Berrien Springs Public Schools Sylvester Stadium Outdoor Complex

Berrien Springs Public Schools (BSPS), in Berrien Springs, Michigan, had an outdated football facility for their team, the Shamrocks.  The field has been in the same location since 1938 and the Sylvester Stadium facilities were last renovated 20 years ago.  Born of a desire to provide better facilities for not only the football team, but all their student athletes, BSPS embarked on a mission to replace the old stadium with a new building that would serve the next generation while being mindful of the long athletic history at BSPS.

Not only are there demands on the athletics department, but BSPS has a vision for expansion and improvement of other facilities on campus to provide an environment where all students can gain the knowledge, skills, and characteristics needed to be successful.  That means that space is at a premium and master planning was key to decision making.

The board determined to keep the field in the same location it has been at for nearly 80 years and Wightman was a part of the design decisions that allowed the landmark “Shamrock tree” to be spared construction damage and continue as a touchstone for alumni and the broader community.

The field was sized to allow the new facility to host not only football, but also soccer and track events.  The area immediately around the field was reserved for other field events such as shot put, discus, high jump, and long jump.  A new team building is under construction to support all athletes.  Consolidation of the events in one place allowed other parts of campus to be made available for expansion of facilities for the arts.

With the more condensed activity taking place on the new Sylvester Field, a time of careful study and review was completed with the Wightman engineer, the project architect, turf consultants, and district stakeholders to consider options for the field surface.  Ultimately, the district chose to install a new artificial turf field to ensure that the facility could host the number of events demanded of the new centralized location while maintaining a playable surface.

Wightman engineering engaged the Village public works staff as part of the project planning to establish requirements for stormwater management and available capacities of public water and sewer.  The often overlooked stormwater requirements were identified early in the project so adequate space was reserved for the required detention pond.

Key factors that needed to be addressed early in the project for success included:

  • Review of master plan to ensure this project fit with the long term goals of the district.
  • Identification of what sports/events needed to be hosted in this area.
  • Open conversations of facility use to determine best athletic surfaces.
  • Detailed conversations with the stakeholders who use the facility on a regular basis.
  • Detailed conversations with maintenance staff to reduce future headaches.
  • Coordination with Village staff so the project is complimentary to the entire community.

Construction is underway on the new Sylvester Stadium and the school looks to open the facility for the 2020-2021 school year. Go, 'Rocks!