June 30, 2023 By Michael Dorgan
A popular sports field near the Long Island City waterfront reopened on Monday, June 26 after getting a flashy $1.5 million makeover.
A new high-quality synthetic turf surface and new running track have been installed at the Gantry Plaza State Park Sports Field, located between Center Boulevard and 5th Street. The repair work, which started in February, saw the old, worn-out dark green surface ripped up and replaced by a new forest-colored turf. The new surface is made from polyethylene fiber and is marked with soccer and softball markings, which include a red-shaded infield area.
A new blue-colored running track has been put down around the turf field replacing the old beaten-up track while the field’s drainage has been upgraded too, according to the State Parks Dept., which oversees the sports field.
Repairs have also been made to the field’s perimeter wall and to damaged fencing. New planting has gone down along the side of the main entrance while new native vines have gone up around the field.
The surface at the athletic field was coming to the end of its useful life and needed to be replaced, the State Parks Dept. told the LIC Post in December. The previous surface had been in place for around a decade while the old running track that had surrounded the turf field was in poor condition and torn in some areas.
The project was completed on time and within budget, according to Leslie Wright, regional director of the State Parks Dept.
“The State Parks Dept. is delighted to open Gantry Plaza’s fully renovated sports field for immediate community use,” Wright said. “Let the games begin!”
The field is available to all residents for open play through July 8, Wright said. Beginning July 9, permits will be assigned through an accelerated lottery process, she said.
Gantry Plaza State Park Sports Field is an important amenity to local residents since it is the only athletic field in the Hunters Point area south of 45th Road. The nearest field is Murray Park, located between 11th Street and 21st Street, which typically serves the Court Square section of the neighborhood.
The new field has already drawn plenty of residents this week.
Two teens who were playing soccer on the field Tuesday said they were very happy with the changes.
“It’s great. It’s so much better now,” said Lorenzo. “I like how there are lines now.”
“The turf is much better, it’s softer,” said Eduardo. “And I like the new goals, too. The old ones were too small.”
The new upgrades brought markings for the first time to the field, which is about 220 feet long and 220 feet wide.
Two soccer pitches have been lined out in an east-west direction and take up most of the field. Previously, soccer players lined the field using temporary disc cones or traffic cones and would then use the four mobile soccer goals inside the field to shoot into.
Four new full-sized goals have replaced the older, smaller ones. The new goals can also be moved around the field.
There is a single softball field marked out at the northwestern corner of the field at Center Boulevard and New Way Road/46th Road.
The softball markings run over the northernmost soccer pitch markings, while the southernmost soccer pitch is untouched by the softball markings.
The State Parks Dept., Wright said in December, decided to put down soccer and softball markings since they are the two most popular sports currently being played on the field. Students at PS/IS 78Q, which is located next to the sports field, also use the space.
“Soccer and baseball are the two most overwhelmingly popular uses for the sports field,” Wright said in December.
Meanwhile, a new blue-colored surface consisting of two lanes has replaced the narrow running track around the perimeter of the field.
The doors on the two small buildings at the sports field have also been replaced too since they were damaged. The buildings contain public toilets and are used for storage purposes by the State Parks Dept.
The park is open every day from 8 a.m. to sunset.