Friday, March 16, 2012

Groundbreaking of new fields back on track after heavy January snow

By Elyse Glahn, Guest Reporter

The January “Snowpocalypse” delayed many events around the Pacific Lutheran campus, one of them being the groundbreaking ceremony for the new athletic fields on lower campus.  The groundbreaking ceremony is now set to take place April 13.

The ceremony will symbolize the project’s first step towards construction. The event is open to the community and the PLU Board of Regents will attend.

Senior Development Director of Gift Planning Doug Page said the date was changed strategically.

“There will be lots of people on campus for passport weekend, and various sports events,” Page said. “The construction date is tentative, because it depends on the weather.”

Page also said the mid April weather can make the ground is wet and muddy making it difficult to construct the fields.

The ceremony was set to take place Jan. 20 to make it convenient for the Board of Regents, who also met that day, to attend.

The Board of Regents gave $1,682,000 for this five-year project, so university officials wanted to make sure the regents could attend the ceremony.

The total funding for the fields was approximately $3.5 million.

The natural turf field will cost $500,000 and will replace the need for the East Campus field. Both new fields will be installed next to the existing softball field.

Absher Construction will act as the primary contractor for the project.

A sub-contractor has yet to bid the synthetic turf system.

“The synthetic turf should save energy from a maintenance standpoint because the amount of maintenance expended on the field to maintain it in an acceptable condition should be markedly less than a natural turf field,” Kannis said.

No one has bid on the contracts for the lighting system yet, but the system will also be energy efficient.

Six lights will surround the field, allowing playing time at night for athletic, intramural and informal activities.

Page said only the synthetic field will be open to the Parkland community because the Athletic Department wants to make sure the natural turf is preserved as much as possible for PLU students.

“I think the new fields will bring more participation from the PLU community,” ultimate Frisbee player junior Evan Hoover said.

Because the synthetic field will be meant for all all-weather, it will increase playing time and quality of field conditions.

Many games and matches are held at off-campus facilities with synthetic fields. The new PLU field will be wide enough for games and practices with an extra 265-by-120 square foot space on the south side for warm ups.

“After this spring, the lower campus will look significantly better,” Development Director David Gunovich said.