Giving new life to an old field

As Sarah frantically attempts to dribble the ball down the field, using her stick to guide its path, she strategically dodges her opponents. She approaches the circle and prepares for a shot at the goal. After a hard drive, the ball, perfectly positioned to enter the corner of the goal, suddenly skips and soars out of bounds.

The misdirection of the ball was not because of a poor or misplaced stroke, it was because of poor field conditions.

This is much like the situation some athletes at VCU have experienced in past sports seasons, said Sue Boling, director of VCU’s recreational sports.

Because of safety issues such as drainage problems and an uneven surface, Cary Street Field is currently being remodeled.

“The field met its design life and needed to be replaced,” said Brian Ohlinger, associate vice president for facilities management.

The overall appearance of the field will not change during the remodeling process, Ohlinger said. The field’s seating, which can hold 1,200 fans, will also remain the same.

The first phase of the construction project began in late April, and focused on subsurface work, which consisted of installing new drainage systems and repairing soft spots.

Construction on the field will focus on fixing the subsurface damage as well as replacing the NeXturf, the artificial turf that makes up the field.

Two layers that make up the turf must be put down – first the E-layer, and then the synthetic turf.

The construction team also has to “use lasers to make sure the field has the right slope in order to drain right,” said Paul Timmreck, senior vice president for finance and administration.

Used by a variety of athletic teams, including field hockey, club soccer and intramural sports, the reconstruction of Cary Street Field has affected some practice schedules, Boling said.

The field was originally scheduled to open Aug. 1 but construction was delayed during May and June.

“The rains had a great impact,” Ohlinger said. “We made up some rain delays but we can’t make up all of them. We lost 28 work days.”

Now, university officials said, field construction should be completed around Aug. 15. Teams, such as the field hockey team whose practice began Aug. 8, will practice at another facility until the field is complete.

Rippled areas near the goal caused adjustments to be made to the field before repairs began at Cary Street Field. Some partial repairs were done to improve the field, Boling said.

“We shifted the goals and the lines down,” she said. “We moved it closer to the gym. It’s still a regulation size field, but it’s not centered in the field anymore.”

The renovation of Cary Street Field will cost about $1.8 million, Timmreck said, but funding for the renovation project has been set aside since 1987.

“Projects like dorms, dining halls, etcetera are funded by fees that students pay,” Timmreck said. “It operates like a business and we set portions aside for major improvements.”

The turf on the field is replaced every eight or nine years Boling said, and the E-layer under the turf is replaced about every 16 years. Turf replacement is an ongoing process, and the turf on Cary Street Field will need resurfacing in another eight years.

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