Delaware Stadium takes a pass on grass
SPORTS | For the first time in its 59-year history, the University's Tubby Raymond Field at Delaware Stadium has an artificial turf surface, ready for some play this spring and for the entire 2010 football season.
In December, the Delaware Stadium grass surface was removed and a new synthetic FieldTurf field was installed by Clark Cos. of Delhi, N.Y., one of the nation's leaders in turf installation. Clark also installed FieldTurf on the Delaware practice fields before the 2008 season.
The work was completed in time for spring football practice. In addition, the final seven home men's lacrosse games will be played on the new field.
"This is just one of several improvements we plan to take as we enhance the footprint of our athletics facilities here at the University of Delaware," says Director of Athletics Bernard Muir. "Delaware Stadium now becomes a multi-purpose facility that can be used for a host of other events and activities throughout the year. Our future plans include adding even more artificial turf fields on campus for recreational use."
Delaware now has become the 10th institution in the Colonial Athletic Association to play its home games on an artificial surface. Richmond, which will open its new on-campus stadium next fall, will be playing on artificial turf after playing on natural grass at Richmond Stadium. Rhode Island will be the only CAA school to play its games on natural grass.
In addition to football and men's lacrosse, the new surface will accommodate Blue Hen women's lacrosse games as well as outside organizations including high school sporting events. Both the UD men's and women's lacrosse teams plan to play all their games in Delaware Stadium in 2011.
"This is an exciting enhancement for our program, gives us a great surface to play on and makes Delaware Stadium so much more valuable," Delaware football head coach K.C. Keeler says. "It provides the University another place to hold events such as all-star games and state championships."
FieldTurf is designed to lower maintenance costs, increase playing time and provide for all-weather use. The company notes that more than 1,000 high schools play on the turf, and 21 of the NFL's 32 teams either play or practice on it, as do 100 Division I college teams.
Delaware Stadium, considered one of the finest football facilities in the country at the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) level, was erected in 1952 and enlarged prior to the 1964, 1970, 1972 and the 1975 seasons. The 22,000-seat stadium is the largest in the CAA and one of the largest in the nation at the FCS level.
Delaware annually ranks among the national leaders at the FCS level in average attendance and last season ranked No. 4 with an average crowd of 20,750 for six home games. It is the only school in the nation at the FCS level to have averaged more than 20,000 fans per regular season home game each of the last 11 seasons.
The stadium got a new look just before the 2000 season as eight poles of permanent broadcast-quality lights were installed by Musco Lighting. In addition, the South End Zone bleachers were replaced.
The Blue Hen football team enters Delaware Stadium from a brick runway underneath the stands directly behind the goalposts on game day. A bronze plaque listing the accomplishments of past Blue Hen football teams, along with a football, hangs from the runway. A new tradition was started in 2000 as Delaware players jump up to touch the plaque before entering the field.
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