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Projects • Christian Brothers University Soccer Field Detention

Christian Brothers University Soccer Field Detention

Memphis, Tennessee

After years of dealing with flooding in a densely populated area of downtown Memphis, the City of Memphis hired SSR to perform a Lit Creek drainage basin study to identify the need for regional detention in certain areas. The study, and associated dynamic water model, identified that the basin flooded due to capacity issues; it was dealing with more rainfall than the system could handle. The study also identified locations for potential detention ponds to temporarily store the excess water so the system could handle the amount of water flow and limit flooding. One of these sites was located on the campus of Christian Brothers University (CBU), specifically their soccer field.

The City approached CBU about the detention and purchased an easement from CBU for use of the land. Working closely with both the City and CBU personnel, including the soccer coach, SSR was able to think outside the box and design a system that would allow for the soccer field to become a duel use site that floods when the creek overflows, submerging the soccer field, and then drains back into the creek after the storm passes.  Part of the project included reconfiguring into a box culvert to spill water into the detention once the water level reached a certain stage, and then drain back into culvert after the peak flow had passed, cutting the peak off and avoiding flooding. Creative design materials and practices were implemented to make design requirements, such as retaining walls and erosion control measures, more aesthetically pleasing.  Flow control, into and out of the basin, was accomplished using an adjustable orifice plate and a side discharging weir that provides capacity without creating a safety risk or eyesore.

The project ended up being a win-win situation for both stakeholders involved. The City gained a much needed detention that eased flooding concerns for other residences of the basin downstream. It was the first time that anyone had tried to make a dual-use facility for storm water in Memphis. Because of the success of the project, the City has moved forward with other dual-use projects.

In exchange for the land, CBU received an improved NCAA regulation soccer field that, through the use of context sensitive design, most spectators are completely unaware of the dual purpose of the land. The project was constructed during the off season, avoiding any interruption to the teams schedule and practice. Additionally, the project also allowed for some upgrades to the field, including an under-drain system, ADA accessible ramp, terraced spectator bluff, and improved walking paths with lighting.


  • City of Memphis

Project Completion

  • 2009

Services Provided