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Willie Lanier launches initiative to build new football fields at HBCUs

Courtesy / October 8, 2020

Hovey Field, originally Hovey Park, was named after George Rice Hovey, a former Virginia Union University professor and president who helped raise funds to spearhead its creation, according to the school.
Hovey died in 1943.

Willie Lanier, NFL Hall of Famer, and former Kansas City Chiefs great has announced an initiative to install state-of-the-art playing surfaces at nearly three-dozen HBCU football stadiums. Partnering with FieldTurf, one of the world’s largest manufacturers and installers of artificial playing surfaces for athletic teams, the initiative is called the Honey Bear Project after Lanier’s pro-football nickname. The duo seeks to raise $50 million over the next two years.

“I’m excited about this project and I am confident we will get the support,” says Lanier. “Many of the football fields at HBCU’s are in bad shape. Some, like the one at Virginia Union University in my hometown of Richmond, are more than 100-years old and have never been replaced.”

FieldTurf recently installed a new football surface at VUU’s Hovey Stadium, the second oldest football stadium in the United States behind Harvard Stadium which was completely resurfaced with hybrid turf technology five years ago.

Willie Lanier

According to Lanier, poor field surfaces put Black college teams at a competitive disadvantage.

“Poor surfaces make it tougher to recruit top high school players, who compare the fields to other schools that may have ‘high tech’ artificial surfaces,” Lanier continues. “Bad football fields can hinder the quality of play because patchy uneven surfaces make good footing more difficult and can negatively impact player performance.”

Lanier is no stranger to giving back. With more than five decades of charitable service, Lanier hopes building new fields at HBCU’s will be his lasting legacy to the game of football and to America’s Black colleges.

“With these fields, I hope to leave a bigger footprint on the game of football — ‘leveling the playing field’ for the nation’s Black colleges by replacing their old fields with new ones,” Lanier emphasizes.

For more information about The Honey Bear Project, visit


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