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>  News Releases >   2008 >   June

Major gift to Dartmouth establishes Red Rolfe Field at Biondi Park

Dartmouth College Office of Public Affairs • Press Release
Posted 06/13/08 • Media Contact: Genevieve Haas • (603) 646-3661

In a season when Dartmouth baseball was ranked first in the region, won its fourth Red Rolfe Division title in eight years, had Bob Whalen named New England Coach of the Year and two of his players make first-team All-New England, comes more good news. A $5.2 million gift from Mike, Class of 1979, and Cindy Ginn Biondi, Class of 1980, will support major renovations to Red Rolfe Field and a new ballpark. Robert "Red" Rolfe, Dartmouth Class of 1931, played ten seasons with the New York Yankees and was his alma mater's athletic director from 1954 to 1967.

Work is underway at Red Rolfe Field
Work is underway at Red Rolfe Field (photo courtesy Dartmouth Athletics)

The field will be ready for practice this fall. Renovations to the entire park will be finished in time for opening day in spring 2009.

The Michael J. 1979 and Cynthia Ginn 1980 Biondi Ballpark-also known as Red Rolfe Field at Biondi Park-will fulfill a vision Mike had several years ago. He covered first base (and captained the infield) for varsity baseball at Dartmouth in the late 1970s. A self-described baseball fanatic who loved nothing more than to play the game with his four sons, Mike died tragically of sudden cardiac arrest last November 12. The conceptual plans for the new ballpark were finalized just before he passed away.

"This gift has special meaning for all of us who have had the privilege to work closely with Cindy and Mike Biondi," said Dartmouth President James Wright. "Always concerned with the welfare of current students, always ready to lend their time and expertise, they have led by example. There was no bigger Dartmouth baseball fan-and, of course, Mets fan-than Mike. We're grateful that this gift will have a lasting impact on our student-athletes, the game of baseball at Dartmouth, and the wider community."

Mike Biondi was the Co-Chairman of Investment Banking and a managing director at Lazard, and considered one of the nation's top mergers and acquisition bankers. He was a founding partner at Wasserstein Perella & Co. and a former associate at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. After Dartmouth, he earned an MBA and JD in the joint-degree program at the University of Pennsylvania. Mike was a former member of the President's Leadership Council, vice-chair of the Campaign for the Dartmouth Experience, and co-chair of the Dartmouth College Fund Committee. He was also a class agent, leadership agent, Reunion Committee chair, and member of the Dartmouth College Fund's Major Gifts Committee. Remembrances sent to the New York Times' "DealBook" blog, which published a tribute to Mike last fall, were plentiful in their praise. "One of the finest people on Wall Street," wrote one reader. "He set a high standard for banking and an even higher one as a mentor, colleague, and gentleman." Congressman Rahm Emanuel, in a salute to Mike in the November 14 Congressional Record, said, "I will never forget the lessons he taught me both in business and in life."

Cindy Biondi earned an MBA from Wharton after graduating from Dartmouth, and worked as a management consultant in New York. She is a member of the President's Leadership Council at Dartmouth and a vice chair of the Campaign for the Dartmouth Experience. She was formerly a co-chair of the Dartmouth College Fund Committee, co-chair of the Class of 1980 20th Reunion Giving Committee, and an alumni fund volunteer. She is a director for the Breast Cancer Alliance and the Boys and Girls Club of Greenwich, a former trustee of the Brunswick School and past president of its Parents' Association. She has also been a volunteer for the First Presbyterian Church, the Junior League of Greenwich, and the Greenwich Historical Society.

The Biondis' philanthropy to Dartmouth includes the Cynthia and Michael Biondi 1979 Family Fund for Scholarship and generous gifts to the Dartmouth College Fund, Athletic Sponsor Program, and Friends of Baseball.

Renovations will include construction of a new synthetic FieldTurf surface, permanent seating for 650 spectators with the ability to add more than 1,000 temporary seats along the first- and third-baselines, dugouts, batting cages, bullpens, a new scoreboard, press box, and landscaping.

"This ballpark will satisfy our programmatic needs, and allow a sport with a storied history at Dartmouth to be as successful as it can be," said Josie Harper, director of athletics and recreation. "At the northernmost Ivy League school, the weather isn't always so kind to baseball. The artificial playing surface will greatly enhance our ability to practice and compete on the field."

"This is hugely important to our players, and will greatly improve their day-to-day lives on the field," said Coach Bob Whalen. "We owe so much to Cindy and Mike Biondi. Working closely with Mike over the last few years, I know now why he was so highly regarded as a leader on his team, and one of the most respected men on Wall Street."

Dartmouth is committed to a healthy balance between athletics and academics, with nearly 80 percent of students participating in sports and recreation outside of rigorous scholastic programs. It fields teams for 34 varsity, 30 club, and 53 intramural sports and last year won an NCAA championship (skiing), three Ivy League titles, and thirteen Top 20 national rankings. Eleven scholar-athletes were named first team All-America, and 29 were first team All-Ivy. Over the last decade, the College has invested more than $80 million in athletics facilities construction and renovation. Projects include Floren Varsity House, Burnham Soccer Field and Sports Pavilion, Scully-Fahey Field, Boss Tennis Center and Gordon Pavilion, Blackman Football Practice Fields, McLane Family Lodge, Corey Ford Rugby Clubhouse and Fields, the Fitness Center, and more. Additional facility improvements are in the planning and design stages.

The gift is part of the College's Campaign for the Dartmouth Experience, the most ambitious fund-raising initiative in Dartmouth's history. With a $1.3 billion goal, the campaign is seeking investment in four initiatives: to advance leading-edge teaching and scholarship; to enhance residential and campus life; to honor its commitment to making education accessible in the undergraduate college; and to raise unrestricted dollars. The campaign is institution-wide, embracing its undergraduate and graduate programs in the arts and sciences and its three professional schools, Tuck School of Business, Thayer School of Engineering, and Dartmouth Medical School.

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