New Sports Field Coming to West Campus
$3 million from New Balance helps BU double field capacity, add men’s lacrosse| From Commonwealth | By Amy Sutherland
New Balance Field on West Campus, which will open in fall 2013, will have stadium seating for 1,000 and a 350-space garage. Rendering courtesy of Clough Harbour & Associates
Athletic shoe manufacturer New Balance has pledged $3 million to Boston University for a new and much-needed sports field that will greatly improve athletic and recreational life.
New Balance Field is being built on Babcock Street, near Nickerson Field, and will open in fall 2013. It will effectively double BU’s field capacity, making it possible to bring field hockey back to campus and to add varsity sports, notably a men’s varsity lacrosse team, which will play its premier season the following spring at Nickerson Field.
“As a Boston-based company with a long-standing commitment to promoting health and fitness and giving back to the local community, we are excited to help provide this valuable athletic resource for the Boston University community,” says Robert DeMartini, president and CEO of New Balance. “We share Boston University’s passion and dedication to continued innovation and excellence in sport, and enhancing the lives of their student-athletes and the greater Boston University community.”
“New Balance Field will be a major addition to our athletic and recreational facilities,” says President Robert A. Brown. “I am very grateful to New Balance for its leadership and support and to our alumni who have given generously to make this facility a reality. The field will benefit not only our student-athletes and the greater BU community, but it will allow us to expand our very successful NCAA Division I athletics program.”
At 110,000 square feet, New Balance Field will fill the BU-owned block surrounded by Babcock, Gardner, Alcorn, and Ashford Streets. The open-air field will have a brick facade and stadium seating for 1,000. A 350-space parking garage will be built under the field, with an entrance on Ashford Street. The total cost of the field and the parking area is estimated at $24 million.
A second athletic field is a welcome solution to a space crunch on a campus where 3 varsity teams and nearly 200 intramural teams vie for space on one field. Nickerson Field has been so heavily used that the artificial turf that should have lasted 15 years had to be replaced after 8. It is often necessary to reserve the field six months in advance.
The women’s varsity field hockey team had to leave Nickerson after the 2000 season, when FieldTurf, which is too spongy and slow for the sport, was installed. The nationally ranked team has not played or practiced at BU for the past 11 years, but has had to be bused to games and daily practices at MIT or Harvard.
“This new field is huge,” says coach Sally Starr. “Now we’ll have one of the best fields in the conference. It will help our recruiting greatly.”
BU will also add a women’s varsity lightweight rowing team next fall.
New Balance Field will also make it possible for BU to increase the number of intramural sports and to bring back club sports that have had to play off campus, such as men’s and women’s rugby.
The field will beautify a relatively unattractive parcel on campus. A large surface parking lot has filled most of the block, and a run-down brick building housing the BU Bands and ROTC program, as well as surplus office furniture, has dominated the corner of Babcock and Gardner Streets.