For the first time in its 170-year history, the University of Notre Dame’s Band of the Fighting Irish will finally have a permanent practice field to call home. The Ricci Family Fields will be completed by August 2017, thanks to a $5 million gift to the University of Notre Dame.
“We’ve been moved around quite a bit—originally before my time it was a grass field, but our weather is pretty challenging, so we moved to a marked parking lot,” says Dr. Ken Dye, director of bands. “But then they kept building and then moving us around, and then finally there was so much building going on that right now we’re using the stadium. Which is pretty awesome, but it’s just temporary.”
The new complex will include three synthetic turf fields with full lighting and a band director tower. A support building will house restrooms, locker rooms, and band storage for large instruments and equipment.
“Having a place to go that you know is there year to year and day to day really improves the stability of the band,” Dye says.
When not in use by the band, the facility will host recreational sports teams year-round. Underneath will be a geothermal well field that helps provide the entire campus with cooling and heating while greatly reducing the carbon footprint. Additionally it will be used by visiting bands. “The more that bands can identify dual-purpose things that can be used for more than just marching season, the better chance they have of putting together a project with their university,” Dye says.