University recreation to build more intramural fields

Intramural Map (1)

By Ginny Monk

The Razorback Reporter

In response to a growing enrollment, the UA Board of Trustees approved plans to spend $20 million to build more fields for intramural and club sports.

The fields will be at the northeast corner of Cato Springs and Razorback Road, behind Indian Trail by Sonic and on Lewis Fields near Asbell Elementary, said Mike Johnson, vice provost of Facilities Management.

This project will be paid by the student facilities fee and some reserve funds, University Recreation Director Jeremy Battjes said.

The fields are about nine acres and should be three times that size to serve a student population of almost 28,000, Battjes said. The UofA has 29 active club sports, 10 of which use the playing fields. About 3,000 students compete in more than 30 intramural sports every year, according to the University Recreation webpage.

“They’re worn out,” Battjes said. “We use those fields for any and everything. Having additional facilities would give us the opportunity to offer more sports and more variety in times.”

University Recreation uses a nine-acre outdoor sports complex for intramural and club sports. It includes multi-purpose fields and two sand volleyball courts. The fields can be converted into four playing fields for sports such as flag football, soccer and Ultimate Frisbee, or two softball fields, according to the University Recreation website.

The university has bought about 100 acres for the fields over the past several years, Johnson said.

The project will take three to four years to complete because all the money will not come in to pay for it at the same time, Johnson said. The expansion is scheduled to be completed by 2019, according to the Board of Trustees agenda.

The largest space will be at Cato Springs and Razorback Road and will include six flag-football or soccer fields, four softball fields, three basketball courts and four volleyball courts. It will be about 72 acres, according to the agenda.

The other two locations will have three club sport fields and up to 12 tennis courts. The location south of MLK Boulevard will be about 9 acres. The location on Mount Comfort Road will be about 25 acres, according to the agenda.

The fields will have some artificial turf and some natural turf so that when it rains the games do not have to be postponed or canceled. They also will help keep students from having to be out on the fields late at night practicing. Night practices can go as late as 9 or 10 p.m., Battjes said.

The new fields will benefit students because they will get increased availability and more flexible practice times, said Allison Sims, Women’s Rugby Club president. The team has to work around other club sports’ schedules for practice time, often ending up being late. The women’s rugby team often shares the field with the men’s rugby team during practice, she said.

The team does not know the practice schedule for next semester, which makes it harder to recruit new players, Sims said.

“It’s just like class,” Sims said. “If you have to miss one class every week, you’re going to lose all that information, so it’s hard to not get to choose your practice time.”

Adrienne Rose contributed to this article. A version of this article appeared in The Arkansas Traveler.