By Megan Burnham
Joint Task Force Guantanamo
GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba – No longer will U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay's Cooper Field be known as a grassless and swampy area behind G.J. Denich Gym. Instead, it will be known throughout the Naval Station as a state-of-the-art sports complex where the need to grow grass is no longer an issue.
After a long year of renovations and construction, the Cooper Field Sports Complex had its grand opening Monday night with an official ribbon-cutting ceremony followed by the first games of the men's flag football season.
"I think [the ceremony] was terrific," said Craig Basel, the Morale, Welfare and Recreation installation program director. "We had people that came down to watch it and also watch the football games."
The different areas that make up the sports complex include a combined football and soccer field, a combined softball and baseball field and another full-size softball field.
"This complex is really only going to be used for games, not so much for practicing," said Basel.
A noticeable feature of the sports complex is the artificial turf found in all areas. Not only will the turf be easy to maintain and repair, it will enable the fields to stay in playable condition despite the weather.
"[The turf has] got a great draining system," said Basel. "Even if we were to get a torrential downpour, we could come back and play in about 20 minutes because the field would be ready for play."
Another enjoyable aspect of the complex is that players and spectators can purchase food and beverages sold at the concession area.
"It has got hot dogs, popcorn, soda and beer, those kinds of things that people like to have at a sporting event," said Basel.
The second phase of the sports complex project includes construction of a six-lane running track around the entire circumference of the football field. Fencing will also be installed to avoid stray balls from being lost in the sewers along Sherman Ave. The second phase has already begun and should be completed by mid-January.
From this point on, all softball, football, soccer and other MWR activities will be held at Cooper Field where the Naval Station, Joint Task Force Guantanamo Troopers and all other Guantanamo residents can come out and enjoy playing or watching.
"If you haven't played on these fields, you need to join a team and come out and enjoy yourself," said Basel.