Thursday, September 17, 2009

MSF 5.0

While Georgetown is justly proud of its latest campus landmark, the Hariri Building, no one can say the same for the project down the hill.

September 17 marks the four year anniversary of the first game as what is still called by its temporary name, Multi-Sport Facility Field. The Hoyas did not fare well in that game, a 34-3 loss to Brown, and are suffering through its worst home streak (1-8 since 2007) in school history. But there appears to be better news ahead.

The MSF is a work in progress, to say the least. There have been at least five designs published to the public, and I would suspect there are a few more in a file cabinet at McDonough Gym. Among the designs, this one always stood out as a great look for Georgetown football. Imagine if the Lafayette game was played in a place like this:

Of course, the price got in the way, as it has with every design in the last ten years. The MSF stalled in the summer of 2005, with the last substantive construction taking palce in the weekend of that game with Brown in 2004. And here's what was left, or better said, left behind:

With the possible exception of the 20 yards of seats at the Butler Bowl, it's the smallest "facility" in Division I football, and an embarassment of sorts when Georgetown hosts a team like Yale. We all know Georgetown can do better. It may be about to to do just that.

In a recent letter to readers to, interim athletic director Dan Porterfield wrote:

"It is crucial that we complete the Multi-Sport Field, which hosts not only our football and lacrosse games, but also intramurals, club sports, and events such as the annual all-night Relay for Life, a major fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. The original design, which includes precast cement stands and a rebuilt foundation, has been an expensive proposition. Though improvements have been made to the field in the last few years, the project remains unfinished and still requires significant investment to complete.

"For that reason, I have asked colleagues in Athletics and the University to see if we can develop a cost-effective approach to completing the field. Our goals will stay the same: To improve our teams' game-day experience, to make the venue more fan-friendly, and to construct an aesthetically pleasing facility. As we develop new options for this important project in the coming months, we look forward to sharing its details with our friends and donors."

Readers to this column understand that Georgetown Football has a lot of needs, but any progress that can be made on resolving the MSF issue would be invaluable towards building the kind of program, not just team, that can make a consistent winner. Georgetown would not long tolerate having mobile housing classrooms or a tent city for student housing, but athletic facilities have been pushed to the side for years. A permanent facility for football and other teams would be a great step forward.

The key word there is "permanent". Much of Georgetown's facilities are, by default, temporary structures. The MSF has no permanent seats, nor does Kehoe Field or North Kehoe Field--fans see it, recruits see it, and opponents see it. It's not enough to put in more temporary seats or nail in what is there and call it "completed". The new MSF needs permanence in its design, in its construction, and in its presentation to the Georgetown community--obviously, a naming gift would be the first step. What else does it need?

1. More seating. If you take a look at the overhead shot, only about 40 yards of play are matched with seating, leaving vast spaces on the north side of the field without any spectators whatsoever. If Georgetown is going to get to a 5,000 seat capacity (and more is better than less), seats must be constructed from goal line to goal line, and even include some standing room in the north end zone as crowds allow. This would not only allow for better attendance but introduce a home field advantage that Georgetown has long lacked:

2. A video board. A new home needs a new scoreboard, preferably one built within the last 15 years. The current scoreboard is a legacy of the Harbin Field soccer days and has long since passed its useful life. This kind of hardware costs money, but a video board would not only be well received at football games, but serve as a resource for a number of University events where a large-screened prsentation would be useful, from student gatherings to commencement events. Well, how about it?

A smaller size would work, too...

3. Green space. What makes the MSF even more spartan is its barren surroundings. Somewhere in the budget needs to be trees and landscaping to give the new field a campus-like appearance and not part of the ever-increasing concrete jungle that Georgetown has become.

4. History. A new home should tell the great story of Georgetown football, including honoring the alumni who played the game. Whether on plaques, banners, or a ring of honor, names like Costello, Gilroy, Hagerty, Blozis, Lio and Ricca need to be displayed, as well as modern names like Dwyer, Morris,Corcoran, and Murphy,among others.

5. A flagpole. In the fall of 2001, the late Michael Dunne (C'56) introduced a resolution that Hoyas Unlimited construct a flagpole at the new facility in honor of Georgetown alumni who died at the World Trade Center collapse, including Joe Eacobacci. The funds were authorized but, owing to the MSF's incomplete timeline, a new flagpole was never installed at the site, with the older Harbin Field pole still ins service. When the Hoyas get a new home, honoring the 9/11 dead should be included in the plans, bearing in mind the quote, "No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he gave.”

Like its temporary name, the Multi Sport Field is a stepping stone. Here's to a brighter future on the back yard of the campus.