June 5, 2008
Memorial Stadium, on the campus of the University of Illinois, will have a new state-of-the-art FieldTurf surface installed prior to the 2008 NCAA football season. The announcement was jointly made by UI Director of Athletics Ron Guenther and FieldTurf CEO Joe Fields. Memorial Stadium is one of the most venerable and historic venues in all of college football and has previously been nominated to become a national historic landmark
FieldTurf's latest and greatest monofilament system will be installed at Memorial Stadium. The new surface will officially debut Sept. 6 when the Fighting Illini host Eastern Illinois in the 2008 home opener. The new FieldTurf will replace the school's previous AstroPlay field. Illinois will become the fifth Big Ten team to have FieldTurf at its football stadium, joining Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio State and Wisconsin.
"We are very pleased to work with FieldTurf, the industry leader, for the installation of the new playing surface at Memorial Stadium," said University of Illinois Director of Athletics Ron Guenther.
"It's truly an honor to be associated with such an historic facility as Memorial Stadium," said Fields. "From Red Grange through last year's Rose Bowl squad, there is a great tradition at Memorial Stadium and FieldTurf is proud to now be a part of it. About half of the Big Ten now plays its home games on FieldTurf, so the new surface will provide some consistency for Coach (Ron) Zook and his players. More importantly, the Illini players will now be playing on the artificial turf that registers the highest marks in safety and playability in the world today."
This marks the second significant FieldTurf installation at the University of Illinois. Illinois Field, the home of the Illini baseball team, had FieldTurf installed earlier this year.
Memorial Stadium has been the home of the Illinois football teams since its opening in 1923. It was designed by the same architects who created Chicago's Soldier Field, the home of the NFL's Bears. It was originally built as a memorial to Illinois men and women who gave their lives to their country in World War I.
More than 40 major NCAA universities have FieldTurf in their stadiums, including Nebraska, Michigan, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Washington, Oregon, Boston College, Rutgers, Kansas State, Louisville and Missouri. Twenty-one of the NFL's 32 teams use FieldTurf at their stadiums and/or practice facilities. In addition, MLB's Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Minnesota Twins and Toronto Blue Jays have FieldTurf at their respective stadiums.
With more than 2,500 installations in nearly 50 countries, FieldTurf Tarkett is the largest entity in the sports surfacing industry. The firm also produces flooring surfaces for basketball, volleyball, squash and racquetball facilities, as well as floor protection and covering systems and weight room flooring. They also manufacture a number of different track, tennis and golf surfaces.
Here's a look at how Field Turf is put together. (Click HERE for a larger version of the illustration.)