With most students having headed home for the summer, construction work has begun on the University of Maine’s outdoor athletic facilities.
Employees from Sargent Corp. in Old Town were busy Tuesday leveling the gravel at the site of the new field hockey field. The work is part of a three-pronged renovation under way on the Orono campus that also will include the installation of synthetic surfaces on Morse Field at Alfond Stadium and at Mahaney Diamond.
The projects, which are expected to cost a combined $2.2 million, were made possible through a $1 million gift from Phillip and Susan (Keene) Morse through the Boston Red Sox Foundation. In 1998, the Morses donated $2.15 million for the playing surface, scoreboard and lights at Morse Field.
The remaining $1.2 million is to be raised from internal loans to be repaid from athletic revenues and/or future gifts, along with some UMaine recreation funds.
Three Maine companies were awarded the contracts for the new work, according to Will Biberstein, UMaine’s associate athletic director for internal operations.
Sargent Corp. is the general contractor that will oversee the project, including the earth work, drainage and fencing. Sebago Technics of Westbrook is taking care of the architectural concerns, while Northeast Turf of South Portland will handle the installation of the FieldTurf and FieldTurf Tarkett Pur artificial surfaces.
Work was scheduled to begin first on Morse Field, home of Black Bears football. Biberstein said the timetable was altered because of concerns about having the facility torn up at graduation and the fact Special Olympics Maine’s Summer Games are scheduled to be held June 6-8 at the Beckett track and field complex, which surrounds Morse Field.
“The FieldTurf product wasn’t going to be on site that early and we didn’t want it to be a safety concern,” Biberstein said. “And as important as the Special Olympics is to the entire state and with the number of people they bring to campus, we wanted to make sure that event went off without any problems.”
Instead, ground was broken first for the field hockey field, which will be located in the area beyond the right field fence of Kessock Field, UMaine’s softball home. The lighted facility will utilize Pur, a flat, knitted nylon surface being imported from Europe.
Crews are expected to start tearing up the old AstroTurf at Morse Field the week of June 9-13. It will be replaced with FieldTurf, a synthetic material that looks and behaves more like natural grass.
Biberstein said that under the best-case scenario, both the football and field hockey fields would be completed on or around Aug. 1, prior to the arrival of the student-athletes for their preseason training.
The installation of lights at the field hockey venue means the facility also will get considerable use by UMaine students.
“The field hockey field will also be shared with campus recreation and club sports. It won’t just be for varsity athletes,” Biberstein said.
The final piece of the puzzle is the renovation of Mahaney Diamond, which is scheduled to get new drainage and FieldTurf. Biberstein said UMaine is in the process of finalizing the financing for that project.
“If things fall into place like we would hope and the contracts go through, baseball would probably start right after the two other fields are completed,” Biberstein said.
UMaine’s athletics Web site, GoBlackBears.com, includes links to Web cameras pointed at the fields. One is located atop the Mahaney Diamond press box and provides a sweeping view of the baseball field and the new field hockey venue.
Another camera located high on the grandstand at Alfond Stadium will give fans a look at the work there once it begins.
Claude Junkins of facilities management, who previously provided Web cams to view the construction of UMaine’s Mahaney Dome and new tennis courts, helped install the cameras for the athletics projects.
Smith, Miller earn NEIBA honors
Curt Smith and Joe Miller of UMaine have been named to the New England Intercollegiate Baseball Association All-Star Team.
Smith, a senior from Curacao, was a first-team choice. The first baseman batted .403 with 11 home runs, 37 RBIs, 60 runs scored and a .722 slugging percentage on his way to being named the America East Player of the Year.
Miller, a sophomore transfer from Valley Stream, N.Y., was a second-team pick. The righthanded pitcher had a 5-2 record with a 3.93 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 56 innings with three complete games.