East Central University’s Norris Field is receiving a makeover in its truest sense.
For the first time in the 80-year-plus history of the venerable football stadium, it will receive an artificial playing surface in time for the 2013 season.
The $880,300 surface, called Revolution, comes from FieldTurf Company, according to Stan Lewis of Architects in Partnership, P.C., of Norman.
The University of Missouri just had FieldTurf Revolution installed at its stadium, Faurot Field, in 2012. Several other NCAA Division I schools have the Revolution surface on their campuses including the University of Minnesota, University of Texas, University of Washington and the U.S. Naval Academy.
“We think this not only gives us an advantage in recruiting football players, but also recruiting other students to the university,” said ECU President John Hargrave. “The football field is the most visible place on our campus. Thousands of people visit ECU’s football stadium, whether it’s for band contests, football games, an Ada High football game or the little league football program. The entire community will benefit from this.”
A majority of the funding for the project comes from private donations from the Chickasaw Nation, Victor Page, Randall and Shirley Pogue, Wink and Rachel Kopczynski and Craig Scheef.
“We are very much appreciative to those who have helped make this project available and we’re appreciative of hearing ideas and further suggestions or help that we may get from the community, alumni and supporters,” Hargrave said.
ECU head football coach Tim McCarty believes the new turf field will not only benefit the football program, but the Ada community as well.
“I think it’s a great statement by the university and friends of the university that we are moving our program forward to be on par with the other great programs in the nation,” said McCarty. “This surface will be not just a great addition for the ECU football program, but for the great Ada community as well in that it will be able to be used year round.”
The process for laying the new turf has already started with the current, ongoing removal of the natural grass sod at Norris Field.
“The old turf is going around to areas all over campus where there are bare spots, including bare spots around the stadium. We have contracted with the Chickasaw Sod Farm, of Davis, for the cutting of the old turf. They will take half (of the old turf,)” said Raymond Johnson, Interim Director of the ECU Physical Plant.
The target date for completion of the turf installation is May 1st, weather permitting.
The FieldTurf Revolution fiber surface is noted for its extraordinary durability and longevity as well as being unparalleled for its player safety and turf drainage, according to its website.
The unique shape of the FieldTurf Revolution fiber, complete with numerous ridges that run from the top to bottom alongside each face of the fiber, was created to eliminate breaking points in each artificial grass blade.
Significant specifics of the new FieldTurf Revolution include:
*unique fiber shape and extrusion process which eliminates breaking points
*fiber resistant splitting and strong ultraviolet inhibitor technology
*a patented heavy three-layer infill with proven long-term safety characteristics
*patented Surelock coating system which leaves the backing 40 percent porous for unmatched draining.
The new turf is phase 1 of upcoming improvement projects to athletic facilities including: restrooms, concessions, seating, accessibility, visiting locker rooms and landscaping.
“This allows us to utilize the stadium for more events outside of football, like concerts and band contests,” said ECU Director of Athletics Jeff Williams. “It’s a great setup in improving player safety. It also reduces operational and maintenance costs.”
With the new turf, does come some concerns.
“The good news is that it will stand up to foot traffic. Chewing gum and pets are the biggest threats as well as food and drinks,” Williams said. “We will be modifying some of our existing guidelines in order to use the facility.”
The cosmetics of the field will include the ECU Tiger logo at midfield with white Tigers lettering on orange end zones.
With the installation of the new turf, the walking track around the football field will be closed until further notice.