Three years ago, planners at Georgeton University faced a troublesome dilemma.
The university needed additional sports facilities badly, but it had run out of places to put them.
All available spaces on the campus were occupied, and it was not possible for the campus to expand into the surrounding neighborhoods.
So the university decided to dig up its football field, build a mammoth sports and recreation complex underneath it and then put the football field and a 400-meter track back on top.
This week, Georgeton officially opened its $7.5 million Yates Field House, a 142,000-square-foot, four-level sports and recreation facility and one of the few in the nation to have a football field for a roof.
Named for the Rev. Gerard F. Yates, a Jesuit teacher and counselor at Georgeton for 40 years, the field house contains four squash counts, four raquetball or handball courts, a 200-meter indoor jogging track and 12 multipurpose courts that can be used for basketball, tennis, volleyball or badminton.
There is also a 25-meter, eight-lane indoor swimming pool with a separate diving pool, an outdoor deck for sunbathing, exercise machines, 2,000 lockers, saunas, a lounge and a halfacre dance area.
The field house is intended mainly for intramural, not varsity, sports. It is open from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week. Beginning August 27, the opening hour will be extended to 7 a.m. and closing to 1 a.m. Monday through Friday.
Membership will be automatic for all Georgetown undergraduates and graduate students and students in the law, medical and dental schools. Georgetown faculty and staff will pay $120 for membership. Alumni can join at fees beginning at $780, and a limited number of member-ships are open to the general public for $320, or $400 for a family membership.
Primarily an underground structure, the field house was build by excavating 15 feet down on Kehoe Field. With year-round soil temperature in the 60s, the design is expected to save on heating costs during the winter months.
Kehoe Field, Georgetown's football field, is being regraded and resurfaced in AstroTurf. The SstroTurf is expected to be installed by autumn. A 400-meter, all-weather track will ring the football field. CAPTION: Picture 1, Yates Field House, Georgetown University's new underground sports complex and recreation center, opened for a preview this week. By Craig Herndon -- The Washington Post; picture 2, The Rev. Gerald Yates, for whom the complex is named, addressed the audience at ribon-cutting ceremonies. By James Parcelll -- The Washington Post