With its jagged edges, deep indents and torn seams, Kehoe Field wears the scars of an overdrawn battle that has finally come to an end after 37 years. On Feb. 2, it was announced that Kehoe Field was unfit for student use, which the athletics department determined for varsity athletes nine years ago. While we are happy that the field is closing for the safety of students, this is not the end of the problem, but rather the beginning.
The abrupt closing of the field means that this semester’s club sports will be without field access for four weeks, and in the coming fall that number will grow to eight. Club sports athletes are a huge demographic in the Georgetown community, with about one in every seven undergraduates participating on some of the most competitive teams at our school. It is unreasonable and unfair to have club sports teams attend tournaments having not practiced for a week and a half; they usually only get two practices a week as it is.
At the Hoya Roundtable addressing recreational athletic concerns on Feb. 3, Robin Morey, the vice president for planning and facilities management, discussed the plan to build a new fitness complex. This new fitness complex would replace Yates Field House and would be situated where Shaw Field is now. The plan involves starting construction on the complex in a minimum of 10 years with an estimated cost of $75 million. This plan would greatly benefit the campus in the long term, resulting in the expansion and modernization of facilities. However, it does little to address the needs of the students now. Georgetown students have expressed concerns through many different outlets about the future of Kehoe, and we were excited about the Hoya Roundtable last month when we heard about it. Unfortunately, the follow-up from the Roundtable was disjointed and underwhelming. After three weeks without any discussion of the roundtable, we received an email with what amounted to a list of sentence fragments and phrases that were recorded during the roundtable. There was no apparent reflection on what was said, nor was there a coherent next step.
Georgetown recreational athletics cannot be expected to continue on at such a limited capacity for the next 10 and more years. This would mean that entire classes of Georgetown students would spend their four years on the Hilltop knowing nothing but restricted programming and with access to only a single field on our campus. Campus recreation is important to a large portion of prospective students every year, and our current situation is in no way competitive with peer universities. We, the Advisory Board for Club Sports, support an intermediate plan that involves completely renovating the roof of Yates, which would help to stop the ongoing leaks within the building and remedy the structural problems affecting the field above, and laying down a new turf field. Because the expected life of a turf field is about 10 years, this would bridge the gap between the current and the future fitness complex. The roof renovation and new field would take about six months to complete and would cost about $10 million, according to Mr. Morey’s presentation, a price that is well worth it considering that there are over 1,100 club and 2,800 intramural athletes. The closing has also forced Intramurals to limit the number of outdoor sports they can offer and has forced them to significantly cut the amount of games played in outdoor sports leagues.
Georgetown’s club sports have experienced incredible success over the past few years; however, we are not sure they will be able to continue this success without consistent access to facilities and field space. We hosted our own roundtable with leadership from the teams that regularly practiced on Kehoe. Together we went through the possible options for alternative field space outside Georgetown’s gates and attempted to find a solution that worked for as many teams as possible. The main issues for teams were finding places for them to practice at night so as not to interfere with their academic schedules and attempting to keep travel distances and costs to a minimum.
We continue to work to find a sustainable place for our field teams to practice for the near future, but we implore the university to strongly consider refurbishing Kehoe as soon as possible. We hope that the next ten years of Hoyas do not have to walk past a dilapidated Astroturf eyesore on their walk through campus, but rather have a place to practice and compete.
Julie Reiter is a junior in the School of Nursing and Health Sciences.