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March 25, 2011

Witter Rugby Field undergoes repairs

BERKELEY -- In order to assure safety and suitability for student-athletes and intramural sports teams, the base under the recently installed artificial turf at Witter Rugby Field is being replaced due to unanticipated structural issues.

The field was converted from natural grass to an artificial surface in the fall to support additional intercollegiate and intramural sports use while Memorial Stadium is undergoing its renovation and seismic retrofit.

"The structural base and drainage systems are simply not performing as required, and we are moving swiftly and aggressively to rectify the situation," said Bob Milano Jr., Assistant Athletic Director for Capital Planning and Management.

Construction activities at Witter Rugby Field are scheduled to begin on April 4 and are anticipated to be completed by early June in time for summer sports camps. The cause of the base failures, exacerbated by the recent heavy rains, is still being evaluated and analyzed.

The reconstruction of the foundation for the synthetic turf will include the placement of an extensive new network of drainage piping and a permeable crushed stone base. The work will be completed in two phases, leaving portions of the field not yet affected by the base failure available for use throughout the process. Full field team activities for football, rugby, lacrosse and intramural sports will be relocated to other facilities during the two-month repair period.

Cal's football spring practice, which starts Tuesday, March 29, will move to two primary venues - Golden Bear Field on Cal's Clark Kerr Campus and Laney College in Oakland. All football team workouts are closed to the public except on the following dates - April 2 (Laney), April 9 (Grant High School, Sacramento), April 16 (Valley Christian High School, San Jose) and April 30 (San Ramon Valley High School, Danville). The off-site practices in Sacramento, San Jose and Danville had been previously scheduled.

"Although we are disappointed that the physical condition of the turf at Witter Rugby Field will not allow us to hold our practices at the facility this spring, it is important that we do everything possible to ensure the safety of our players," head football coach Jeff Tedford said. "Moving our spring practices is something that we've determined is necessary for us to do while the turf is being repaired."

Both the lacrosse and rugby programs will continue to hold the majority of their practice sessions on Witter Rugby Field and will use alternate sites when required. The only competition impacted by the construction is an April 8 lacrosse match vs. Oregon, and Athletic Department officials are in the process of securing a suitable location.

Some intramural sports games will also need to be moved due to the construction. Participants should call Recreational Sports at (510) 643-6822 or email ucbim@berkeley.edu for more information.


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