Notorious among current and former students for uneven ground and bad drainage, the athletic fields are undergoing construction that will make them "one of the premier college athletic fields in the country," according to David Stewart, director of Recreational Services at Kettering University.
The Kettering Park will encompass 25 acres and add significantly to campus outdoor recreation facilities. With more than 50 percent of the student body participating in intramural sports, Stewart said, the park will enhance the recreational opportunities available for all students.
"Students are very excited about the park," said Randy Dill, a Senior II from Fort Wayne, Ind., and chair of the Student Athletic Council. "The student body has been well-informed about the progress of the fields every step of the way. They are anxious to use the new fields," he said.
Dill sees the park as a healthy outlet for students to alleviate school-related stress while boosting the intramural sports program at Kettering. Some of the new features, such as lighting, will allow intramural play to extend into the evening hours during the fall, he said. As goalie for the Kettering lacrosse team, Dill is anxiously awaiting the new fields where he said the team hopes to host an annual tournament, as well as their newly-established annual homecoming games.
Prior to the new construction the outdoor recreational fields sloped 14 feet, had poor drainage and irrigation and lacked lights. The new park will have drained and irrigated fields comprised of a select sand/soil mix with grass seed prescribed for athletic play by the Turfgrass Management Program at Michigan State University. The soccer/flag football/lacrosse complex will be lit by Musco Lighting for night play. Musco lighting is used by many professional sports stadiums.
The first phase of a three-phase construction plan is already underway. Demolition of existing tennis and sand volley-ball courts, removal of a berm, installation of an irrigation a well, storm sewers and subsurface drainage and irrigation systems are complete. Crews have begun grading and seeding the four new softball fields, the soccer/flag football/lacrosse complex and installing a jogging path around the perimeter.
Phase I is scheduled for completion June 1, 2001. The fields will be available for play beginning spring 2002, said Stewart. Kettering received private funding to start construction of Phase I, and hopes to attract additional support for the remaining phases.
Phase II plans include specially designed lighting for the soccer/flag football/lacrosse complex, installation of ornamental and security fencing and a picnic pavilion with restrooms and storage facilities Stewart said special lighting fixtures that illuminate only the playing fields and not the surrounding neighborhood will go up prior to seeding. In addition, Kettering will install the decorative fencing this fall.
However, due to budget constraints, plans for a picnic pavilion with restrooms are on hold. "If we can save money on other construction costs," said Stewart, "we'll be able to put up the shell of the pavilion, with a view to adding restrooms and storage facilities later."
Construction on the final phase of Kettering Park is down the road a few years, according to Stewart. Phase III involves developing property on the south side of campus between the residence hall and the Flint River. Plans include an addition to the jogging path, four lighted tennis courts, two lighted basketball courts, three lighted sand volleyball courts and a synthetic grass/sand golf green with sand trap and pitching areas.
"These fields will be a source of pride for any student when bringing a visitor to campus," said Dill. "They will serve as a physical representation of the standard of excellence expected from Kettering University."