On November 10, 2022, the State Board of Regents approved a $5.8 million application for renovations at the University of Iowa (UI) Hawkeye Recreation Fields.
Caleb Recker, UI’s associate director of facility operations, said the project will convert half of the facility’s fields to artificial grass while the other half will remain natural grass.
“We were very pleased to learn that the Board of Regents had approved this project,” said Recker. “Many of our peer institutions use artificial turf for outdoor pitches, and many of our students come from a community that uses artificial turf. This expands and improves the opportunities for students on our campus.”
Specifically, Recker said the switch to artificial turf will free up more than 20 days per season for fields to open. There will also be fewer cancellations for intramural and other sports due to the improved drainage of the turf.
Renovation details and schedule
Established in 1995, Hawkeye Recreation Fields provides 34 acres for outdoor activities, including recreational service programming, drop-in recreation and revenue-generating facility reservations.
According to Recker, the site consists of seven multipurpose fields, five regular soccer fields, four sand volleyball courts, four basketball courts, a small operations/storage building, a small gazebo, and a parking lot. The sports program achieves more than 5,000 unique participations every year.
This project will focus on the western half of the 34 hectare complex. Planned renovations include:
- Removal and replacement of fencing.
- Installation of a mechanical entry/exit gate.
- Removal of existing vegetation.
- Demolition and removal of basketball courts.
- Reassessment of the fields and modernization of the drainage system.
- Build an artificial grass field with six flag football/ultimate frisbee fields or two football/rugby fields.
- Sand volleyball court improvements.
- Foot washing stations and water connection upgrades.
- Information technology and sound system upgrades.
- Disassembly and replacement of bicycle racks.
- Restoration of seed and turf, erosion control and replacement of shade trees.
Benefits and Tips
Recker said the fields’ current physical deficiencies have negatively impacted participation in outdoor recreation at UI.
“This system has not been used to capacity for over 20 years,” said Recker. “Events and activities have to be regularly postponed or cancelled. Years of rain have meant that entire seasons or some sports have had to be canceled. In addition, wet areas, recurring low points and compacted soil pose safety issues for users.”
For other college departments on campus, Recker advised first seeking input from the student body and listening to their voices.
“This can be done organically or through targeted surveys or studies,” Recker said. “Use this information to represent students and advocate for their needs. Also, collect and track review data on facility usage to support your claims.”
Construction work is scheduled to begin in spring 2023 and be completed in autumn.
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