Students, faculty gather for grand opening of recreational fields

Long-awaited construction project completed after a year and a half


Brandon Sans/The Seahawk

UNCW Chancellor Jose V. Sartartelli, center-left, cuts the ribbon during the grand-opening ceremony for the university’s recreational fields.

Brandon Sans, Assistant Sports Editor

On site to open UNC Wilmington’s new recreational fields, the first thing Chancellor Jose V. Sartarelli did was grab a soccer ball and showcase his dribbling abilities by scoring on a couple of children. Though impressive, the head of the university likely won’t be able to keep up with the students that will soon be making use of the new playground.

The long-awaited recreational fields were completed Wednesday after more than a year and a half of construction. University officials and students gathered for the grand-opening ceremony to celebrate the occasion, which was capped-off with a ribbon cutting featuring the chancellor.

For many, it was a chance to see the fields – occupying the area along Riegel Road and Hamilton Drive – for the first time. Many crouched to feel the first synthetic turf field at UNCW, which now makes the campus a destination for tournaments and other sporting events.

“My whole team was beyond excited to learn about these new fields. (Field) hockey can be played on grass or turf, but it’s a whole different level of play on a turf field,” said UNCW student Katie Solinski at the ceremony. “Before, we had to go to schools like Duke to play on a turf field, but now we have one in our own backyard.”

The area is made up of three fields: two made of synthetic turf and outlined in teal, and one natural grass field next to them. All three fields have pre-drawn lines for sports like intramural football and soccer. It also features a storage building which doubles as an entrance.

The fields are designed to limit weather-related delays for activities. If it rained in the past, games would likely be canceled for safety concerns. But turf dries quicker than natural grass, making weather less likely to impede students.

It is the university’s hope that the fields will help more students find their place at UNCW through the teams and sports that are available to them.

“It’s so exciting. I think anytime you can do something that improves the campus or makes it a better experience for students, it’s really what UNCW is about,” said Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Patricia Leonard. “It’s always about making something better for our students. And this was long overdue.”

Though most time spent designing was done with contracted professionals who could assess the true needs and qualities to build the fields, the student body did have its say in one significant detail.

“The real student input was getting the color of the fields,” said Leonard. “I went to SGA and they were the ones who suggested that we border it with teal. I was going to do the whole field in teal; they thought that would be a bit too much.”

The fields mark the second project recently completed by UNCW. The campus’ newest dining hall, The Hub, opened on Aug. 12 for students and staff. Renovations are underway at Boseman Field that includes a coach’s offices, meeting room and press box. A sign went up Wednesday at the location of the future Allied Health Building and parking lot on the east side of campus.

Assistant Sports Editor Brandon Sans can be found on Twitter @Bsans10. Any tips or suggestions should be forwarded via email to