An aerial view of the Soloviev campus with green grass and trees.

URI Soloviev Basketball Practice Facility named for Soloviev family. Plan to improve athletic facilities.

Photo: URI Photos

Governor Dan McKee will give remarks at the ribbon cutting for the new URI Soloviev Basketball Practice Facility located at the Tootell Physical Education Center, on Keaney Road in Kingston. The facility, with a naming honor for the Stefan Soloviev and his family following their $3 million gift, as announced in 2021. Made during President Dooley’s tenure, URI’s statement said, “the gift is the largest in an $8 million project to dramatically improve basketball training facilities for the men’s and women’s teams.”

It was not announced if the Soloviev family will attend the event TODAY, Monday, Nov. 6th, at 12:15 at Tootell Center.

When the 2021 gift was announced, URI was to seek approval of their Board of Trustees to name the West Gymnasium of the Tootell Athletic Complex the Soloviev Family Basketball Practice Facility.

“The Soloviev family’s gift will propel our plans to enhance facilities for our student-athletes and support the continued development of our athletic programs,” said David M. Dooley, URI president in 2021.

Stefan Soloviev, the CEO of Crossroads Agriculture and chairman of the Solow Building Company, attended URI in the 1990s. He, and the Soloviev family’s philanthropy came up again in their recent interest in saving McCoy Stadium as a baseball feature for Rhode Island.

Stefan Soloviev’s McCoy Stadium interest and support unclear

The McCoy and Soloviev interest was discussed broadly by the family on the Tara Granahan Radio program on WPRO Radio. Pawtucket Mayor Grebien got involved in meeting with the family and giving them a tour of the facility. Grebien spoke positively about the interest of the family.

Well beyond a last minute save, plans were well underway to use the land to develop a combined new high school for the city. Everyone agreed that the high school plan should continue as a priority. What the future of McCoy as an ongoing baseball field would be was questionable given baseball guidelines, specifically regarding geographic distance, and many other issues.

Recently, Granahan reported Soloviev’s statement regarding the McCoy interest: “… I did see that some guy was running his mouth about us not doing anything when that’s not the case at all.”- “This is why I didn’t want to get involved with your state’s ignorant politics and agendas to begin with. I’m proud to do business in Florida, Kansas, New York and Colorado”.

Here is Granahan’s latest update with the city of Pawtucket:

We understand that the care and control of the McCoy property has been turned over to the Pawtucket School Committee, per regulations. Any discussions on preserving McCoy or with the outside funding would now be “squarely in the hands of the the school committee”, according to Pawtucket Councilman Terrence Mercer.

Back at the time of the $3Million gift to URI’s building, Thorr Bjorn, director of athletics said, “I want to thank Stefan for his incredibly generous gift,” said Thorr Bjorn, director of Athletics. “This significant investment is the result of a plan that aligns with having two premiere basketball programs, not just in the Atlantic 10, but in the country…

Soloviev said, “Supporting Thorr’s vision of building a nationally competitive basketball program is something I’m extremely passionate about and committed to…Achieving this will benefit the student-athletes, athletic program, and the University as a whole. The University of Rhode Island changed my life and made me the person I am today. I am very grateful that I am able to help move the University forward.”

In addition to Soloviev’s sports interest in “raising the University’s profile through top-tier athletics”, URI also announced that Soloviev will also be involved in helping to “promote artists from the community by providing a home at the facility for locally sourced sports-related artwork.”

University of Rhode Island launches major initiative to enhance athletics facilities and programs

Today’s ribbon cutting on the completed URI Soloviev Basketball Practice Facility comes as the university announces a multi-year $20 million fundraising initiative to “enhance athletic facilities and advance championship-caliber programs” where private gifts will combine with recent state support. $65.8 million in Rhode Island Capital Plan funding is included in the 2024 state budget.

“We are stepping up to support our student-athletes in a significant way by investing in championship-caliber people and facilities,” said URI President Marc Parlange. “We are grateful to Gov. McKee, House Speaker Shekarchi, Senate President Ruggerio, and all our elected leaders for their support. Our student-athletes work tirelessly. They represent our University and our state on a national stage. And they are a huge source of pride— not just for URI, but for all of Rhode Island.”

The effort will initially target longstanding issues with Meade Stadium, Tootell Aquatic Center, the outdoor track and field facilities, the baseball and softball fields, and the soccer complex.

Thorr Bjorn said, “We need facilities that stand out among our peers to give every student-athlete the best chance to succeed and to allow our coaches to recruit top talent to URI. I know the passion is there from our alumni, fans, and friends—we now have a unique chance to work together to make big things happen.”

The broad fundraising initiative will help spur URI’s competitive success in intercollegiate athletics, expand recreational opportunities for all URI students, through increased space and time for club and intramural teams and students, and also benefit community members and organizations with improved recreational facilities. The Special Olympics state games hosted by URI will be better served through improved facilities, and enhancements also will enable the University to host high school competitions and other statewide events.