Committed to improving facilities for its Division I athletic programs, and with a goal of freeing up space in the center of campus for future development, Loyola University Maryland engaged Sasaki to develop the "Fields of Dreams" Master Plan. The plan provided a solution that would creatively utilize a nearby landfill site for a new stadium, practice fields, and a 400-meter track while allowing options for additional expansion. The cornerstone of the plan is the stadium with a 6,000-seat grandstand, synthetic turf fields, and views of the Baltimore skyline. The stadium also includes professional-style locker rooms, a center for weights and fitness, offices, and sport medicine areas. Planning and construction was a decade-long process including seven years of site remediation to transform the contaminated landfill into a stadium suitable to host regional and national NCAA events. Completed in spring 2010, the Ridley Athletic Complex at Loyola University Maryland opened with much fanfare for a men's lacrosse game against rival Duke University.
Central to the design is the spectator experience. The complex features state-of-the-art media and broadcast suites and carefully considered entry sequences for all stakeholders. The grandstands are split in half by an open concourse that overlooks the fields. The intimate relationship between field and concourse provides the spectator a continuous connection to the game, while having the ability to casually interact with other spectators and allowing fans to access the zone of concessions and restrooms without missing the action on the field. A bridge behind the concession zone provides access to the press box tower and serves as pre- and post-event amenity space. Punched windows texture the composition on the side away from the field, while larger glazed openings bring daylight into the double height volumes along the interior corridor.
The stadium seating faces east towards Loyola's core campus. The west façade consists of two masses that contain the primary lobby and reception area to the south and a stair tower to the north. These two masses are skewed and torqued—similar to flexing muscles—and oriented to the campus. The east face of the building is anchored by the grandstands and is capped by suites, a function room, broadcast booths, and a terrace that overlook the field.
Sasaki's landscape architects and civil engineers worked closely with the college, the geotechnical and environmental engineer, and the construction manager to re-engineer the earth and its surface into a clean and solid 50-acre plateau. This unique setting required continuous quality control and collaboration with many specialty consultants, government agencies, and regulatory bodies. Reclamation of the landfill included the preservation of high quality stands of mature tree species, reforestation and re-establishment of currently degraded native habitats, management of site storm water, collection and venting of methane gases, and the proper capping of the landfill areas.