With an official ceremony Saturday. April 29, 2006, including a ribbon-cutting by head men's lacrosse coach John Raba, Wesleyan opened its new artificial turf field. Then on Saturday, October 21, 2006 during Wesleyan's Homecoming/Family Weekend festivities, the field received its name - Smith Field, in honor of major benefactor Warren "Renney" Smith '78 and his wife, Tiina. Located in the Long Lane property acquired by Wesleyan from the State of Connecticut several years earlier, the turf field had been under construction since the fall of 2005, and made its varsity debut when the field hockey team hosted Babson College Thursday, Sept. 14, 2006. The turf field is lined for lacrosse, field hockey and soccer and is used mainly for women's lacrosse during the spring and field hockey during the fall. Men's lacrosse also plays a number of its early-season games on the turf and both soccer teams have occasion to play on the turf during inclement weather situations. According to Director of Athletics John Biddiscombe, there had been an increasing trend toward the use of synthetic turf fields among schools in northern climates over the last decade. Wesleyan had traveled to Springfield College, Trinity College, Connecticut College and West Haven High School before the completion of Smith Field for "home" games during the spring and fall due to unplayable conditions on Wesleyan's grass fields. Currently all NESCAC colleges have at least one turf field and some are outfitted with multiple synthetic playing fields. "I think [the new synthetic turf field] will be a big help because we will finally have Wesleyan turf as our turf field instead of playing at Trinity," said Fiona Lundy '08, who was a member of the women's lacrosse team. "It will be great to play here and get more fans out." The synthetic turf field allows Wesleyan's varsity teams to practice and play when the grass fields are unplayable. Although it will be geared toward field hockey and lacrosse teams, numerous other varsity and recreational sport teams will have opportunity to use the new field. Planning for the new field began around 2004. The project was completely funded by gifts from alumni, parents and friends of Wesleyan athletics. Over $1 million had been raised at the time of completion with another $300,000 later raised to support lights, bleachers, a scoreboard and protective netting. While Coach Raba, representing the athletic department, got to do the honors with the scissors April 29, individuals representing the administration, parents, alumni and student-athletes all gathered for the official ceremony, which featured short speeches from Biddiscombe ; Alumni Director John Driscoll ; Preston Smith '64, father of men's lacrosse player Matt Smith '06, who helped spearhead the project with other parents and alumni ; and Raba. A tasty barbeque followed the speeches. The naming ceremony preceded Wesleyan's field hockey game vs. Amherst and was attended by Renny and Tiina Smith and their three children.
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