New outdoor rec complex opens to students

By Jacob Onak

Along with residence hall renovations and the Chessick Center, students have something to look forward to this year: a brand new outdoor recreation sports complex.

Located on the north side of the Convocation Center, the outdoor recreation sports complex features two softball fields, five soccer fields, eight flag football fields, five lacrosse fields, eight ultimate Frisbee fields — and even a few quidditch fields for the Quidditch Club.

“The idea was just to offer better, improved, vastly improved from what we’ve had outdoor space for the students at NIU,” said Dave Lochbaum, associate director of facility operations. “Whether it’s intramural sports or sports clubs or just a general [student].”

Just like at the Recreation Center, students will need their OneCard to use the outdoor facilities. Students may rent equipment from the new building at the entrance of the site. The building will also have light concessions, indoor bathrooms, storage for clubs and intramural sports, drinking fountains and a conference and meeting room.

For students who just want to enjoy the nice weather, there are pavilions and benches, as well as bleachers for fans to watch all the action.

The outdoor recreation sports complex officially opens to students today, Lochbaum said, and though it’s not getting cold out yet, he has a few ideas to help students enjoy the winter.

“Something I’m really excited to see about, when it gets colder, I’m not rushing for the cold yet, but we did purchase a portable ice rink that we will be putting down in the middle between the two canopy areas,” Lochbaum said. “Not really big, but again it’s something different that we are hoping the students really enjoy.”

Eric Weldy, vice president of student affairs and enrollment management, said the facility will also be used to help bring the NIU community and the DeKalb and Sycamore communities closer


“That’s something that is on the table,” Weldy said. “Whenever you have a facility like this, and we are part of the community, first we are looking forward to meet the needs of our students, but also we know there are members within the community that would seek to take advantage of it and those are things we will end up looking at. It is truly good to collaborate with the city every opportunity that we get.”

NIU President Doug Baker said this new facility will teach the students some things they don’t learn in the classroom.

“These are state of the art rec facilities and something that our students really wanted and needed,” Baker said. “Part of the educational environment happens in the classroom, but an awful lot of it also happens out of the classroom, and learning about interacting with others and team skills, and these kind of recreation facilities are really important for that. It builds community and helps the students really grow as individuals.”

Though the hours are not finalized, the new facilities will also be open on the weekends for the students to enjoy.