It was built for equestrians, but soon lacrosse, soccer and other sports enthusiasts will fill the field house at South Run District Park in Springfield.
Construction began in mid-January at the field house on a nearly $300,000 project that will result in marked changes to the facility.
"We no longer have horse farms. We have soccer moms," said Brian Laws, manager of the South Run RECenter, which operates the field house as part of the Fairfax County Park Authority.
"We're anticipating that once the word gets out that we're available, it will be a pretty high demand," said Laws.
The nearly five-month project will consist of two separate phases, both linked to the field house. The first project, awarded to Creative Finishes Inc., is a $195,000 contract to perform general maintenance on the facility.
"This was an underutilized building, and it had a dirt floor that wasn't very suitable for indoor soccer and lacrosse," said Edward Ayscue, project manager for the Fairfax County Park Authority. "A variety of things were looked at, but because of the age of the building, it wasn't feasible to put a lot of money into it."
Instead of massive changes, Ayscue said the work on the ventilation system, doors, bathrooms, roof, and painting will be done will have a significant impact on the 15-year old building.
All this work will supplement the other portion of the project, a $96,000 phase devoted to the installation of a synthetic turf playing surface for the 190-foot-by-90-foot building. Installed by SportGrass Inc., the turf will consist of 2 1/2-inch blades of “grass,” "planted" into a surface of crushed rubber pellets.
"The beauty of that is it has a very real feel. It's very forgiving. It feels like you're on grass," said Laws.
The turf surface — the only one of its kind in a Park Authority indoor facility — will allow South Run to expand its offerings to the public. The field house is used mainly as a poor-weather facility; and for a handful of classes and team practices, changing from the dirt floor which is now in place to the turf field will be a big difference.
"It's a year-round surface. There are a lot of pluses to it," said Fred Gaudry, general manager of Sports Network, an indoor facility located in Manassas which has several similar turf surfaces.
Laying down the turf will be the final phase of the project, which Ayscue said should be done by early May.
Money for the projects came from the parks portion of the 1998 Fairfax County Bond Referendum. Laws said in addition to offering more classes for adults and children, the rec center will be able to accommodate more sports teams and use the facility for its summer camp program.
"One of the things the community has clearly said is we needed more rectangular fields," said Laws. "Whichever community team needs space to practice because they get rained out, they can come over here."