In the spring of 2009, the Associated Students of Utah State University (ASUSU) President Tyler Tolson was elected on a campaign platform that included the objective of building new recreational and wellness facilities for students on the Logan campus. President Tolson and his platform proved to be so popular with students that he was re-elected for a second term in 2010.
Shortly after his first term election in 2009, President Tolson enlisted the help of newly-arrived Vice President for Student Services James Morales to begin exploring the feasibility of building these new facilities. President Tolson also secured the support of other student leaders, university administrators, staff, and faculty in the effort. The two student body presidents that followed President Tolson, and many other student leaders, also supported the vision of creating new recreational facilities.
President Tolson and Vice President Morales assembled a steering committee to draft a proposal to develop the new student facilities in support of an expanded vision of student recreation and wellness, by providing diverse and integrated amenities within a central complex in the heart of the Logan campus. The new facilities would include the conversion of the Health Physical Education and Recreation (HPER) Fields to synthetic turf with lighting to support year-round and evening use. Historically, the HPER Fields had been used for student-related recreation activities and classes for over 80 years. The fields had been shared by HPER, the Athletics Department, Campus Recreation, Club Sports and others.
The Aggie Legacy Fields Project redesigned the existing HPER Fields into a large synthetic turf field with appropriate lighting in a park-like setting. The fields support year-round usage by students including: open recreation use, HPER classes, Campus Recreation non-credit bearing classes, and special events.
The Aggie Legacy Fields provide expanded outdoor recreational space with all activity areas lighted for night-time use. Functional elements of the Aggie Legacy Fields include:
- Located adjacent to the soon-to-be-built new Aggie Recreation Center;
- Durable, latest-generation artificial turf surface surrounded by decorative fencing;
- One regulation collegiate soccer field, two regulation flag football fields, and two regulation softball fields;
- Fields are also lined for rugby and ultimate Frisbee; and
- Dark-sky compliant, energy-efficient lighting.
The overall cost of this project was $2.46 million which included design, permitting, direct construction, equipment, and contract administration. Half of the cost for this project was funded by donors and USU’s central administration. A student fee of $25 per semester to pay for the other half of the project costs is being assessed and began fall 2012.
Soon after students approved the project in a referendum in February 2012, a Request for Proposal (RFP) was issued and the local construction firm of Raymond Construction was selected without delay. Construction began in March 2012 and was completed on schedule by the beginning of the fall 2012 semester.
The Aggie Legacy Fields provide the following key benefits to students:
- Provide opportunities for open unstructured play by USU students in a safe and usable environment.
- Provide scheduled space for informal special events such as gatherings, celebrations, etc.
- Provide for safe playing conditions during inclement weather and reduce the need to postpone or cancel intramural sports or club sports competitions.
- Expand the number of intramural sports programs that can be offered.
- Provide for flexibility in meeting students’ programming needs by increasing the time slots available for scheduling intramural and club sports games and practices.
- Increase the capacity to meet the growth in intramural and club sports programs.
- Support the recruitment and retention efforts of the university.
- Provide additional opportunities for revenue generation (during breaks and summer), through camps, rentals, and special programs.
- Reduce maintenance expense and redirect resources to other areas of need.
Other Key Points
Improve Playing Conditions – Natural grass surfaces in the Logan area are very difficult and costly to maintain. The damage on the HPER fields, particularly during wet weather, resulted in poor playing surfaces in the past. Considerable time was needed to ‘heal’ between seasons limiting the availability of program use to fall and spring terms. In addition, all activities were limited to daylight hours only due to the lack of field lighting.
Improve Safety and Risk Management Efforts – On the natural grass HPER fields, it was not uncommon for programs or activities to be postponed or suspended due to unsafe playing conditions. These changes to the normal schedule for intramurals or club sports was based on safety and risk management issues and the ability of the Campus Recreation staff to repair damage to the fields over the winter season and into the spring.
Increased Opportunities – USU’s recent enrollment growth resulted in increased demand for outdoor field space. Non-credit bearing activity classes, intramurals, camps, club sports, and special events were scheduled heavily during the fall and spring semesters. Given this demand, coupled with the general use by students living in the nearby residence halls and for drop-in activities, the HPER Fields could no longer meet the campus needs. Lighting the new Aggie Legacy Fields has served to extend the recreational opportunities for many programs allowing the scheduling of events after the traditional school day and at a times more convenient to students. Informal drop-in activities, intramurals, club sports, campus, and special events can now co-exist due to the utility of the new synthetic playing surface.
Supporting Livability – Open space is an important and valued quality of life issue on any university campus. The campus environment of buildings interwoven throughout with large open, green spaces is one of USU’s major assets. This model provides for an enjoyable setting that enhances the livability of the community; engages its members in activity, and fosters interaction with others – all components of a thriving university society. Once open space is lost, it is very rarely, if ever recovered. No university should ever eliminate or move their green and open spaces to the edge of campus where access is more difficult. The location of the Aggie Legacy Fields, adjacent to the ARC and to where students live, study and work, allows for convenient access to this important recreational and wellness facility.
Enhanced Health & Wellness – The health and wellness of students on the Logan Campus is a central concern to the university. Open space and areas for recreational use are important to that endeavor. The creation of the Aggie Legacy Fields for active participation reinforced that objective and supports the statement that the care of students is a high priority for USU. This open, highly-usable space provides a convenient and visible place for students and others and supports their efforts in pursuing a healthy lifestyle.
Improved Maintenance Efforts – The synthetic turf surface of the Aggie Legacy Fields can be played on year-round in all weather conditions with very little damage. The current cost of annual maintenance (irrigation, mowing, use of chemicals, etc.) is already being reduced. The lifecycle of the synthetic turf surface is projected at about 10 years with replacement of the surface costing about 1/3 of the total initial cost.