RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas –
It won't be "The House That Ruth Built," but Yankee Field on the east side of Randolph is reaching the end of an upgrade that will make it a regulation-size softball facility.
Over on the south side of the base, across from the Rambler Fitness Center, a project featuring an International Association of Athletics Federations-approved synthetic track is also nearly finished.
Both facilities, scheduled for completion next month by contractor Amstar Inc. of San Antonio, will offer significant advantages to Randolph's recreation program, said Marlin Richardson, Rambler Fitness Center director.
"What the softball field means to Randolph is that we can finally offer quality softball tournaments with the availability of a legal-size field," he said. "We can now invite teams from off base to visit and even try to get one of the Air Force training camps here."
Mr. Richardson said the new quarter-mile track, a first for the base, will serve multiple purposes.
"There'll be plenty of grassy area within the track, so we can now have a place to finally call our own when it comes to a flag football and soccer playing field," he said.
Peggy Hill, 902nd Civil Engineer Squadron project manager, said the softball field is finished except for the installation of existing lights on new aluminum standards that are height-restricted because of airspace requirements.
The softball field also features a rebuilt infield, new grass - a blend of Bermuda and rye that is already growing - and new fencing that encircles the facility, she said. It will retain its backstop and seating.
"The most important thing is that it's a regulation-size facility," Ms. Hill said, referring to its compliance with Department of Defense Unified Facilities Criteria.
Mr. Richardson said the rebuilt infield represents a significant improvement.
"Now all the bases are straight and at the correct lengths," he said. "Over the years the bases tend to move slightly underground."
The renovated facility addresses a problem that affects the base's other softball field, Rambler Field, which is across from the Health and Wellness Center.
"A major complaint about using Rambler Field was that at a certain time of the day, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., the sun was directly in the eyes of the batter," he said. "Even the umpires had a hard time calling balls and strikes because of the glare. This is not a problem on the new Yankee Field."
Home plate at Yankee Field is situated in the southwest corner of the facility, facing the northeast.
Ms. Hill said the new four-lane track will feature a low-impact surface called Alsatan SW.
"The track will have a 35 to 50 percent force reduction on the knees," she said. "Runners will be thankful for that."
The track will offer safety and convenience for Airmen taking the physical training test, Mr. Richardson said.
"The community now has a safe place to conduct the run portion of the PT test," he said.
Mr. Richardson said he does not foresee the track being used for organized distance-running events; the track will be used primarily for PT testing and interval-type training to prepare for the run portion of the test.
"At this time there will be no scheduling for use of the track - only the fact that PT testing will take priority on use of the track," he said.