University Idles Regarding Future of Kehoe Field

More than a year after the university closed Kehoe Field over safety concerns, university officials have not decided on a replacement plan, and it remains unclear when a new field will be built.

The field was closed entirely in February 2016 after club sports teams and university officials raised concerns over safety.
Structural problems have plagued Kehoe Field since its construction in 1942 and then reconstruction on the roof of Yates Field House in 1979. The field was first repaired in 1987 at a cost of $1.8 million before being repaired again in 2002 for $7 million.

The problems with the field stem from the concrete roof, which does not properly drain rainwater. Over time, the lightweight concrete roof deteriorated from pooling water, leading to unsafe field conditions.

Prior to the field’s closing, club athletes had complained about uneven playing surfaces, exposed concrete and large sections of torn-up artificial turf.

At a board of directors meeting Thursday, university officials expressed their commitment to replacing Kehoe but presented no new substantive details on a plan, according to Women’s Ultimate Frisbee Club captain Michelle Carey (NHS ’17).

According to Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson, university officials continue to study possible solutions.

“We have completed a feasibility study, and are currently working through financial planning to determine the best option to move forward,” Olson wrote in an email to The Hoya. “We understand the importance to this project to students and to our campus community.”

Several club sports team leaders, including current Advisory Board for Club Sports Chair Daniel Fain (COL ’18), plan to invite club athletes and others to a joint practice on Copley Lawn on Thursday afternoon to call for more field space on campus. The event, “Play to Fix Kehoe,” is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m.

Georgetown Running Club Vice President Jimmy McGrath (COL ’17), who chaired the Advisory Board for Club Sports at the time of Kehoe’s closing, said the university did not initially know what to do with Kehoe after closing. However, McGrath said university officials seemed to conclude later in the semester that repairing the field in the short term was unrealistic.

“As the semester progressed, they basically came to the conclusion that a short-term solution for fixing it was not really financially viable, and they were just going to wait and leave it closed until the larger campus plan would include a bigger shift in changing Kehoe and Yates itself,” McGrath said.

Since the field’s closing, club sports teams have struggled to secure replacement fields to hold practice. Kehoe had previously been the main field for club sports teams, which now have to share Cooper Field with varsity and intramural sports teams.

Men’s Ultimate Frisbee Club captain Perry Cao (SFS ’17) said the options for sports teams are less than ideal. When Cooper Field is not available, club teams are able to use off-campus fields at Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School and the Duke Ellington School of the Arts. According to Cao, this solution came with its own problems.

“It was an imperfect solution, because there are no lights on any of those fields, so we were very limited in terms of practice time. The only time slot we could get was 5 p.m. to dark, and some of the weeks where we were off Cooper, 5:30 to dark was like 5:30 to 5:45.”

According to Cao, the off-campus location and inconsistent practice times made it difficult for many of the athletes to attend. The captains struggled with recruitment and attendance at practices dwindled.

“My biggest frustration is with Georgetown for not planning for the closure of Kehoe, because they knew it was going to happen and they didn’t do anything about it, which is completely negligent,” Cao said. “Not ensuring that [club athletes] have space to practice and run their extracurriculars, I think that’s really negligent.”

As long as Kehoe remains shuttered, according to Cao, Georgetown club sports teams’ frustrations are unlikely to subside.

“All of club sports is really, really furious about it, just because Georgetown has so little field space,” Cao said. “Without Kehoe to practice on, our options are incredibly limited.”

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