The new Campus Recreation Complex’s ribbon cutting ceremony is on Tuesday, September 18 at 2pm. Chancellor Jacquie Moloney and UMass President Marty Meehan are expected to attend. (Jessica Kergo/Connector)
A brand-new athletic space for club and intramural sports, as well as the rest of the UMass Lowell community is formally opening this week on East Campus called the Campus Recreation Complex.
Situated across from the Campus Recreation Center on Aiken Street, the complex features 123,000 square feet of turf that is adaptable to different sports, two tennis courts that can be transformed into street hockey rinks, outdoor lockers and water fountains.
“It’s something that we’ve realized is going to have a huge impact on students,” said Justin Lawler, Associate Director of Campus Recreation, who is very excited to see this additional facility on campus for more students to enjoy athletic activities.
Lawler noted the significant increase of student participation in club and intramural sports at UMass Lowell since he started in 2006 and that the Campus Recreation Complex helps the campus to sustain that growth.
“It creates an opportunity for more students to participate. It creates opportunity for other teams that we weren’t able to offer”.
According to the recreation center’s annual reports, intramural sport participation grew from 5,012 students in 2014 to 6,378 in 2017 at UMass Lowell, while club sport participation grew from 497 students in 2014 to 852 students in 2018.
Construction for the Campus Recreation Complex began back in May of 2017. While the field’s official ribbon cutting is not until Tuesday, Sept. 18, the field has been used by club and intramural teams at UMass Lowell since the spring of 2018.
Senior mechanical engineering major and women’s club rugby team captain Emily Hatfield appreciates the convenience her team found with the turf fields.
“It’s so much more flexible for what teams want, it can be transformed into so many things,” said Hatfield.
The two fields were designed for lacrosse, rugby, soccer and cricket, but any sport can make use of them as they were made to be multi-purpose fields. The turf, which is originally two soccer fields, can be split into four smaller fields that can all be used at once. In addition, club sports are even allowed to store their equipment in a locked building directly on the field.
But beyond the perks of versatility, Hatfield’s favorite aspect of the new facility is that the team no longer has to practice late at night like they used to when they were sharing the Division 1 fields.
“We used to have to practice until 11 p.m. but now we get to practice at 8 p.m. and get out by 9:30,” said Hatfield.
Senior business major Liam Coburn, who serves as the president of UMass Lowell’s club ultimate team, says that the convenience of the facility has helped their team participation since it is so close to the East Campus residence halls.
“We would have trouble sometimes retaining numbers because it used to be so hard to access the fields,” said Coburn while thinking back to when his team practiced on North Campus.
Like Hatfield, Coburn also appreciates the additional playing time allowed with the fields.
“Now, as opposed to having two or three practices a week, we can have four consistent practices a week,” said Coburn.
Coburn sees the new facility as a positive contribution to the club and intramural programs on campus as a whole.
“We’re kind of a growing team and being able to get more practice hours has been huge in making this a better experience for our players and I think that’s pretty much true for all club and intramural teams,” said Coburn.
All students, not just club and intramural athletes, are expected to benefit from the complex. Any UMass Lowell student is welcome to use the complex when it is not already in use or rent out the space up to one day in advance for up to one hour at the UMass Lowell website.
Soccer balls, frisbees, footballs, tennis rackets and any equipment a student may need to use the fields and courts can be rented at the Campus Recreation Center desk with a valid university ID card. Group fitness instructors will also be able to host their sessions outside on nice days. The field and all amenities run on the same hours as the Campus Recreation Center.
“It’s been a dream for me, personally, to be able to open this space,” said Lawler.