Enhancing the UCF Football experience is the newly built Nicholson Fieldhouse, the first indoor practice facility of any of Florida's Division I football programs.
Completed in June of 2005 and located behind the state-of-the-art Wayne Densch Sports Center the field house features a 120-yard regulation FieldTurf playing surface and is climate controlled by a series of industrial-size air conditioning fans located at both the north and south endzones. Also used by other varsity sport programs, the facility is ideal during times of inclement weather and heat.
The facility would not have been if not from the assistance of Tony and Sonja Nicholson, longtime supporters of academics and athletics at UCF, who donated in excess of $2 million for the construction of the field house, which was named in their honor.
Centex Rooney Construction Co. Inc. began building the $4.3 million field house in August of 2004, and the facility was up and ready for use by the spring.
"The entire UCF community, especially our student-athletes and communication students, continues to benefit from the generous support of Tony and Sonja Nicholson," UCF President John Hitt said. "The field house will allow our athletes to practice in all types of weather and should give our teams a competitive advantage."
Tony Nicholson owns several companies in Central Florida and has developed about 3,000 homes and 10,000 lots in the region since 1995. He is an owner of the Arena Football League's Orlando Predators. An entrepreneur since 1962, he moved in 1967 to Central Florida, where he has founded a magazine, a radio station and a company that produced concerts and videos.
Tony Nicholson is a member of the boards of directors of the UCF Athletics Association Inc. and the UCF Foundation Inc. Sonja Nicholson is a past member of the Golden Knights Club Board of Directors.
"Every business enterprise has a moral obligation to contribute a part of its gains to the betterment of the community it serves," Tony Nicholson said. "The University of Central Florida is one of the Central Florida community's most significant institutions, and the service UCF renders to this community affects every single family that lives here. We are delighted to be able to contribute to UCF in a meaningful way. It is a way to thank our own customers, and we look forward to more contributions in the future."
The Nicholsons made a $2 million commitment in 1996 to help fund the Nicholson School of Communication, which is named in their honor. The couple is longtime annual contributors to UCF athletics and consistently ranks as Diamond Knights, the highest level for annual giving.
A donation from the couple also helped to pay the university's entry fee into the Mid-American Conference for football in 2002. The Nicholson's also made a $100,000 commitment in 1999 toward the Wayne Densch Sports Center. In addition, a football practice field is named in their honor.