New Turf Field and Other Upgrades at Ellis Oval

Improvements are a boost for Tufts football and other teams and the entire community
A closeup view of the football field endzone, with Jumbos written on it. The new turf field and other upgrades at Ellis Oval are a boost for Tufts football and other teams and the entire community.
“Whether it’s a night football game, a movie night, or some other fun event, Ellis Oval now can serve as a wonderful venue for so many more student life and community activities,” said John Morris. Photo: Alonso Nichols
September 23, 2021

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Tufts’ historic Ellis Oval field received an upgrade over the summer and will have its grand opening September 25 when the Jumbo football team hosts Williams College.

This first phase of a plan to renovate the facility features the installation of a new synthetic turf. The surface—AstroTurf’s RootZone 3D Series—is the latest technology, offering exceptional durability, player protection, and aesthetics. It’s the same turf carpet used at Boston College’s Alumni Stadium and other Division I facilities.

The full scope of the $2.7 million renovation will also include lights, a video board, and new runways for track and field’s pole vault and javelin teams to improve their training and competition experience. The project was funded entirely by a group of generous donors, including alumni, parents, and friends of the university.

“I think the new field is a great statement about the commitment to football here at Tufts,” head coach Jay Civetti said. “It had been identified as something we needed to improve, and we’re grateful for the fact that many people came together to make it happen. It’s great for us to be able to practice and play on the same surface, and to be able to do it on the best surface available on the market.”

“During the recruiting process, Coach Civetti talks about how being a Tufts Jumbo football player is not just a four-year commitment. It is a 40-year commitment,” said senior running back Mike Pedrini, A22, the first three-year captain in Tufts football history.

The renovation allows other varsity sports like soccer and lacrosse to practice and play at the facility, while also providing space for a variety of club and intramural sports and local community youth sports. Photo: Alonso Nichols“There is no better evidence of the lifelong family you join as a Tufts football player than this new field,” he added. “We are so grateful for the Friends of Tufts Football and others—the support that our team gets is inspiring. It’s always a great day to be a Jumbo, and every time we step on this new field we will be reminded of that.”

Four 90-foot Musco Sports Lighting poles will be equipped with LED fixtures, the newest tool for putting more light on fields with less spill to surrounding areas, while also reducing energy consumption and operating costs.

A Daktronics scoreboard will feature an LED video board with 15HD resolution. Due to supply chain issues related to the pandemic and the desire to upgrade the electrical infrastructure in the area, the lights and the new video board won’t be powered and operational until 2022.

Originally constructed as the Tufts Oval in 1894, the complex soon included a baseball diamond, football field, outdoor track, and six-hole golf course. In 1969, the area was renamed the Frederick M. Ellis Oval in honor of the legendary student-athlete, coach of football and basketball, and professor of physical education at Tufts.

Over the years the facility has been home to many Jumbo teams and student-athletes beyond football and track, though not recently. The renovation allows other varsity sports like soccer and lacrosse to practice and play at the facility, while also providing space for a variety of club and intramural sports and local community youth sports.

In addition to athletics, the new and improved Oval will become a center of student life at Tufts as a venue for campus and community events.

“The alumni, family, and friends of Tufts Athletics are incredible,” said Director of Athletics John Morris. “They shared our vision of a revitalized Ellis Oval becoming a new center of athletics excellence, student life, and community engagement. It was their generosity, and their passionate support of Jumbo student-athletes and the entire campus community, that made this exciting project possible. Whether it’s a night football game, a movie night, or some other fun event, Ellis Oval now can serve as a wonderful venue for so many more student life and community activities.”

“Tufts University would like to thank Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone, Ward 6 City Councilor Lance Davis, and our neighbors for supporting this project,” added Rocco DiRico, executive director of government and community relations. “Tufts hosts local youth sports, high school sports, and movie nights on campus each year, and we are excited that the revitalization of Ellis Oval will provide us with a new space for community events.”

Fundraising is now underway for the next phase of the project, which will include new bleachers, press box, and locker rooms.

Director of Athletic Communications Paul Sweeney can be reached at paul.sweeney@tufts.edu.