After years of being pushed aside by Penn, the field hockey program is finally getting a home of its own.
Just as softball received a new stadium when Penn Park opened, the renovations going on at the River Fields will provide field hockey with a new stadium, which will lie right next to soccer’s Rhodes Field.
The idea behind the creation of this new field is not just to give field hockey a state-of-the-art facility that will appeal to recruits, but also increase the aesthetic look of Penn’s entire sporting landscape.
“We’re going to try and have a Penn Park feel to it, so there will be ferns and trees and walkways going around, and so it’s more customer friendly,” athletic director Steve Bilsky said a month ago when renovations began. “It just looks nicer, so that if you were looking down from Center City, you would see Penn Park here, and the River Fields here, and it would look like they go together.”
While Rhodes will continue to carry a brick feel, this new field hockey field will have more hedges and more landscaping surrounding it. A brick path will sit in between the fields, as well as a video scoreboard not quite the size of the one recently installed in the Palestra.
“It will basically be one stanchion, but the soccer scoreboard will face one direction, and field hockey will face the other direction,” Bilsky said. “You can show streaming, you can show games. It will really be a high quality video.”
The 9.5’ x 21’ LED scoreboard and the walkway underneath it will give the River Fields a more open feeling than existed previously at Rhodes.
While Rhodes and the new field hockey field will have a lot in common in regards to their surroundings, the field turf will differ.
Field hockey is one of the few sports left that uses AstroTurf, and thus, the old carpet will be laid at this new field.
The new field may push the program over the edge and give the team its first back-to-back winning seasons since the 2005 and 2006 campaigns in the same way that softball’s new stadium helped grow the program.
Of softball’s stadium, Bilsky said, “It’s a national level stadium. So, from a recruiting standpoint, from a coaching standpoint, from the whole idea of being able to promote something like that, it’s a win for everybody. And it’s not a surprise that we’ve gotten good at softball.”
It won’t take long to see if field hockey’s field will have the same effect on the program.
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