Volume 93, Issue 4
Friday, June 4, 1999
No more grass stains for the Stangs
WHEN IN THE HELL DO I GET MY GOLD WATCH? When the new stadium opens up next year with artificial turf, Bruno the lawn mower will retire an era in lawn care.
By Christina Vardanis
By the summer of 2000, the sweet smell of freshly cut grass will be a distant memory for both Western athletes and spectators.
The university's new stadium, to be built on the Huron flats, will house artificial turf a switch from the natural conditions of J.W. Little Stadium. The decision came in light of recent technological advances to artificial turf, the stadium's commitment to host the 2001 Canada games and issues of practicality.
Orlando Zamprogna, London Controller and special projects coordinator for Western's physical plant, said the Canada games have certain events which require artificial turf. He added the cost of building the new stadium would ideally be offset by an increased amount of rentals.
"Grass does not stand up for heavy usage," Zamprogna said. "There's four to five times more use for artificial turf than grass." He added the cost of the turf, including the soil and subsurface, is in the range of $1.2 to 1.5 million. "Ideally, we would make enough revenue for the cost of replacement and installation."
Wilfrid Laurier University made the switch from natural turf to artificial in 1994. Peter Baxter, director of athletics and recreation at Laurier said the change increased their intramural ability by two-thirds and can also handle programming from intercollegiate athletics, their kinesiology department and the community.
Baxter added the technological advances to artificial turf makes it a safer product than it was in the past. These advances include changing the amount of cushioning under the carpet, improving drainage systems and increasing the flexibility of the turf to avoid carpet burns.
"I don't think the words 'multi-use' and 'natural turf' are compatible," said Larry Haylor, Western's football coach. He added while footing, traction and consistency of movement are factors which increase on artificial turf, overall changes to the game would be minimal.
Baxter agreed game strategy isn't dependent on turf. "It's determined by the talent you have on the field and the philosophy of the coach."
Although the advances in artificial turf have increased safety, Baxter said there are still a lot of purists who feel there's an injury factor coinciding with its use. However, he said Laurier hasn't seen a huge difference in injury statistics.
"The surfaces used to be so sticky, deceleration injuries used to be a problem," Haylor said, adding the current model of artificial turf avoids this concern. "The pooling of water is not the problem it was when artificial turf came into being."
Haylor said while bruising and abrasions are a worry, the team can prevent them with knee and elbow sleeves.
Darwin Semotiuk, chair of athletics at Western said the practice fields outside of J.W. Little Stadium, if looked at between September and November, are a perfect example of the wear and tear a natural surface undertakes. He added economics may be the reason other universities aren't switching to artificial turf.
"It's not an inexpensive proposition," he said, adding in the case of Western, the change was the right thing to do. "I'm not the least bit uncomfortable with the decision. It was the right one for the greater amount of people."
Copyright © The Gazette 1999