The South Orange and Maplewood community will celebrate the grand reopening of the Lynn V. Profeta Field at the Underhill Sports Complex in Maplewood on Saturday, April 22 from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. — the culmination of advocacy from parents and students to include the improvements in the school district’s generational $160M Long Range Facilities Plan.
Community members will get to see the new turn field in action with a Columbia High School Boys Varsity Lacrosse home game. The CHS Freshman Boys Baseball team will also be playing nearby in the complex.
Near lacrosse halftime (approximately 10:40 a.m.), the new field will be dedicated, featuring remarks by former Maplewood Mayor and benefactor Fred Profeta (the field is named for his mother), CHS Principal Frank Sanchez and CHS Athletic Director Rich Porfido. South Orange Village President Sheena Collum and current Maplewood Mayor Dean Dafis will attend, along with student athlete captains. The CHS group Noteworthy Acapella will open the day with a performance.
The field improvements were approved in 2019 along with the full scope of the Long Range Facilities Plan, which includes additions and/or upgrades to every school building in the district. Scott Downie of the Spiezle Architectural Group presented field reconstruction plans during a Long Range Facilities Plan progress report to the Board of Education in November 2019.
Downie said the new home-side bleachers at Underhill would have a seating capacity of 1,515 and include a new press box. On the visitor’s side, bleachers will have a seating capacity of 400. Both bleachers are fully accessible. The field is striped for football, lacrosse, soccer and field hockey and the facility will also hold track and field events.
Downie reported that the new turf for Profeta Field would be made of a “safe” material called CoolPlay, and that the fill under the turf is made in part from extruded rubber designed to keep the field from getting too hot for the athletes. “The benefits are multifold,” said Downie in 2021. “First of all, it’s a benefit to the athletes using the field because the field is not as hot. Turf fields have been known to heat up a little bit more than grass fields. Secondly, being that the temperatures will be lowered, it also helps reduce heat island concerns and so forth.”
The Underhill Sports Complex entrance is located at 35 Burr Road in Maplewood, NJ.