DePaul’s Cacciatore Stadium created from soccer field each season

The athletic facilities that are home to DePaul’s soccer and softball programs go through many changes throughout the year, big and small, to allow the different sports to play on the field during their respective seasons.

In the fall, the field surface at Cacciatore Stadium is built for the men’s and women’s soccer programs to play. Following the conclusion of those two seasons, the field undergoes a transformation, using the multi-purpose turf that the University employs to make it playable for the spring softball season. Simply put, the turf gets changed out twice a year, once for softball and once for soccer.

The first process in the upkeep of the softball field is to change what is called the “trays.” Using the FieldTurf system, the trays for the softball field are laid down right after the soccer season ends. The trays sit there over the winter so that when the season starts for softball, all the teams have to do is lay down the dirt that makes up the infield. The green turf that still has the permanent soccer lines on it make up the outfield. In cases like this year, sometimes excess snow will have to be plowed off the field before they lay down the dirt.

Another big part of the transformation is putting up the fences. The stadium itself provides a natural boundary to enclose the playing field so the only fences that need to go up are in the outfield. They are put up once all the snow has been removed and remain up all season long before being taken down in the transformation back to a soccer field.

From game to game, there is a process of making sure the field is ready to play the next time around. Right after games, the facilities crew will take a shovel and will dig up the chalk that makes up the foul lines and the pitchers circle. According to head softball coach Eugene Lenti, this is because the dirt is made up of a special material that makes it fairly waterproof. The chalk does not mix well with the dirt and would hamper its ability to be waterproof, so they remove the lines after each game or after the final game of a double header. Then, before each game, the lines have to be redone so that the foul lines and pitcher’s circle are clear.

The facilities crew takes such special care of the lines because the waterproof surface of the dirt is such an asset to DePaul’s playing field.

“(The field) is unbelievable,” Lenti said. “We’ve never had a rainout here. We’ve only had games called, not because of the field but because of the fact that the pitchers couldn’t hold onto the ball.”

This FieldTurf system has been in place since 2005, which was the first part of rebuilding phase that made Cacciatore Stadium and Wish Field into the playing surfaces they are today. The turf is starting to be worn down, however, but is scheduled to be redone following the conclusion of the 2014 softball season and the 2014 summer softball youth camps. The field surface will be laid down in preparation for the 2014 soccer season. The process of turning it into a softball field will then start all over again after that season.