Photo Gallery | Williams College's Weston Field

WILLIAMSTOWN -- The playing field is about to change for Williams College athletics.

A more than $22 million project is transforming Williams' Weston Field into a modern and more user-friendly athletic complex that will house the football, lacrosse, track, and field hockey teams.

The work includes two new fields with artificial turf, grandstands, a track around one of the fields, and a building dedicated to team support.

The team support facility finally brings locker rooms, equipment storage, team meeting spaces and sports training capabilities field-side.

Lisa Melendy, director of athletics at Williams, said the new facility will make it so that players won't have to use lockers rooms at the field house or gym. Until now, players suited up for their games, walked across campus, and made their ways through the spectators and tailgating areas to reach the field.

"We really didn't have a support facility for student athletes -- we haven't had the space for any of those things," Melendy said. "So we're very excited."

The new grandstand features concession areas, rest rooms, and a press box.

At 1,400 seats, the new grandstand seats about 1,000 people fewer than the old bleachers. However, the college owns portable bleacher units that can provide seats for more than an additional 1,000 spectators. The new complex has concrete pads around the fields specifically designed for the portable bleachers.

Melendy said that for most events, the 1,400 seats are more than enough. For special events, between the portable bleachers and the area provided for standing spectators, plenty of room will exist for all.

Discussions about the new complex began in 2003 and a committee was formed in 2006. Construction was set to begin in 2008, but the college suspended all capital projects while the Great Recession unfolded.

During the delay, college officials redesigned the project and settling on a design by The Whiting-Turner Contracting Co., Melendy said.

About one third of the funding came from the college, with the other two-thirds was funded by private donors, she added.

The old facilities had been installed in the late 1980s, Melendy said. Some safety concerns for athletes and spectators also had to be addressed.

"It was a little dated," she said. "So we're excited to move things up in a manner that seems more appropriate for this campus."

So far, the work is on schedule with its completion and opening scheduled for Aug. 29, said project manager Jason Moran.

The teams start practicing about a week beforehand, so the timing is perfect, Melendy said.

A dedication is scheduled for Oct. 11.

The new Weston Field will include Farley Lamb Field, where football and lacrosse teams will play. It is named for retiring football coach Dick Farley and former lacrosse coach Renvi Lamb.

The field hockey team will play on Sarah Williamson Field, named for an alumnus and donor. Around the field hockey pitch will be the Lee Track, named for a family of alumni and donors.

To reach Scott Stafford:
sstafford@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 663-3741, ext. 227.
On Twitter: @BESStafford.