Macalester stadium undergoes a massive facelift

By Emily Dunn

If you’ve been to a football or soccer game lately or made your way down Snelling Ave. chances are you’ve noticed the new turf. Actually, the shiny “Mac Scots” logo embedded in the field is apparently visible from landing airplanes at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport.

The installation of the new turf has been in the works for a while as part of the new athletic facility and field renovations. After exhaustedly researching a number of companies and different products, Macalester settled on McGough Construction, which is also the contractor for the new field house facility, to install the turf.

FieldTurf is a product touted as the next generation of turf products, using a new monofilament technology that outperforms older turf products that resemble grass skirts. This new monofilament turf utilizes a synthetic material and pushes it through a ground cover filament to make individual blades of grass. This is then filled with sand and ground rubber that spreads itself out over time creating a friendly, sustainable playing surface. What this means for athletes playing on it is a user friendly, almost spongy, field.

Contrary to what you may think, installing turf is hardly comparable to laying down a rug. The million plus dollar project took all summer. It was started the day after graduation in anticipation of the first football practice August 12. Before the turf was laid down, time was spent digging up the old field as well as many tree stumps that were imbedded into the soil. Layers of rock were then laid on the base of the turf, compressed, and covered with conditioned soil for drainage.
“I remember watching a NCAA women’s soccer championship game last fall and the field was a complete swamp with grassy patches. The new turf is far better than the old field,” Athletic Director Travis Feezell said.
Currently, twenty-two teams of the National Football League and three Major League Baseball teams use FieldTurf in their stadiums. It doesn’t look like it has hurt any Mac teams, which have been undefeated, going 6-0-1 since the men’s soccer team opened the season and broke in the turf with a 2-1 victory over Bethel.

In addition, the field turf space can now be used more frequently for practices and other events without having to worry about keeping it conditioned for competition. “The new turf requires far less maintenance. It doesn’t need mowing or fertilizers, we don’t need to put lines on it, it doesn’t wear down, and it will last for 10-15 years,” Feezell added. Maintenance for the new turf entails keeping the sand and rubber filler spread out and some occasional fluffing.

The turf is the first renovation in the series of projects going on at the Field House in the coming months. “Staging was important. We wanted to get the turf finished now so displaced teams could have a place to practice during construction in the spring and next fall,” Feezell said.

“I have heard nothing but positive feed-back about the turf. It’s a great surface for the body and soccer players have commented that the ball plays true as opposed to bouncing different ways on the contours and lumps of the old field,” Feezell said.