Thursday, May 15, 2008
The $50 million facility honors retired Lt. Cmdr. Wesley A. Brown. Although Brown, who graduated in 1949, was actually the sixth African American to enter the U.S. Naval Academy, he was the first to graduate.
Brown, 81, retired in 1969 after spending 20 years as part of the Navy’s Civil Engineer Corps. After retirement, he consulted on construction projects and he also became part of the Howard University faculty as a physical facilities analyst.
The Wesley Brown Field House is a 140,000-square foot facility focused on housing physical education, varsity sports, intramural athletics, club sports and personal fitness programs and equipment. The building boasts a full-length Astroturf football field that can retract, revealing a 200-meter tack with hydraulically-raised corners and three permanent basketball courts. There will also be a centralized medical facility featuring brand-new equipment.
‘‘This is definitely 21st century, state-of-the-art,” said Brown.
The building will be home to the men and women’s cross country and track teams, sprint football team, and the women’s lacrosse team, as well as 16 club sports.
Although Brown competed in track and field at the Academy, he says the building doesn’t celebrate his athletic achievements.
‘‘I hope they can use this building symbolically for the Navy and Naval Academy, to show that they take diversity seriously,” Brown said.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen, Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Jeffrey L. Fowler, and Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley participated in the ribbon-cutting ceremony with Brown in front of an audience of nearly a thousand guests.
The project began in March 2006, after the Hensel Phelps Construction Company of Chantilly, Va., received the contract.