Recreational Sports fields to be added on North Campus


The Board of Regents has approved construction of two new artificial-turf sports fields on North Campus, to serve as a space for student health and well-being.

The Recreational Sports fields will replace facilities displaced by the new Central Campus housing and dining project planned for the current Elbel Field site at the corner of South Division and Hill streets. 

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The $14 million project, which regents approved March 23, will accommodate intramural sports programs, club sports practices and competitions, student drop-in use, and other programs for students, faculty and staff.

“We are committed to providing an array of spaces where students can build community and find ways to explore what physical and mental well-being means to them,” said Martino Harmon, vice president for student life. “These fields are a vital part of our efforts to support health and well-being on campus.”

Relocation of the fields to a site off Hubbard Road, near the North Campus Recreation Building, will result in two 125-yard turf fields compared with the single turf one and two grass fields at the current Elbel Field site. 

Regents approved a new Central Campus housing and dining facility, as well as the relocation of the Michigan Marching Band’s outdoor practice facility, on Feb. 16.

University leaders have expressed the importance of the on-campus fields, as they accommodate soccer, lacrosse, rugby, ultimate frisbee, flag football and more. 

“These new fields provide tremendous opportunities for U-M students to engage, compete, build community and recreate in many ways that contribute to their overall student experience,” said Mike Widen, director of Recreational Sports.

Widen said it’s also important to see continued investment in destination spaces for North Campus.

Elbel Field is used by a wide range of groups on campus and hosts approximately 50 hours per week of competitions, practices, events and activities during the fall semester. In total, nearly 24,000 students use the Recreational Sports fields for student organization events each year, and an additional 4,700 students use the fields for club and intramural sports.

The project also will include significant regrading and soil balancing for eight acres, construction of retaining walls, installation of netting, stormwater management, and field lighting around the field’s perimeter configured to minimize light spill beyond the fields. 

The site is near U-M bus stops and a pedestrian route to the fields. Restrooms also will be available on site.

The two sand volleyball courts and softball fields at Elbel Field will be incorporated into existing Recreational Sports space elsewhere on campus at sites yet to be determined.

Construction is expected to be completed for use this fall. Funding for the fields will be provided by Student Life resources, and they will be designed by the architectural firm SmithGroup.


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