Occidental Soccer Field Proved a Pain to Drain

The engineers who designed Occidental’s new soccer facility took a novel approach in planning the irrigation system.

And it’s a safe bet they won’t try anything similar again soon.

Most fields are built up approximately 2% in the middle, allowing water to drain off toward the sidelines. At Occidental, they decided to slant the entire field at a 2% grade, with the water runoff all in the same direction.

It didn’t work.


Upon completion, the field resembled a short ski run.

“Someone could crouch down at the high end of the field and you couldn’t see them from the low end,” said Hal White, Occidental’s grounds supervisor.

Obviously, a correction had to be made. So the field was dropped a notch at one end and raised at the other.

Problem solved?


Not quite. The irrigation system didn’t fit.

It turns out that Occidental needed more of a mountain than a molehill.

The field, built on a hill overlooking the baseball diamond, was 10 feet shy of regulation width. Worse, there was no room to extend its boundaries.

Finally, the school had to shell out $85,000 for the construction of a retaining wall down one side of the hill. Dirt was hauled in to fill in the gap between the wall and the hill.


“It’s not as good as it could be, but it’s not bad,” White said of the finished product.

More than anything, it provided a rather expensive lesson in landscaping.