Field house next to Reese Stadium nears completion
Workers are busy putting the final touches on a new field house earmarked for Yale’s soccer and lacrosse programs. The 34,800-square-foot facility includes athletic medicine and sports performance space, a team center, locker rooms and offices.
William McCormack, Contributing Photographer
Spectators at Reese Stadium this fall will be pleased to find a new glass and metal structure overlooking the west end of the pitch.
Yale’s soccer and lacrosse players will be equally, if not more, excited to soon call the new 34,800-square-foot field house home. The two-story structure comprises dedicated areas for athletic medicine and sports performance, a screening room for reviewing film from games and practice, a team center, locker rooms and offices for coaches and program staff. A second-floor balcony provides an open-air view of the Reese pitch, offering perhaps the best perspective to watch a penalty shootout unfold or a last-minute goal enter the net.
In the eyes of Yale men’s soccer head coach Kylie Stannard, the facility is a “game changer and will be the best of its kind in the Ivy League and one of the best in the nation.”
“[The field house] will be our home away from main campus that will have everything we need in one place,” Stannard said. “[In comparison to our existing facility], it will have more space for all student-athletes with sports medicine and strength and conditioning areas that will allow for more scheduling flexibility than in the past. It will [also] allow us to compete even more with other elite Division I academic institutions from a facilities standpoint.”
The University first received approval for the project back in August 2019, according to the New Haven Independent. The applications to build a new field house and natural grass field atop the former Yale Armory received unanimous approval from city plan commissioners.
According to Yale News, construction continued through the COVID-19 pandemic. Facilities staff made use of digital images rather than paper drawings and conducted meetings with contractors and architects through remote means.
According to Associate Athletic Director for Strategic Communications Mike Gambardella, the new field house was donor funded and its official name will be released “in the coming months.” Occupancy will begin at the end of May.
Men’s lacrosse captain Brian Tevlin ’22 first heard rumors of the new facility during his sophomore year but paid little attention to the project as he “never believed [he] would still be enrolled at Yale for when it was completed.”
“What excites me most about the new facility is having a unique space that is located right on the edge of our home field, Reese Stadium,” Tevlin said. “Being able to workout, receive treatment from our incredible athletic training staff and practice all within the same facility will only make the experience of being a Yale lacrosse player that much more enjoyable. We believe the new facility will be as nice, if not nicer, than our current facility but we will forever be grateful for all of the memories and traditions that the Smilow Field Center provided our program with.”
Smilow Field Center, previously known as Lapham Field House before its 1993 renovation, was originally constructed in 1923. Located within walking distance of Reese Stadium and Yale Bowl, the soccer and lacrosse programs currently use the facility, in addition to teams such as football, cross country and track and field. The new field house will provide the athletics program with additional state-of-the-art space and de-densify aging facilities.
“We’re outgrowing what we have,” Director of Athletics Vicky Chun said of the then-preliminary approvals for the new field house in a September 2019 interview with the News. “I want us fully accessible to all 35 of our varsity programs. And as years go on, more teams want to take advantage of that. If that’s the need, we’re gonna meet it.”
The new field house has received high praise from the coaches about to inhabit it.
“The new facility will be transformative for our women’s lacrosse program in so many ways,” Yale women’s lacrosse head coach Erica Bamford said. “Through immense generosity, this new field house will attract the best student-athletes to Yale, and our current student-athletes will now have the nation’s premier lacrosse facility to call home.”
Though the final touches have yet to be completed on the new facility, members of the soccer and lacrosse programs are also already looking forward to using the new space next season. On Tuesday, the Ivy League presidents sent a memo to Yale student-athletes announcing their expectation to resume regular competition for all sports in fall 2021.
Skyler Wilson ’24, the only men’s lacrosse player training on campus this spring, first found out about the facility after the cancellation of the 2020 spring season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In his eyes, the new weight room and training room are most exciting, given that they “are both a step up from both Smilow and Payne Whitney.”
For men’s soccer defender Thomas Toney ’23, the new field house “reminds [him] of [his] locker rooms from Atlanta United” — the MLS club’s academy program that Toney played for prior to donning the Blue and White.
“Hopefully it looks as great, if not better on the inside as it does [on the] outside,” Toney said. “[I’m] super excited to move into the building next semester. Shoutout to all the workers and investors for providing a place for both the soccer and lacrosse programs.”
Reese Stadium was completed in 1981.
Update, May 7: This story has been updated with additional sourcing from Gambardella.