by Brian Bennett
For a significant period of time, it looked like any other construction site. To the impatient eye, as summer moved along, there just seemed to be a lot of dirt being moved, along with some typical, but necessary concrete foundation work. Nothing to suggest any obvious features of the long-awaited Geneseo stadium which would ultimately occupy the space.
Then, in early September, the light towers appeared, providing a considerable hint. But for most watchers (on-site and online), the biggest “wow” moment came in late October when the synthetic turf was unrolled, most notably when the large piece with the Knights’ logo was sewn into place. Marked with the lines of the sports to be played on it, the turf itself perhaps serves as the best tangible reminder that the day is near when Geneseo student-athletes will be practicing and playing on its green surface.
“As with every construction project, there are a number of challenges, both expected and unexpected,” said Assistant Director of Facilities Planning & Construction David Norton, who has managed the project for the college during the entire period. “The recent stretch of snow and colder weather is just one more challenge. But we remain cautiously optimistic that the facility will be ready for use in the spring.”
Specific details have evolved over the design and construction period. The complex consists of two full-size synthetic-turf competition fields striped for soccer, lacrosse and field hockey use. The stadium field is located on the east side of the facility and will have a total seating capacity of 2,000. The majority of seating will be on pre-engineered aluminum deck grandstands, but the center portion of the stands will have 195 individual, chair-back polymer seats. In addition, this section will contain areas set aside for wheelchair seating. Opposite the stands is a hillside, natural-grass berm for additional viewing. A practice and game field is on the west side of the complex and has berm seating on the east side of the field along with a smaller grandstand. Both fields will have their own scoreboards.
The playing surfaces were manufactured and installed by Shaw Sports Turf of Georgia. Shaw is one of the leading synthetic turf companies in North America and counts over 1,500 field installations over the past 20 years. Shaw products are in use at M&T Bank Stadium, home of the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens, as well as at several major Division-I colleges, including the University of Alabama and Ohio State University.
The specific turf system installed on the Geneseo fields is Shaw’s Power Blade SD turf system. Individual 2.5-inch monofilament “grass” fibers form the top layer, along with a cushioning 50-50 infill of sand and black rubber pellets. The turf is made up of two different shades of green fibers, providing a more natural appearance to the field, while field markings, including the Geneseo logos, are comprised of colored fibers. All are attached to Shaw’s Ultraloc backing, which provides dimensional stability and is perforated for enhanced field drainage. Underneath are two primary backing layers of woven material and a secondary polyurethane backing layer.
The stadium field pressbox includes home and visiting team viewing rooms, a media viewing room, a video platform and a VIP suite which includes an adjacent outside viewing porch. Plans are ongoing to have wireless access in the grandstands.
Flanking the grandstand are a pair of one-story masonry and brick veneer support buildings. These house four team rooms with showers, two officials’ locker and shower spaces and an athletic training room. Space for public restrooms and concession facilities, along with grounds maintenance equipment storage, is also included.
Design elements and building materials were chosen to match campus architectural features. The material for the stadium buildings, as well as the 119 fencing pillars which encircle the complex, are the familiar brick with masonry accents found on adjacent college buildings. Metal lattice-work matches the motif introduced on the College Green, and lighting fixtures are similar to those used across the campus. The pressbox tower is reminiscent of the tower on South Hall, which is visible from the stadium.
Two new parking areas have been constructed with parking for 227 vehicles as well as a bus loop for ease of visiting team vehicles. New sidewalks link the stadium with the adjacent Merritt Fieldhouse, with a landscaped pedestrian arcade bisecting the two fields and providing spectator access to both.
The project includes a wide array of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) components. LEED certification is the recognized standard for measuring building sustainability and the rating system is designed to promote “green” design and construction practices. For Geneseo’s stadium, recycled content products, low-emitting VOC (volatile organic compound) products and water-efficient plumbing fixtures have been used. In addition, natural day-lighting to team rooms and restroom facilities will be introduced through translucent clerestory windows and light tubes.
The stadium will meet LEED requirements, a rating that corresponds to the number of credits accrued in five green design categories: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources and indoor environmental quality.
Still, all the behind-the-scenes details will take a backseat the first time a Geneseo team takes the field for competition.
“To say that the anticipation of our coaches, students and college community is at a high level would be an understatement,” said Director of Intercollegiate Athletics and Recreation Michael Mooney. “To be able to see daily progress and know that we’re in the homestretch has everyone excited.”
Brian Bennett is director of design and publications and has worked at the college since 1985. He joined the staff of the athletic department this past August.