Lowell, MA – The UMass Lowell athletic field expansion and upgrade associated with its move to America East and Division I included four very different field constructions (a new nylon turf field, a new infilled turf field, the reuse of a turf field, and a new grass field), with the two new fields reusing materials from the two renovated fields. In a short six months, UMass Lowell completely redeveloped its outdoor athletic complex, increasing capacity particularly for its recreation users, and gained NCAA Division I compliance in an innovative,environmentally-sustainable, and cost-effective manner.
UMass Lowell is no stranger to sports innovation. In 2000, Gale Associates, Inc. installed New England’s first infilled synthetic turf field at Cushing Field under an athletic campus revitalization designed by Gale. This infilled system was replaced in 2010 after hosting 720 scheduled events per year, far beyond the capacity of a grass field.
The move to Division I required that Cushing be converted to a knitted nylon system with the removal and reuse of the three-year-old turf. UMass Lowell sought intellectual property relief from Boise State and specified a blue Astroturf nylon field, enhancing the University’s imaging and branding.
With the introduction of men’s and women’s lacrosse, the demands placed on the natural-turf soccer pitch were unsustainable. With the addition of over 200 more games and practices on an already over-taxed field, no grass maintenance program would result in a healthy, safe stand of athletic turf. UMass Lowell decided to install a long-pile infilled synthetic turf field. A colored border and two-tone alternating mow pattern helped to image the venue as a first-class Division I facility. The soccer field synthetic turf replacement resulted in the removal of over 3,700 cubic yards of top soil. This top soil was put to good use,.
The UMass Lowell Campus Recreation Center opened in 2002 and its front lawn quickly became an important open space for informal recreation play. Games, such as ultimate frisbee and touch football, are played there on a daily basis throughout the fall and spring. The sloping lawn, never designed to support active recreation, was poorly drained and subject to perennial root zone breakdown and erosion, creating an eyesore in a highly-visible part of campus. Re-installation of the three-year-old synthetic turf carpet removed from Cushing was a cost-effective and environmentally-sustainable approach to resolving this problem.
Gale has provided design services for over 160 synthetic turf fields; however, this is the first involving the recycling of an entire field. The Gale design resolved the lawn planarity challenges and the site contractor, Quirk Construction, developed innovative techniques for harvesting the turf panels, tailoring them to fit a new layout, and re-seaming the previously used turf.