Alexandrias first artificially turfed athletic field is almost ready, just in time for the start of the 2007 T. C. Williams field hockey season.
The Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Activities proposed putting artificial turf on at least one field a year for the next 10 years with a price tag of just under $1 million per field. The department began with the rectangular playing field at Minnie Howard.
The project is on time and on budget, said Roger Blakeley, the deputy director for parks. The drainage system is in, the stones are down and the contractor is beginning to install the carpet this week. The project has gone smoothly because of the upfront work we did with the specs, selecting a vendor and monitoring the installation carefully. Our contract called for the field to be finished by Aug. 20 and we think we are going to meet that target. The cost was $850,000.
The field is an infill field that has blades of plastic grass filled in with rubber. The rubber makes it a softer surface that is much better for athletes than the old Astroturf used to be, said Bob Eavenson, assistant athletic director for facilities at T. C. Williams.
The field will also have an irrigation system. These fields do get very warm but thats not a bad thing necessarily, Eavenson said. The heat kills bacteria that might be on the field. The irrigation system will allow us to cool it for use when it is extremely hot.
Games can be played on the field even after a hard rain. A long as it is not lightning, we can play, Eavenson said.
The city is already planning the next artificial turf project, the rectangular playing field at Fort Ward Park. St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes School will contribute $200,000 to the cost of the field in return for the use of it during school hours and for some athletic events. Blakeley said that the Capital Department is also submitting a request through the Planning Commission to install lights at the field.
“We don’t believe this will be an issue because there aren’t any real nearby neighbors. It’s mostly office buildings and industrial uses,” he said.
Eavensons field hockey team will be the first to use the new field and with potentially 15 returning varsity players, the girls should christen their new field with many victories.
We finished third in the Patriot District last year and hope to improve on that, Eavenson said. We have all of our defensive starters returning, including our goalie, Amy Greco. When you add senior defensive standouts Kara Donley and Maddie Burns, our defense will be very strong.
At forward, Eavenson has seniors Michaela Balderston and Katherine Cook who were the teams top scorers last year. While there will be new starters at midfield, they, too, are experienced players.
We had 25 girls at camp last week at James Madison University so everyone is ready for the season to begin and we are all very excited about the new field, Eavenson said.
The girls are scheduled to play their first home scrimmage on Aug. 21, and both Eavenson and Blakeley are hopeful that the field will be ready.