Taking the ‘Mud’ out of Mad Bowl
|Madison Bowl has long been associated with athletics. Originally owned by the Young Men’s Christian Association, it contained tennis courts in 1895 and a track with wooden banked corners in 1914. Madison Hall was built in 1905 as a YMCA facility that the University leased beginning in the 1930s; the University purchased the property in 1971. Fayerweather Hall, which had observation spaces overlooking the tennis courts, was built in 1893 as a gymnasium. It was used for that purpose until 1923 when it was supplanted by Memorial Gymnasium. Following extensive renovations, Fayerweather Hall will house the Carl H. and Martha S. Lindner Center for Art History.
By Matt Kelly
Mad Bowl will no longer be Mud Bowl.
Work crews have dug up Madison Bowl, the athletic field behind Madison Hall, between Rugby Road and Madison Lane, to replace utility lines, install more drainage and add a new sod surface.
“We are building a first-class intramural field,” said Lynn K. Rush, project manager for Facilities Management.
The project started as a joint plan between the University and City of Charlottesville to replace utility lines, including storm and sewer drains which handle runoff from Madison Hall and Fayerweather Hall, across Rugby Road. For years, runoff from these drains has collected in Mad Bowl, giving the space its “Mud Bowl” nickname. Once plans were in place to dig up the field, the decision was made to replace the playing surface, said Mark E. Fletcher, director of Intramural-Recreational Sports, which administers the field.
“We saw it as an opportunity to do multiple things,” Fletcher said.
Six inches of new soil will be added, with drainage and irrigation systems for the playing field, which has been used for club sports such as rugby and ultimate Frisbee, as well as student fund-raisers and other social events. It will be topped with a layer of sod seeded with Bermuda grass.
The field installation should be completed by the end of May, Fletcher said, but the field itself will be closed until August, to give the grass a chance to grow and for the roots to take hold.
The field renovation will cost about $1 million for the utility work and playing field restoration, Rush said. Facilities Management’s maintenance reserve fund is picking up a large part of the cost, with Intramural-Recreational Sports contributing some money.
Once completed, the field will still be used seven days a week for club sports, fraternity and sorority functions and special events. The field will be for daylight use only, as there are no extant plans to install lights.
There are tentative plans for more landscaping, bollards on the ends of the field to prevent vehicles from driving on it, and a possible sidewalk on the field side of Madison Lane.
“That’s long range,” Rush said. “We have no funding for it yet.”
Before the project is finished, Fletcher plans to have discussions with the neighbors — Madison Bowl is bordered on two sides by fraternity and sorority houses — about appropriate behavior. He believes that peer pressure will help keep the field in good condition. His message will be simple: “The days of burning couches and 3 a.m. mud football games are gone,” he said. “It’s a nice field, let’s keep it nice.”