MONROE, La. — The University of Louisiana Monroe announced the installation of new artificial turf for its University Park outdoor recreational complex at a press conference Wednesday.
Funding for the $775,000 project was secured through a collaborative effort between ULM and the Monroe-West Monroe Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB). Geo-Surfaces, a Baton Rouge engineering firm specializing in sports facilities, is responsible for the installation. The projected date of completion is by Thanksgiving, according to Charles Dawson, the company’s founder and CEO.
The initiative for a major renovation of University Park started seven years ago in collaboration with the Monroe-West Monroe CVB. Since then, the park has been equipped with new lighting, backstops and fencing, dugouts, batting cages, and pavilion covers for the bleachers.
The artificial turf comes as the last piece of the puzzle.
Interim VP for Student Affairs, Camile Currier, said that installing turf fields at University Park will ensure that ULM remains one of the most attractive and most-attended student intramural complexes in the state.
“University Park is one of the premiere locations in the entire state for various intramural sporting events,” said Currier. “People want to come here to compete and the new turf will no doubt bring more and more visitors to our campus and region.”
The new turf will offer safer and more attractive surfaces, but they will also allow games and events to be held after heavy rains, which was not always possible with grass fields.
“Students want to compete on turf fields because it means that their events will have a less likely chance of being cancelled due to weather. No one wants to drive 300-500 miles and then have to return home because the fields are not playable,” Currier said.
Hosting over 100,000 games to date, the park has not only served students participating in intramurals, but it has also hosted local, state, regional and national tournaments. Nash Patel, Chair of the Monroe-West Monroe CVB Board of Directors, sees this as a real benefit for the Twin Cities.
“Our mission is to promote tourism and generate events that will generate overnight stays and basically have a positive economic impact in the area,” said Patel. “This [facility] will generate more all year-round tournaments. We’re confident it’s going to reduce weather cancellations, which is something we go through quite often…We want to continue our partnerships with ULM by utilizing the facilities for sports, for introducing potential students that will attend ULM, which generates an economic impact for at least the next four years. So, obviously this is a mutual relationship that benefits both of our causes.”
Scott Bruscato, Senior VP of Sales at the Monroe-West Monroe CVB, was acknowledged for his continued involvement with the university as well as his help in bringing major tournaments to University Park every year.
ULM Athletic Director, Brian Wickstrom, expressed his appreciation for the Monroe-West Monroe CVB’s continued support of ULM and its facilities. ULM head softball coach, Corey Lyon, remarked that the new turf will give ULM a competitive advantage to recruit top softball players from around the state and region.