Yates Field House held an open house in Sellinger Lounge on Nov. 30 to discuss upcoming renovation plans for Kehoe Field. The renovations are expected to begin in late February 2019 and be completed in time for the fall 2019 semester. The cost of the project will be split between the university and the Yates budget.
Kehoe has been closed since February 2016, when university officials deemed it unsafe for student use. The field was built in 1942 but razed in 1976 to make room for Yates. After Kehoe reopened in 1979, it faced persistent structural problems. Drainage issues and the crumbling foundation beneath the field eventually led to seams in the turf coming apart and compromising the field’s level playing surface. According to Chas Kennedy, assistant director of Yates, Kehoe’s design included flaws from the beginning.
“It was a bad design. It was a failure from the get-go,” Kennedy said. “The university lived with the problems that were there, but the problems that were there kept getting worse.”
Because Kehoe was primarily used for intramural and club sports, student groups who once practiced there have had to move their practices to other locations. As student access to Cooper Field is limited by varsity athletics schedules, club teams and intramural sports are forced to share time. When Cooper Field is unavailable, club teams are confined to Duke Ellington Track and Field or the field at Georgetown Visitation. Kennedy said that this places an undue burden on students looking for a place to exercise, and emphasized the importance of open green space on a residential campus like Georgetown’s.
“If you’re at a residential college, of course you have your academic responsibilities, but then hopefully you have a rich life outside of the classroom, and sometimes that involves open rec, club sports, intramurals, just going outside and playing,” Kennedy said. “If kids are here at a city urban campus, you don’t want them to go through the trouble, the time, the expense of leaving campus to recreate. You want them to basically be able to go out in their own backyard and play.”
In addition to the new field area, the renovations will include an outdoor track and a possible fitness court. Student Jacob Werden (MSB ’21), who attended the open house and frequently exercises at Yates, said that he was looking forward to having an outdoor track available on campus for student use.
“I’m probably most excited about the track,” Werden said. “I love the track that’s in Yates, but it gets very repetitive, and I think it would be nice to have an outdoor track where you kind of get a sweeping view of Georgetown and the surrounding D.C. area.”
The fitness court, which has not yet been confirmed as a concrete part of the plan for Kehoe, would comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and is based on a design from the National Fitness Campaign (NFC). According to the NFC’s website, the court will feature bodyweight circuit exercises, meaning it will not require any loose weights or equipment beyond the seven stationary tools. The court aims to be accessible for users of all abilities and ages, and would be positioned at the north end of Kehoe.
The green area of the field would have space for two fields to hold events at the same time, with an empty area of turf for students to exercise on at the south end of the field. Kennedy said that Yates would program intramural and club sports on the two fields, leaving the empty area for students to use at their leisure.
At this time, Yates director Meghan Dimsa does not expect the construction to impact access to Yates. Administrators have not yet determined if there will be a GoCard swipe system to ensure that Kehoe is only open to Yates members, a fact that concerned Werden.
“My concern with the whole Kehoe facility is that I’d like there to be a mechanism to prevent people that don’t have a Yates membership from being able to use it, just because I don’t want it to be overcrowded,” Werden said. “I believe that Kehoe can offer a way to alleviate crowds at Yates that typically form in the late afternoon.”
Dimsa said that she is excited about the prospect of opening Kehoe back up for student use, and hopes that it will be a space for all members of the Georgetown community.
“We tried to accommodate as many student populations as possible,” Dimsa said. “It’s extremely important to the quality of student life on campus.”