The U of T's back campus has been described as both a significant mid-city green space and alternatively as a muddy obstacle course, and while advocates of a more natural outdoors wished to see it preserved in its mow-able state, to make it ready as a Pan Am Games field hockey venue, it is instead being converted to artificial turf. After the 2015 Games, the improved playing surface will spare athletes from unpleasant and unplayable conditions during the rainy seasons of spring and fall.

The new Back Campus Field, image by Jack Landau

The former grass field is long gone now, and the substrate for the artificial surface is in. New floodlights have been installed to light the field at night, and a shock absorbing material is being laid out in advance of the artificial turf. Much of it now lies rolled up and wrapped in white tarps awaiting installation.

The new Back Campus Field, image by Jack Landau

In the image above, new paved pathways surrounding the field are visible, as well as an iron fencing similar to that seen throughout the U of T St George campus. Work on the modernized field is expected to conclude in this summer, well ahead of the start of the 2015 games.

The new Back Campus Field, image by Jack Landau

Modernizing the field has not been a simple task, and in the past year the field had to be regraded and smoothed to remedy years of wear, preparing it for the new below grade infrastructure. The images below show the site as it evolved over the last year.

August 31, 2013:

The site as it appeared on August 31, 2013, image by androiduk

September 16, 2013:

The site as it appeared on September 16, 2013, image by androiduk

December 5, 2013:

The site as it appeared on December 5, 2013, image by androiduk

April 19, 2014:

The site as it appeared on April 19, 2014, image by androiduk

We will keep an eye on the installation of the artificial turf playing surface, and return for another update once the field is closer to completion. In the meantime, you can keep an eye on the project by following the associated Forum thread.