October 16, 2002

Town Considers Plan for New Athletic Fields

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As part of the Life Sciences Initiative, the University plans to construct a building on a site currently occupied by Alumni Field. Yesterday, the Town of Ithaca Planning Board met at Town Hall to discuss a construction proposal for five University athletic fields to replace Alumni Field.

They unanimously agreed to consider a Sketch Plan review which includes the construction of two lighted athletic fields and three non-lighted fields, a supporting building and parking to accommodate 25 to 30 cars. The proposed site is located at the southeast corner of Pine Tree and Ellis Hollow Roads, an area currently used for University horse paddocks.

The site is past the College of Veterinary Medicine, and players would most likely have to be bussed there, according to Andy Noel, director of athletics.

The proposed Life Sciences building would include space for both research and laboratories and space for science subjects including biology, chemistry, physics, statistical sciences and engineering. On January 28, the Board of Trustees decided on Alumni Field as the site for the new building.

“In bringing these [sciences] together, it plays to Cornell’s advantage,” said Kraig K. Adler, vice provost of the College of Biology and Life Sciences. “What we’re trying to do is bring together the very best of science and engineering at Cornell University.”

According to Adler, The decision to construct the building was based largely on the location. Estimates suggest that there will be over 1,000 undergraduates using the proposed building every week. Students and faculty will be coming from the Arts Quad, Engineering Quad and the Agriculture Quad.

“For maximum effectiveness in the building,” Adler said, “it needs to be located properly on the campus in terms of the people who will utilize this.”

Many who live around the proposed site expressed their objections. Questions raised included the effects of lighted fields upon the neighborhoods in terms of glare and excess light.

One citizen expressed particular concern about excess noise coming from the athletes in the fields, claiming that he could already hear football game announcements from his back yard.

Others expressed concern over the destruction of the rural environment and the effects removing vegetation in order to build fields would have on flooding in the area. Some residents also questioned the University’s selection process.

Several coaches had objected to the decision to demolish Alumni Field, as the displaced fields would make practice less convenient for athletes.

“Obviously, we would hope that students could walk out and practice in front of their dorms or fraternities or sororities,” Noel said. “The bottom line is that a $500 million Life Sciences Initiative was a very important element to our University.”

As a result, the practice location of certain athletic teams will be displaced, the men’s soccer, women’s soccer and women’s lacrosse teams in particular. To give these teams a place to practice, the five new fields were proposed.

“The reason the site is superior is because there’s enough room there to accommodate not only the fields we will be losing on central campus, but there’s also room for expansion for some future playing fields that we’ll also be proposing,” said John Gutenberger, the University’s director of Community Relations.

Noel suggested that having five practice fields would be useful for summer athletic camps as well, explaining that these camps help to generate funds for athletic programs.

Archived article by David Hillis