A photo of a computer rendering of the renovated Near East Fields on campus at UW-Madison. Shown is the entrance, with a gated fence and entrance with people walking past.



The Near East Fields project will include the conversion of an existing four-acre (approximately 175,230-square foot (SF)) natural grass field into a large artificial turf field complex for sports and recreation use. Proposed fields include four intramural level soccer fields and one championship soccer/rugby field.

The project also includes updating lighting, fencing, installation of score boards, a public announcement (PA) system, a small building for storage and restrooms, landscaping, bicycle and moped parking, entries for maintenance and emergency medical service access, and a regional underground storm water management system (i.e., detention chamber) to collect sediment from a 32-acre watershed on campus.

Construction required for the project includes excavation and rebuilding of the field area, storm water connections to existing storm water pipes, and electric, heat, water and sewer connections to the new support buildings along the eastern boundary. Photovoltaic solar may also be incorporated into the project to generate electricity for the facility.


A rendering of the Near East Field renovation. Gated fence with two brick pillars displayed. The UW-Wisconsin W is on both brick pillars.

The project budget is $10,000,000 and is funded by gifts and grants received by the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

  • Architect/Engineer Selection: August 2022
  • Design Concept Report Submittal: November 2022
  • Design Report Submittal: January 2023
  • Board of Regents Authority to Construct: March 2023
  • Bid Date: July 2023
  • Start Construction: May 2024
  • Substantial Completion: early 2025
  • Occupancy: Spring 2025

This is the final project of the Master Plan.


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Why synthetic turf and not natural grass?

With synthetic turf fields, we are able to meet the needs of our students in providing recreational and sport club opportunities on a consistent and reliable basis. Over the past several years, at least 40% of Rec Well-scheduled outdoor events and programs have been canceled due to wet and unplayable natural grass field conditions. We have seen a significant increase in interest from our students and sport clubs to participate in outdoor recreational opportunities.

Additionally, without having enough lighted field space on campus, it was impossible to spread out activities to avoid worn-out areas on the natural grass. We have seen a significant growth in interest from our students to participate in outdoor recreational opportunities and sport clubs to stay active and physically fit.

Installing synthetic turf was the only viable option to keep up with demand and to be able to schedule multiple uses of the fields on a regular basis. The synthetic turf field will be able to drain water quickly and safely without damaging the surface, and will extend playable seasons without the need to irrigate or use chemicals or fertilizers.

Is synthetic turf safe to play on?

Yes. In many ways, synthetic turf is safer than natural grass because of the uniform playing surface, instant water drainage, and consistent footing.

Which Intramural Sports are programmed on the fields?

Stay tuned for more information on what Intramural Sports will be offered at the Near East Fields.

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Is there bicycle or moped parking near the field?

Yes. Since bicycles are not allowed on the synthetic turf field, there are newly installed bicycle racks around the perimeter of the field, near access gates. Moped parking can also be found near the main entrance to the facility.

Where is the main entry to the facility?

The main entry to the facility will be on Elm Drive.

Why fence the fields?

Fencing is required for several reasons. First, we have had consistent problems on the existing fields losing soccer balls, baseballs, softballs, footballs, frisbees, etc. into the bioswales planted around the south and east sides of the fields. Fencing will keep the majority of the balls on the field and out of the stormwater management system and bioswales. Second, the fencing allows us to control access to the fields during special events and tournaments. In some cases, these may be ticketed events. The majority of the time, the fields will be open for daytime pick-up game activities by students, UW-Madison affiliates, and other community members just as they historically have been.