Syracuse University Magazine

The Ensley Athletic Center Opens


The Syracuse University Department of Athletics unveiled its new indoor practice facility, the Ensley Athletic Center, this past winter. The 87,000-square-foot building, situated just east of Manley Field House, features a football field and a 7,600-square-foot entry pavilion with room for meeting space. And it adds a whole new dimension to SU Athletics’ resources, expanding valuable indoor space that allows teams and individual student-athletes to practice at times when the Syracuse weather is its uncooperative self. Among other things, it gave the Orange football squad an early start on spring practice—an opportunity it now shares with many of the other Atlantic Coast Conference members.

The facility was named in honor of Cliff Ensley ’69, ’70, G’71, the Orange’s last three-sport letterwinner, who provided a multimillion-dollar gift for the center. The facility’s construction was also supported by previous major gifts from SU Board of Trustees Chairman Richard L. Thompson G’67 and his wife, Jean ’66, and others. Ensley, the founder and CEO of Leisure Merchandising Corporation in New Jersey, was a walk-on student-athlete who earned a football scholarship, setting interception and special teams records as a defensive back. He also wrestled; was Most Valuable Player of the 1969 lacrosse squad, playing defense and serving as co-captain; and was honored as the 1969 Syracuse Athlete of the Year.

“It’s a fantastic facility,” Ensley said in an interview with SU Athletics’ Cuse TV. “It’s going to level the playing field and make all of our teams better. Many of our teams never get to play full field in practice and now they’re going to be able to, so you better watch out ACC.”


Cliff Ensley and his wife, Sue, stand inside the Ensley Athletic Center.

Photos courtesy of SU Athletics; field photo by Michael Okoniewski; Ensley photo by Charles Wainwright