Rolf Mellby Field will feature new turf next fall, thanks to Oles

Members of the St. Olaf women’s soccer team celebrate a goal. A new advanced artificial turf system at Mellby Field will provide Oles a consistent high-performance athletic surface that reinforces their safety and increases the field’s usability.

This spring, St. Olaf College will install synthetic turf at Rolf Mellby Field. Renovation will start in April – the new field will be ready by fall 2018.

The $1.25 million project is made possible by a lead anonymous gift from an alumni family, supported by additional gifts from Ole families.

“We are very grateful for the investment these alumni are making to enhance the student experience,” says St. Olaf College Athletic Director Ryan Bowles. “These improvements will help us match the commitment Oles are making to excel in whatever they do.”

Installing an advanced artificial turf system at Mellby will provide Oles a consistent high-performance athletic surface that reinforces their safety and increases the field’s usability. The project will remove the current bleachers and add a viewing plateau cut into the bowl at mid-field. Additionally, team benches will face east, helping student athletes and coaches avoid glare during play.

While St. Olaf’s soccer teams will have priority access, other varsity, club, and intramural sports will be able to use the new turf. The field design provides St. Olaf the option to add an inflatable dome over the field at a future date to extend use through winter.

“We are very grateful for the investment these alumni are making to enhance the student experience. These improvements will help us match the commitment Oles are making to excel in whatever they do.”

The project is among several enhancements recently funded by donor contributions — on Friday, the college announced construction of new facilities for its nursing program. St. Olaf has also begun building an ice arena that will include new varsity locker rooms for its baseball, soccer, softball, and volleyball teams.

Donors are making these gifts as part of St. Olaf’s $200 million For the Hill and Beyond comprehensive campaign — Oles and friends have given $173 million or 87 percent toward this goal as of January 31 to advance high-impact academics, enhance affordability, and strengthen St. Olaf’s residential learning community while sustaining our mission.

Ole women first organized a soccer club team 40 years ago next fall — to celebrate the anniversary, the first team to play on the new pitch will be the varsity women. The women’s home opener is currently scheduled for August 31.