Installation of new turf to begin

Strawberry Stadium, home of the Lions football team and host to numerous campus events, is scheduled to undergo a turf upgrade beginning Jan. 30. This is the first time the turf has been upgraded since the return of the football program in 2003.

This remodeling will include the removal of the old turf and track that surrounds the field and installation of a new turf that was previously used by the New Orleans Saints and Tulane University for one year during the 2010 season in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

“It’s the Saints old turf so we’re able to save about $300,000 at the same quality turf we would normally pay” said Athletic Director Bart Bellairs.

The Lion Athletics Association (LAA) finances this $525,000 project. The LAA is a non-profit organization that assists the Athletic Department by providing private and financial support for scholarships, operations and athletic facilities.

“We had to use loans so we’ll pay this back in the next couple of years,” said Bellairs. “The Lion Athletics Association makes money a lot of different ways.”

The LAA is also looking at doing some sponsorship rights to put some corporate sponsors names in the far corners of the end zone where the track would be in order to help pay for the project.

The high quality UBU-Speed Series-S5-M turf is a multi-use turf and the university plans to use the field for multiple events rather than just football games.

According to Bellairs the new turf will allow the women’s soccer team to compete in Strawberry Stadium for the first time and be used for different student events.

“Our coach [Blake Hornbuckle] really wants to play on grass but what happens is sometimes when the weathers so bad you mess up your field,” said Bellairs.

 “My goal is to get our soccer team to play over here a few times under the lights a little closer proximity to the students so they see it, I just think it’s a cool event.”

Due to the wear and tear of the old turf the decision was made to make a change. According to Bellairs different types of collision test are taken turf to see if the padding gives enough to protect players from concussions.

“Most turfs of that kind of nature last about seven or eights years so we were well there,” said Bellairs.

According to Bellairs,  no student parking will be affected during the process, and the project may be finished as soon as mid March, dependent onthe weather.