Thursday, November 17, 2011

New fields will allow nighttime play

Synthetic, real turf will see more home, all-weather games

By Elyse Glahn, Guest Reporter

Two new athletic fields will be installed next to the existing softball field. Construction is planned to break ground on May 31, 2012, once funds are met.

One field will be natural turf and the other will be synthetic turf. The baseball field is expected to have a synthetic turf infield as well.

The main goal is to create a better environment for current athletes and increase interest for future athletes, donors, and coaches, Development director David Gunovich said.

“PLU is one of the few members of the Northwest Conference that doesn’t have an all-weather field,” Gunovich said. “An all-weather field will prevent these teams from having a field that resembles a muddy war zone.”

The reason behind having only one synthetic turf field is funding. The synthetic field will alleviate reccurring problems with some of the teams that use the fields frequently.

“I’ve practiced on natural turf fields before, and from past experiences, it is difficult to play on,” lacrosse player junior Michael Rossi said. “The grass gets eaten up and you eventually lose your footing.”

The natural field will replace the need for East Campus field. The Women’s and Men’s Lacrosse team, usually use East Campus for practice.

The PLU Athletic and Development Department ’s decision to provide athletes with one synthetic field raises hope for future projects.

“If we can get a synthetic field built, that will provide a catalyst for future projects in the Athletic Department,” Construction Project Manager John Kaniss said.

Kaniss said he hopes people will see the positive effects that come from having an all-weather field and donate.

Many games are currently held on other off-campus facilities with synthetic fields. PLU teams will be able to host home games on campus once their own field is installed.

The field will be wide enough for practice and games for all sports. There will even be an extra 265 by 120 square ft. warm up area towards the south side of the field.

Six lights will surround the field. These lights will allow for longer hours of playing time for not only athletic teams, but for intramural sports, informal recreation, and other activities.

Because the future field will be near PLU’s Keck Observatory, it may pose a conflict between scheduling night sports and astronomic-related events.

Kaniss said that the Facilities Department will make sure there won’t be a situation that obstructs what they’re doing in the observatory.

According to Gunovich, the goal is to raise $3 million for the synthetic field. They currently have raised around $2.9 million.

The plans to relocate the batting cages and hammer throw pit will start in January 2012. This will make room for the field.

The baseball program’s funding is currently at $250,000 out of the $350,000 needed for the infield turf.

They still need extra funds for other future improvements on the baseball facilities. These extra donations will be naming opportunities, which include the field, scoreboard, bleachers, press box, dugouts and covered batting cages.

The plan will “add to campus community and campus experience,” Gunovich said.