Football field with lighting and minimal spillage to the houses in proximity
This field at Healdsburg High School has the same light levels proposed for Russell Field. The photo shows minimal light impact to the area surrounding the field.

Lighting the Way

New Russell Field Lights to Support Campus Recreation

Article updated June 13, 2024 with revised start date.

New lights will be installed on Russell Field this summer to support thousands of UC Davis Campus Recreation program participants across over 30 sports. This project includes the installation of 10 new, state-of-the-art LED field lights designed to provide adequate light for sports while minimizing excess light visible to nearby residents.

From grass volleyball to ultimate frisbee to flag football, Campus Recreation offers a wide variety of sports, many of which use outdoor fields for games, tournaments and practices. Historically, field availability for these programs has been limited.

“As Campus Recreation programming continues growing, the demand for space in the evening gets more difficult to accommodate,” Deb Johnson, director of Campus Recreation, said. Currently, due to the lack of field availability, several Campus Recreation clubs use fields owned by Athletics. “Although these facilities are nice to use, our clubs may lose their ability to make reservations since priority is given to intercollegiate athletic activities.”

Russell Field is approximately 8.5 acres located on the northern edge of campus along Russell Boulevard, California Avenue and Howard Way. This lighting update will provide expanded hours and extend usability of the field until 10 p.m. seven days a week. 

“This will immediately have an effect for programs that use our field during Fall and Winter quarter, as our fields are dark by 5 p.m.,” Johnson said.

Fostering the development of Campus Recreation holds significant value as participation in these  programs has been shown to have a positive impact on student well-being. In the 2023 Student Satisfaction Survey, 90% of students stated that Campus Recreation involvement helps with stress reduction while 84% noted it  provides a sense of belonging on campus.

From the inception of this project, the biggest priority has been ensuring proper recreation lighting levels on the field, while preventing as much impact as possible to the surrounding community. The placement, height and type of lights have been designed with this in mind.

“Our lighting consultant and equipment vendor use specially designed computer programs to set up and quickly analyze the properties of the light used in this plan. Then, they make adjustments to meet our parameters,” said Jeffrey Couture, project manager with Design Construction Management. 

The project team also commissioned a lighting study, which confirmed the lights will have negligible impact on the nearest residents across Russell Boulevard and will meet City of Davis lighting requirements.

In addition to lights, this project encompasses several other enhancements including the implementation of a new lighting control system accessible to maintenance staff via a mobile application, an update to the irrigation system for improved water and cost efficiency, as well as the installation of additional bike parking and an accessible pathway.

Construction for the Russell Field lighting update is set to begin in June 2024 and be complete before the Fall quarter begins. The field will be closed during construction. 

Learn more about the project