DALLAS TWP. -- About 250 administrators, supporters and athletes of Misericordia University gathered on Saturday morning for the dedication of the new John and Mary Metz Field House.
Touted as a "state-of-the-art" facility, the $4 million 21,750-square-foot center includes athletic training rooms, expanded locker facilities for men's and women's field sports, team meeting rooms, a weight room, shower rooms and public restrooms.
Located between the Mangelsdorf Field and a new baseball diamond, the Metz Field House is the latest part of a $7 million university expansion.
University President Michael MacDowell said the university dedicated the facility to John and Mary Metz because of how they have "driven" the university's growth over the last few years. Metz serves as chairman of the university's board of trustees as well as the chairman of the Metz Culinary Management and Northeast Restaurant Group, Inc., both based in Dallas.
"John Metz was the driver behind our attaining university status and growing in enrollment from 1,050 to over 1,900 students," MacDowell said.
MacDowell said a greater emphasis on field sports, particularly men's football, will bring in high quality students.
"There are 130 student-athletes here that have grade-point averages higher than 3.4," MacDowell said. "They are coming here because they love to play the games as well as earn great degrees."
Jeff Metz, president of Metz Culinary, said the dedication was a "real special day for the entire Metz family." He added supporting the university gives them a way to show their gratitude.
He said Misericordia, as a local university, offers value for employers in Northeast Pennsylvania by providing good education and training for the future workforce.
"It's right here in our backyard," Metz said. "Supporting the university is a great way to help the local community."
The dedication took place just prior to Misericordia's inaugural homecoming football game. Franco Harris, a Hall-of-Famer for the Pittsburgh Steelers who also played for Penn State University, talked to the group about the benefits of a strong football program at the school.
Harris said a football program offers many benefits to all students as well as the university.
Paul Krzywicki, assistant director for university marketing and communications, said John and Mary Metz have been long-time supporters of the school. Misericordia dedicated the field house "to acknowledge the significant leadership and philanthropy of the couple and their family," he said.