Construction on Magnolia Fields, a recreational area located at the corner of Alumni and Magnolia drives, is scheduled to end Oct. 1 – just in time for its first event three days later.
Although the type of event has not yet been determined, Eric Hunter, director of Campus Recreation and manager of the new fields, said the reason behind the $1.4 million complex, funded by student-paid Activity and Service fees, is clear.
“The statistics have shown that USF is already behind on the number of fields we should have for our number of students,” Hunter said. “Magnolia Fields is certainly a step in the right direction there because of the number of complaints we’ve had from students in prior years on the poor condition of our existing fields due to overuse.”
The complex, which began being built in June, will include four fields spread over five acres of land designated for intramural, club and recreational use.
Upon completion, the complex will also serve as a temporary replacement for the intramural fields located on Sycamore Drive. Those fields are also currently under construction.
Magnolia Fields, which will be covered in Bermuda grass, will also include sidewalks and bicycle racks and will be surrounded by roads that have been expanded for better bicycle access.
Jennifer Belmont, Student Government (SG) Senate President, said that the University pinpointed the southwest side of campus as a location for the fields because of the abundant space and the large volume of on-campus residents who currently have to go to the other side of campus to play sports.
“Because of the nucleus of students that are beginning to live on that side of campus as a result of Juniper-Poplar Hall and the Magnolia Apartments, we felt it was way overdue for us to make sporting facilities for those students,” Hunter said. He said plans for the program passed by a majority vote during a SG senate meeting last school year and that they have received “much support and excitement.”
Nicole Fernung, a sophomore majoring in biology, said she is excited at the prospect of having a field close to her dorm room in Juniper-Poplar Hall.
“Last semester, I played two or three intramural sports, and they all took place at night,” she said. “I had to walk across campus in the dark, sometimes during late hours with SAFE Team. So this field will be much more convenient and a lot safer.”
But Gaby Romero, a junior majoring in psychology and biomedical sciences, said she is concerned about the loss of another parking lot, “especially while freshmen are still allowed to have cars on campus.”
Although the complex will replace parking lot 47, Belmont said additional parking facilities are balancing out those lost to construction.
“Luckily, on this side of campus, though, we have the new Beard parking garage, which evens it out,” she said. “But parking is inevitably going to be redistributed all over campus, and this lot was underutilized.”
Ken Getty, SG chief of staff, said the complex will be a long-term investment for future campus residents.
“Magnolia Fields is something that we really wanted students to be able to use this year,” he said. “We understand that long term also, this side of campus will be getting more residence halls and buildings, and we need to focus on the quality of life for all of those students involved.”