Playing field upgrade in planning stages

A turf surface is planned to be installed on the athletic fields by the start of  next semester, school administrators have announced. It will be mainly used for club sports and intramurals.

by Jess Hoogendoorn

The varsity soccer field may get a million-dollar face-lift.

Plans are being put in motion to replace the grass soccer field with turf. Installing the turf is estimated to cost anywhere between $800,000 and $900,000. However, the groundbreaking is not going to happen anytime in the near future. According to Mike Reca, associate vice president for Auxiliary Services and Facilities, the plan has not gone beyond identifying the location of the new field.

“Where we are in the process is, we’ve identified the location, but beyond that we haven’t taken any steps further because there’s dollars involved with that,” Reca said.

Associate Athletic Director Karin Torchia believes the new field will be very beneficial for the University’s teams, one in
particular.

“Field hockey, right now, has a very difficult time getting teams to come here to play them,” Torchia said. “Primarily because I would say 95 percent of the field hockey teams in the country play on turf.”

The field hockey team only had three home games last season and had to play nine or 10 games on the road because no teams would play on the University’s grass field, according to Torchia. The lack of a turf field also causes Rider to lose revenue.

“We cannot host the men’s [or] women’s soccer championships, the conference championships, here because we do not have a backup turf field,” Torchia said.

Once the field is built, varsity, club and intramural teams will be able to use it for games and practices. However, the process of building and approving the field is a long one. According to Reca, the entire process of getting approval from the Lawrence Township Planning Board for the lights and location, getting construction permits and completing the actual construction will take up to eight months.

Once building begins, the project will be divided into three layers, Reca said. The first is constructing the actual surface of the field. Then there is installing the lights, and third is the stadium seating.

The turf installation will involve digging up the soccer field and making it into a large two-foot-deep hole. Then a foot and a half of crushed stone will be placed in the hole along with drainage pipes and a subsurface layer of sand. The turf surface, which is made up of artificial grass, recycled tires and sand, will be placed on top.

In order for the field to become a reality, there must be funding. Auxiliary Services is putting up $280,000 for the project and athletics is contributing, Reca said. There will also be a fundraising campaign.

Once installed, with the proper upkeep, the field is expected to last 10 to 15 years before having to be restored. Reca said that just the surface will have to be restored and that “it’s not $1.5 million every time you do it.” He explained that once the field is built, the University will be in control of its maintenance. In the future, additional funding from other organizations will not be
necessary.

“Once it’s incorporated into the University fabric, it should be maintained by the University,” Reca said.

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