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Air Force dedicates huge Holaday Athletic Center

By: FRANK SCHWAB
July 22, 2011
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photo - A crowd gathers for the dedication of Air Force Academy's new Holaday Athletic Center Friday, July 22, 2011. The center is the largest privately funded capital project in Academy history and will accommodate lacrosse, football and soccer. Photo by CHRISTIAN MURDOCK, THE GAZETTE
A crowd gathers for the dedication of Air Force Academy's new Holaday Athletic Center Friday, July 22, 2011. The center is the largest privately funded capital project in Academy history and will accommodate lacrosse, football and soccer. Photo by CHRISTIAN MURDOCK, THE GAZETTE 

After the Holaday Athletic Center dedication ceremony, a 69-year-old man in a suit and dress shoes attempted field goals at midfield.

If Bart Holaday, who donated $5 million to the construction of the practice facility, wanted to be the first to kick the football around in the new building, nobody was going to stop him.

Holaday, a 1965 graduate and former Air Force football kicker, and his late wife Lynn were the main benefactors and namesakes of the impressive practice facility, which was unveiled in a dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday.

“It’s one of these things in life that seldom happen where everyone involved is happy,” said Holaday, who was kicking the field goals with his old college holder, Howard Burkart, setting it up.

The most striking thing about the building, which at $15.5 million was the largest privately financed capital project in academy history, is its size. It is 6½ stories high and 92,000 square feet, enough to hold an artificial turf surface for soccer, football or lacrosse.

“My first impression is, it’s huge,” Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson said. “I’ve seen every (practice facility) in the league … you might be able to get some of those facilities inside this one.”

During the ceremony, which was attended by Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach and Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force Gen. Norton Schwartz, among others, the messages were of hope that the gifts for the HAC would spur further donations for projects such as a Falcon Stadium renovation, and of pride in the new building.

Holaday thanked his wife during his speech, and thanked Lynn’s sister, brother, childen and grandchildren for being at the ceremony. Lynn Holaday died Oct. 1, the day of the groundbreaking for the HAC, after an 18-month bout with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Part of the reason the Holadays gave the money for the facility was for a lasting tribute to Lynn. Busts of Lynn and Bart Holaday stand inside the building.

“She would have been so happy with the way it turned out,” Holaday said. “She lived life to the fullest every day, and I’m at the stage where I’ll always miss her desperately, but I’m grateful for the wonderful times we had together.”

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