, with a stadium that can host a variety of large-scale outdoor events when not being used by the college community,” said Tim Downs, vice president for finance and administration. “This aligns with our strategic plan goals of improving space utilization, optimizing resources, and developing community partnerships.”

The installation of the turf field is being managed by Clark Companies, a specialized contractor with a sole focus on the design and construction of outdoor athletic facilities, including the fields at MetLife Stadium, Cornell University, and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

A fundraising campaign is being planned to support the move of the 400-meter track and the other track and field facilities currently located at Butterfield Stadium to Yavits Field. Future upgrades for the stadium under consideration include renovations to the seating areas and the Dick Lyon Press Box.

The project is planned to begin in the spring of 2023, with completion prior to the start of the fall semester and first home football game in the fall.