On November 10, 2022, the state Board of Regents approved a $5.8 million request for renovations to the University of Iowa’s (UI) Hawkeye Recreation Fields.
Caleb Recker, the associate director of Facility Operations at UI, said the project will convert half of the fields at the facility to synthetic turf while the other half will remain natural grass.
“We were very excited upon learning the Board of Regents approved this project,” said Recker. “Many of our peer institutions are using synthetic turf for outdoor fields, and many of our students come from a community that utilizes synthetic turf fields. This will expand and enhance the opportunities available for students on our campus.”
Specifically, Recker said the conversion to synthetic turf will provide over 20 more days per season for the fields to be open. Due to the turf improving drainage, there will also be less cancellations for intramurals and other sports.
Renovation Details and Timeline
The Hawkeye Recreation Fields were constructed in 1995 and provide 34 acres for outdoor activities, including Recreational Services programming, drop-in recreation and revenue-generating facility reservations.
Recker said the site consists of seven multi-purpose fields, five regulation soccer fields, four sand volleyball courts, four basketball courts, a small operations/storage building, a small pavilion and a parking lot. Sport programming here reaches over 5,000 unique participations on an annual basis.
This project will focus on the west half of the 34-acre complex. Planned renovations include:
- Removal and replacement of perimeter fencing.
- Installation of a mechanical entry/exit gate.
- Clearing of existing overgrown vegetation.
- Demolition and removal of basketball courts.
- Regrading of the fields and storm drainage system upgrades.
- Construction of a synthetic turf area accommodating six flag football/ultimate frisbee fields or two soccer/rugby fields.
- Sand volleyball court improvements.
- Foot wash stations and water connection upgrades.
- Information technology and sound system upgrades.
- Bicycle rack removal and replacement.
- Seed and sod restoration, erosion control, and shade tree replacements.
Benefits and Tips
Recker said the current physical deficiencies of the fields have negatively impacted participation in outdoor recreation at UI.
“This facility has not been utilized to its full capacity for over 20 years,” said Recker. “Events and activities must be rescheduled or canceled on a regular basis. Years of significant rainfall have forced entire seasons to be canceled or some sports. Additionally, wet areas, reoccurring low points and compacted soils present user safety issues.”
For other campus rec departments, Recker advised to first seek input from the student body and listen to their voices.
“This may happen organically, or through intentional surveys or studies,” said Recker. “Use this information to represent the students and advocate for their needs. In addition, gather and track assessment data on facility usage to support your claims.”
Construction is scheduled to begin in Spring 2023 and be completed that fall.
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