Although the seven-month building process took a little longer than the expected three months, the school was finally able to feature a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday for Bodnar Field and its new pre-lined synthetic turf field and two-lane all-weather jogging track.
The construction, done by the Texas-based Hellas Sports Construction, was completed last month at a cost of $2 million and counting.
The men's rugby team had the first official game on the new state-of-the-art all weather field on March 25, debuting with a 27-13 win over Cal Lutheran, but many people are already enjoying the new field.
"For me the highlight was the first day it was open to the students a week ago," Cal Maritime Academy President Bill Eisenhardt said. "I heard this thunk, thunk, thunk and knew that someone was kicking a soccer ball. I came up the hill and I counted 62 students using the field. There were rugby players, 10 to 12 soccer players and another 35 students playing Frisbee. That's when I looked at our trainer, Jeff Ward, and I knew we had made the right decision by upgrading this field."
Senior Tommy Cropper, a wing and center on the Cal Maritime men's rugby team, said the field has already helped the Keelhaulers.
"Our style of game is a lot faster now, and we're playing the type of game we've wanted to play all year," Cropper said. "We used to call the old field 'The Bog' because it was like aswamp. We'd finish practice or a game and we'd all be covered in mud. It also slowed our game down."
Senior Dane Devogelaence agreed with his teammate, and also said logistics have been a plus. The team was previously practicing at Mare Island's Morton Field, where not everyone on the team was able to make practices.
"I saw (the field) early and it was frustrating not being able to use it because I just knew it was going to be amazing," Devogelaence said. "It's been a bummer we weren't able to use it earlier, but we have it now and we're using it to hopefully get a national championship."
Marv Christopher, Cal Maritime's athletic director for the last eight years, said the biggest challenge in the process was trying to stay on target as the three-month project turned to six and seven months.
"It was difficult for us because Hellas Construction didn't have all its equipment here and with them working long distance it could be a little rough at times," Christopher said. "All-in-all though it was a great relationship. The field's great, it's a great showcase. It's everything we envisioned and more."
Kelly Stephens, a senior basketball player at Cal Maritime, has also enjoyed the field for intramural sports.
"To be honest, the first time I used the field I wasn't sure if we could use it or not," Stephens said, with a laugh. "Intramural sports have really been booming here since the field opened two weeks ago. Whether it's kickball, softball, Frisbee, whatever, everyone has been coming out."
Eisenhardt said he feels great when he constantly sees people after the "1600-hour" use the field. The president said he even saw at least 20 people use the field last week during a torrential downpour.
"I had hoped it had opened earlier, and I really feel bad for the senior soccer players that they weren't able to use it earlier," Eisenhardt said. "That being said, it great to see everyone on the field and it lends some truth to the saying 'If they build it, they will come.' "