Project improves playing field for campus intramurals
Rigoberto Gomez doesn’t mind that the UIC Men’s Soccer Club has been displaced for its fall and spring seasons. After all, once the team’s new on-campus practice field is available next summer, it will be a much better playing surface, Garcia said.
Garcia’s team is one of many intramurals and sports clubs that practice and compete at UIC’s Outdoor Field Complex, which closed Sept. 8 when work began to replace the grassy field with artificial turf.
“It’s like a godsend,” said Gomez, president of the soccer club and a senior in communication. “We really needed something like that.”
More than 214,000 square feet of artificial turf will be installed as part of the $3.9 million project, paid for by Campus Recreation funds and an internal campus loan. The facility is expected to be ready in May or June, said Brian Cousins, director of Campus Recreation.
The field complex, which opened in 1996, has been re-sodded four times in the last eight years, Cousins said.
“That’s expensive and we just can’t keep up with the amount of activity that’s out there,” he said. “Over the years, our fields have really gone downhill in terms of quality.
“Artificial turf provides a very good quality playing surface year round. When it’s warm enough to be outside, we will be able to be out there.”
The project will update the two multipurpose fields, which can accommodate a variety of sports and recreation teams. The renovation will provide more fencing, outdoor wi-fi and four territory areas to separate play from pedestrian corridors.
Artificial turf has green benefits too, Cousins said. It is expected to save 2 million gallons of water a year in irrigation costs and eliminates the need for fertilizer, pesticide and fuel-powered mowing equipment.
“The maintenance of artificial turf is very minimal,” he said.
During construction, intramural and club sports are practicing indoors at the Student Recreation Facility or playing outdoors through partnerships with the Chicago Park District and local high schools, Cousins said.
The new field complex will mean more opportunities for UIC teams to host matches and create new sports clubs. It will have permanent game lines that could be used for softball, soccer, flag football, lacrosse and more.
The facility will have high school regulation-size soccer goals, required to host matches. In the past three years, the men’s soccer club has hosted just one home game — and that was held near campus at St. Ignatius College Prep, Gomez said.
“Some of us are seniors so we won’t be able to use the new field but we’re pumped for the people coming up to host more home games than we’ve ever been able to have,” he said.
Sandra Schwendeman, president of the UIC Women’s Rugby Club, said the field will benefit her sport, too. Her club is practicing at a Chicago Park District field during construction.
“The old field had puddles and other problems so the turf will offer a consistent good field,” said Schwendeman, a senior in anthropology.