New NIU Outdoor Recreation Sports Complex set to open next fall, groundbreaking held today

Artist’s rendering of Outdoor Recreation Sports ComplexA gathering of NIU students, administrators, staff and dignitaries braved “Huskie weather” to attend this afternoon’s ceremonial groundbreaking for the university’s new 27-acre outdoor intramural sports complex.

Completion is expected in time for the Fall 2013 semester.

“The complex will create opportunities for our students to forge new friendships, help them connect to campus and keep them healthy,” NIU President John G. Peters told the crowd today. “And happy, healthy students who feel connected to campus not only have a much more fulfilling college experience, they are much more likely to graduate – all important attributes of a student-centered university.”

The Outdoor Recreation Sports Complex, a key component of the “New Northern Lifestyle” and Vision 2020 Initiative, will feature lighted multi-use sports fields where soccer, rugby, flag football, lacrosse, baseball, softball and Ultimate Frisbee can be played.

All fields will be irrigated and drained for great quality play. New walks will surround the fields allowing students easy access to the fields and the ability to walk a three-quarter-mile lap within the facility. Two shade shelters will also be included to give teams a meeting space before and after games and spectators a place in the shade.

“This state-of-the-art facility will offer so many more recreational opportunities for all NIU students,” said Sandi Carlisle, director of Campus Recreation, acknowledging the tremendous support the project received from President Peters, the NIU Student Association, Division of Finance and Facilities and Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management. “With multiple fields and lights, the department will be able to better meet students’ needs.”

NIU held a groundbreaking ceremony Oct. 18 for the Outdoor Recreation Sports Complex.

Student reaction to the construction of the facility has been positive, affirming the results of a 2010 student survey regarding construction of the state-of-the-art facility.

“I think the new outdoor rec will be great for student life. It will give students another place to hang out and exercise, especially people who hate working out indoors,” said Sarah Rooney, a junior speech pathology major. “Another great thing about this is [that there will be] more options and activities without having to wait around for a machine.”

“Students will have more choices to relax outdoors and play outside than what is already offered,” said NIU junior Joli Patel, a double-major in political science and Spanish. “So many students here love sports … it will be convenient for them.”

“It will be another new facility with everything in it brand new, which people always seem to like,” added freshman Brock Foellmer about the impact the facility will give to NIU recruitment efforts. “I’m sure this means the newest technology, which also interests people. It gives us a leg up on other schools without one.”

Student Association President Delonte LeFlore speaks at the Oct. 18 groundbreaking ceremony.

Student Association President Delonte LeFlore speaks at the Oct. 18 groundbreaking ceremony.

The new facility will allow the university to host more competitions for sport clubs as well as large-scale weekend tournaments, allow more flexibility in scheduling more intramural sports and better accommodate rain-outs in addition to allowing the university to meet requirements to host major regional extramural sports tournaments.

Delonte LeFlore, president of the NIU Student Association, said intramural sports and sports clubs allow students to gain skills for interacting in a diverse world through participation with teammates, classmates and others from different institutions, providing them with “an even-richer NIU experience.”

LeFlore recognized the successes of NIU’s sport clubs over the past year – including an undefeated conference record in baseball, a regional championship for men’s rugby, an Illinois State Tournament championship in women’s rugby and a Great Lakes League title in lacrosse – and explained the impact the new complex will have on the programs.

“With this state-of-the-art facility, our teams will have the opportunity to continue to be successful and represent NIU within the state as well as regionally and nationally,” he said.

“Sport club members and intramural sport participants will be able to play at night when students are more available,” Carlisle added. “They will be able to drop in and play a sport anytime there are open recreation hours. What a great addition this will be for NIU!”

While freshman Sergio Manani attends NIU to study economics, he plans on using the new complex “all the time” when the weather allows, adding, “I really love to play soccer.”

The complex, which will be located north of the Convocation Center and west of Stevenson Hall, is slated to be completed in August 2013. Although President Peters will step aside as president in June, he promised he will  lead students in the first jog around the track when the complex gets completed on time and under budget.

QUICK FACTS

  • Official Name: Northern Illinois University Outdoor Recreation Sports Complex
  • Size of project: 27 acres
  • Square Feet of synthetic sports turf: 186,200
  • Square feet of building: 2,700 square feet
  • Builder: Scandroli Construction
  • Prime Consultant: Upland Design Ltd.
  • Architect: PHN Architects
  • Completion Date: August 2013
  • Trees to be planted: 232
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