Thanks to a generous gift of $900,000 from Deborah Olson, given in the name of her mother Elizabeth Lyle Robbie, and $1.2 million appropriated from the Minnesota state legislature, the University of Minnesota soccer program built a home of its own in the Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium.
The facility seats 1,000 spectators and contains adjacent practice fields which the team shares with the Department of Recreational Sports. The two-story structure contains athletic training, media, team and club room facilities, in addition to restrooms and food services. A ticket kiosk and plaza area are also featured outside of the stadium for the convenience of fans.
Elizabeth Lyle Robbie became the first female owner of a professional sports franchise in the United States when she purchased the Miami Toros soccer team in the mid-'70s. The Toros then moved to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., before relocating to the Twin Cities and becoming the Minnesota Strikers between the 1983 and 1984 seasons. She owned the team until the franchise disbanded in 1988. During her ownership, the Strikers played for the MISL Championship in 1986.
"My mother was always a strong supporter of women's rights and equal opportunities," Olson said. "She was a huge soccer fan in its early days in the U.S. and always loved the sport. When the University added the soccer program it seemed like a perfect fit for me to pay tribute to my mother and have the stadium named after her."
Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium is undeniably one of the finest facilities in the nation for women's college soccer, and in recent years fans have packed in to see the resurgent Minnesota soccer program which has reached a pair of NCAA Sweet Sixteens since 2008.
"It's great to see the improvement the program has experienced over the last couple of years," Olson said. "The commitment to success is apparent in all areas, from the coaching staff, to the players, to the fans and everyone else surrounding the program. It has been great to see such an increase in attendance over the last few years, and the enthusiasm surrounding the program has been wonderful. It amazes me more and more every year when I drive up to the stadium and see how great of a facility it is, and to see my mother's name on the front of the stadium is something that is really special."