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July 17, 2013
About a month ago, the Nebraska athletic department began the process of tearing up the turf in Memorial Stadium and replacing it. The project has nearly been brought to completion and early Wednesday afternoon, members of the media were invited to come view the improved playing surface.
John Ingram, the University's Associate Athletic Director for Capital Planning & Construction, was on hand to answer questions and explain what was new and improved about the upgraded field turf.
What's left to do before the field is completed?
"We're just completing all the stitching in of the logos and the lines. Then we'll start the process of filling the turf. That includes layering in sand and rubber about two inches deep and that creates the dirt, so to speak, that is the foundation and performance part of the field. The green part, the fibers, are to hold the fill in and look good.
"This field is going to be a little bit different than ones we've done in the past. We're going to put about nine tons of cork on the top versus the black rubber. In the past, the black rubber tends to absorb heat, especially on days like this when it's 95 degrees. The cork doesn't do that. It makes a cooler playing surface for the student athlete. They say it's up to 30 degrees cooler. Any time you can have a cooler playing surface, it's going to be better for the student athletes. There is always the question of heat when it gets to be this hot outside, but if we keep the student athletes hydrated, they won't lose as much if it's a little bit cooler out there.
"They'll start the filling process by the end of this week and it'll probably take another eight to 10 days to get it all cleaned up and ready to go (before it can be used)."
Other than that, what are the improvements of the new turf?
"It's a tougher fiber. It won't get thinner over time and break off like the old fiber does. All the fields after about eight or ten years start to look bad. Performance-wise, this could have been good for another four years, but it wasn't looking as good as it needed to for our program, so we decided to change it. Typically about every eight years it's time to change your field.
"One other cool thing about the turf is that we're using about 20,000 recycled Nebraska tires in this field. Those are tires that are not ending up in the landfill."
Is there a difference in the color contrast between the two tones of green?
"The lighter green probably isn't as light as the green we put in in 2005. We prefer this one. It looks a bit more like a freshly mowed grass. We wanted it to look more like real grass. I think the fans will really like it."
How much did it cost?
"The whole system was about $400,000 with the grading and everything."
How is the turf different and what makes it better?
"Grass fibers are about two inches long. The old Astroturf was maybe half an inch thick. It may not look all that much like grass right now, but as we start to layer in fill and stand up these fibers and we brush them, they come apart and become blades of grass.
"We also have imbedded irregation in this field as well. We can wet it down to cool it off as well."
How much will the team need to be on the field to get it broken in?
"We'll let the band out on in first to break it in. We'll water it and roll it. With practice, it'll be ready on game day."
Who first came up with the idea to put Tom Osborne's name on the field?
"I think it was a collective decision from our management team. It's been named Tom Osborne Field since 1998. We put it on that field with the last year of the Astroturf. When we removed the field in 1999 and put the first field turf down in college football, Tom just didn't feel like it was fair for Frank (Solich) to have his name on the field right when Frank took over. In respect to Tom, we left it off at that time. But we as a management team decided it was time to put Tom's name back on the field."
How is East Stadium coming along?
"All the seats are in place. If we teed it up today, we could see fans in there. Right now, we're just working on all the finishes, the carpet, the ceiling tiles, the installing of the equipment.
"I think the coolest part is that we stacked it straight up, more like an arena configuration. The fans are looking straight down on the field and when the opposing team comes in the stadium for the first time, just having a wall of red in front of them is going to be really interesting."
How much of an upgrade is all this as far as the overall fan experience?
"I think it's going to be tremendous. With Nebraska's sellout record and the commitment of the fans for the past 50 years, I think this will set up nicely for the next 50."
***Total area of field: 85,000 square feet.
***Total weight of material used, including the weight of the FieldTurf: 400 tons.
***Total weight of rounded sand: 265 tons.
***Total weight of rubber (from recycled Nebraska tires): 115 tons.
***Total weight of cork top layer: 9 tons.