A philanthropic couple has committed a multi-million dollar investment in the renovation of the Air Force Academy’s football stadium, according to a Tuesday news release.
Jack and Vianne Kucera will donate $10 million toward a project aimed at modernizing the east side of Falcon Stadium, which is nearly 60 years old. The renovation is considered a crucial part of an upgrade to many of the service academy’s systems, dubbed the Defining Our Future campaign.
A 1978 academy graduate and CEO of Varitec Solutions, Jack said he sees the financial gift as an investment not only in the football program, but in the school and its students as a whole.
“I don’t think there’s a more powerful way to impact America’s future than investing in cadets at the Air Force Academy — leaders of character for our nation,” said Jack Kucera, a former football team captain.
Opened in 1962, Falcon Stadium has long been a cornerstone of academy tradition. In addition to hosting Air Force football games, the arena serves as a venue for academy graduations and a host of other events, including a National Hockey League game in February of last year.
“It’s the most public face of the Academy,” Jack Kucera said. “It’s one of the only times the general public sees us and our cadets on national TV. It’s our graduation facility, where we toss our hats and fly the Thunderbirds overhead. Where, on occasion, the president of the United States addresses our graduates.”
This isn’t the first time the academy has benefitted from the Kuceras’ generosity. The couple donated $5 million to the USAFA Endowment in 2016.
The Kuceras’ contributions to the school go beyond financial donations, the release stated. Jack is currently chairman of the board of the Air Force Academy Foundation, and has also served on the board of the Air Force Academy Association of Graduates.
“I think the fact that I wasn’t commissioned probably makes me feel that I have an even greater debt of gratitude to pay to the Air Force Academy,” said Jack Kucera, who suffered an injury his senior year and was unable to commission into the Air Force. “I look at what I got at the Academy, and frankly, I’d feel pretty guilty if I weren't giving back in as meaningful a way as I can.”
Nathan Pine, the academy’s athletic director, said the Kuceras’ gift will positively impact Air Force football and the entire athletic department for years to come.
“The renovation of Falcon Stadium is critical to our future success at the Air Force Academy, and Jack and Vianne Kucera have helped make this vision a reality with their incredible commitment,” Pine said. “We are so lucky to have their leadership and vision behind this important project."
The academy hopes to break ground on the modernization project after the 2022 football season, according to the release.