The groundbreaking ceremony for the Richard and Helen DeVos Fieldhouse on the campus of Hope College will be held Friday, April 23.

It will be the first of two groundbreaking ceremonies within a week for major campus building projects at the college of 3,000 students. Ground will be broken for the Martha Miller Center for Global Communications on Thursday, April 29.

"We as a campus community are excited to be celebrating the start of construction on the DeVos Fieldhouse and the Martha Miller Center, and are equally eager for their completion," said Hope College President James E. Bultman. "Both buildings are highly anticipated for the important support they will provide to programs that have outgrown their current homes."

The fieldhouse is being constructed on Fairbanks Avenue between Eighth and Ninth streets. The groundbreaking will take place on the site off 11th Street between Lincoln Avenue and Fairbanks beginning at 1:30 p.m.

Participants will include President Bultman; the Rev. Paul H. Boersma, senior chaplain at Hope; Albert McGeehan, mayor of Holland; James L. Jurries of Holland, a 1963 Hope graduate who has been volunteer coordinator of project funding; Dr. R. Richard Ray Jr., chairperson of the college's department of kinesiology; Hope sophomores Bria Ebels and Jeff Carlson, both of Holland; Robert Vander Weide of Grand Rapids, son-in-law of Richard and Helen DeVos; Steve Hotujac, principal of the architectural firm of Ellerbe Becket; and the college's Wind Symphony and Anchor Band.

The DeVos Fieldhouse will be built on the Eastern Gateway to the community, on Fairbanks Avenue near Eighth and Ninth streets, in a park-like setting that includes the site of the former Western Foundry and city Street Department.

The 102,000 square foot building will house the department of kinesiology and the college's athletic training program, and will also serve as home court for the college's volleyball and men's and women's basketball teams. Designed to seat approximately 3,400 fans, it will also serve as a venue for other college and community events.

Hope has played its basketball games at the city-owned Holland Civic Center since the mid-1950s. "We have not had our own college-owned facility for spectator basketball for more than 70 years," said Hope spokesman Tom Renner."

The kinesiology and athletic training programs are currently housed in the college's Dow Center. The men's basketball team has played its home games at the Holland Civic Center, and the women's basketball and volleyball teams have played their home games at the Dow Center. The relocations will not only make more room for other programs within the Dow Center but also make the gymnasium more available for intramurals and other student use.

Scheduled for completion in time for the 2005-06 school year, the fieldhouse is being named for Richard and Helen DeVos, honoring the couple's impact on the quality of life in western Michigan, the Holland community and at Hope. The Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation contributed a $7.5 million anchor gift to the project.

The construction manager for the fieldhouse project is the Dan Vos Construction Co. of Ada. The architectural firm is Ellerbe Becket of Kansas City, Mo. Progressive AE of Grand Rapids, Mich., also is providing architectural and engineering services.

Steve Hotujac, principal with architectural firm Ellerbe Becket, remembers touring President Bultman through another of the firm's projects, Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The home of the NBA Indiana Pacers is considered the the gem among the new arenas that have opened in recent years. The facility is designed to evoke memories of the state's great high school and collegiate fieldhouses while delivering all the amenities of a modern NBA arena.

"That's what's so delightful about working on DeVos Fieldhouse," said Hotujac. "We can take all this great knowledge we've accumulated from designing nearly 20 NBA/NHL arenas and apply it in an intimate setting. This will be one of the best buildings of its type in the world."

Hope College is in the midst of the most ambitious campus development program in its 142-year history. Through the development of what is being called the new Eastern Gateway entrance, the size of the campus has increased by nearly 40 percent (55 to 77 acres).

The projects are part of the college's current "Legacies: A Vision of Hope" fundraising campaign. Other major initiatives have included raising endowment and construction of the college's new science center and renovation of the existing Peale Science Center. The new science center opened in August of 2003, and the Peale renovation is scheduled to be completed for the start of the 2004-05 school year.