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Field turf big step for sports complex

Northwest Guardian

Published: 04:22PM April 30th, 2015

The list of things left in the construction of the new $14 million outdoor Lewis North Sports Complex on Joint Base Lewis-McChord is getting shorter. One of the biggest items left to cross off the list is laying down the synthetic turf, which started Monday.

Rolling out the synthetic turf fields for the four softball fields and two multipurpose fields — intended for flag football, soccer and rugby — is expected to take between five to seven weeks. After that, the project could be finished ahead of the contractors’ official end date in August.

“The biggest thing right now is the installation of the turf,” said Richard Randall, chief of community recreation division at JBLM’s Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation. “Once that’s down, sometime in the next week they’ll do a night test with the lights — then it’s just a matter of finishing up the project.”

There are parts of the complex nearly done, with the basketball courts and the plaza at the center of the softball fields — which will include concessions and restrooms — are about two-thirds done, according to Randall. Chain-link fencing throughout the complex is about three-fourths of the way done, with parts of the outfield fence and backstops left to do.

If things continue to move along as they have, the concrete work for the walkways for the softball fields and plaza will begin in June. The complex may open this summer — unless delaying factors pop up — after tests of the stadium lights and other landscaping needs are completed.

Construction began in August to provide a sports complex on a 25-acre plot between 32nd Division Drive and H Street to provide service members with state-of-the-art facilities similar to the Regional Athletic Complex in Lacey. Randall said the staff at Family and MWR felt the need to provide more venues for not only intramural sports programs, but for service members who want to play a pick-up game.

While JBLM offers Cowan Stadium, on Lewis Main, and Rainier Field, on McChord Field, the only softball fields available for games are Baker and St. Helen’s fields on McChord Field and one behind Soldiers Field House on Lewis Main. Recent construction on the installation has taken away other softball fields, including the ones at Sheridan Fitness Center on Lewis Main and three fields behind Soldiers Field House.

The new fields will also replace the softball fields currently across the street from the Warrior Zone and Wilson Sports and Fitness Center — which Randall said have had issues with rocks coming up after rainy days and do not meet Family and MWR standards.

The outdoor sports complex will not only provide new fields, but will be resistant to wear and tear from other games and can host games 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Randall added there’s hopes the complex can help extend the intramural softball season into the fall and even host a potential tournament during the winter months.

“There will be so much flexibility, it gives the service members the opportunity to compete in intramurals all year round on high-quality fields,” Randall said. “This complex will be the gold standard for the Department of Defense.”