This summer's intense rain turned the space into a muddy construction site, but as fall has taken hold around the Triangle, the grass - and turf - of new athletic fields along Frank Bassett Drive is coming to life.
Two turf and one grass field tucked between Cameron Boulevard and Wallace Wade Stadium will be open for use by students, faculty and staff in December. The new fields are among Duke Athletics' first construction projects as part of the Duke Forward fundraising campaign.
"Before, our grass fields weren't the most ideal size and had drainage issues if we got too much rain," said Audrey Frasca, project manager with Duke's Facilities Management Department. "With artificial turf, we'll be able to allow for play all-year round without worrying about overuse."
The project, which comprises slightly more than seven acres, began after graduation in May and was delayed because of the unusually wet summer weather.
Each turf field will be about 70-yards wide and 110-yards long and the grass field will stretch 60-yards wide and 120-yards long. Surfaces will be marked for flag football, lacrosse and soccer. The grass field has been planted with Bermudagrass, which is ideal for sports fields because it handles warm climates well and is durable against heavy use, said Bob Weiseman, director of athletic facilities.
All Duke community members are welcome to use the artificial turf fields, which will be open when not in use by athletic teams, club sports or recreation. Open hours will vary daily based on scheduled use. Duke Athletics will have part-time staff at the fields to help maintain the playing surfaces and check DukeCard IDs of those wishing to use the fields.
In addition to the fields, a new audio-visual center has been built so varsity athletic teams can record practices and games. Six cameras will be attached to lighting poles surrounding the fields.
As a secondary part of construction, Facilities Management will oversee the installation of a new track adjacent to the new playing fields on Bassett Drive and Koskinen Stadium. As part of a $9 million donation for construction, Duke will begin building the new track in February 2014. It will also include a new bleacher area to hold about 500 spectators.
The space is expected to be finished by the fall of 2014 and will also include a new media and hospitality facility. New bleachers will also be installed at Koskinen Stadium this winter.
"These are important, positive changes we're making," Weiseman said. "Not only will Athletics get improved facilities, but everyone at Duke will benefit."