May. 1, 2000
SEATTLE ? As a result of a gift from the Seattle Seahawks and team owner Paul G. Allen, the playing surface in Husky Stadium will be replaced with FieldTurf, a synthetic sports surface that duplicates the playing conditions of real grass. The removal of the current AstroTurf and the installation of the FieldTurf will take place this summer. The new field will be in place for the Aug. 5 preseason football game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Indianapolis Colts. Seattle will be the first National Football League team to play a game on FieldTurf.
"The athletic department appreciates the generosity of the Seattle Seahawks and Mr. Allen in making this gift to the University of Washington," said Washington athletic director Barbara Hedges. "This creates an opportunity to play on a world class surface for both programs in addition to all of the other groups and organizations that use Husky Stadium for athletic and recreational purposes. We are very grateful to the Seahawks and Mr. Allen for this gift."
The Seattle Seahawks will play all of their home games in Husky Stadium during the 2000 and 2001 NFL season while their new stadium is built in downtown Seattle.
FieldTurf consists of artificial grass fibers that are made from a polyethylene and polypropylene blend, treated and tufted into a unique porous surface backing. Specifically engineered equipment places each individual grass fiber in a pattern that emulates real grass. The hybrid fiber is strong, smooth, soft and forgiving. The infill is made from graded silica sand and ground rubber and surrounds each FieldTurf fiber like natural earth holds a blade of grass. The infill provides a non-compatible, resilient, natural earth feel.
FieldTurf was engineered to deliver optimal performance in wet or dry conditions. It is a totally porous system that provides for maximum drainage and leaves the turf perfect underfoot in even a heavy downpour.
FieldTurf has been installed in a number of football stadiums across the nation, most notably, Memorial Stadium at the University of Nebraska in 1999. This year FieldTurf became the playing surface for Tropicana Field, the home of Major League Baseball?s Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
In the northwest, FieldTurf can be found at Jesuit High School in Portland, Lake Oswego High School in Beaverton, Ore. and on fields at Portland State University. It is also the playing surface at the Queen Anne Bowl recreational field in Seattle. Washington State University is installing FieldTurf at Martin Stadium this summer.
With construction set to begin this summer on Washington?s new indoor practice facility, a new outdoor football practice field will be constructed on the east end of Husky Stadium. The new football practice field will also feature a FieldTurf surface. The E-11 parking lot adjacent to the southeast corner of the stadium will be slightly altered to accommodate the field.
The total cost of the FieldTurf installation in Husky Stadium and the east practice field will be $1,074,958. Seattle Seahawks team owner Paul G. Allen is covering the expenses as a gift to the University of Washington.
Both Washington football coach Rick Neuheisel and Seattle Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren have seen the FieldTurf field in Queen Anne. Neuheisel took several Husky players to get their reaction to the surface.
"When we first drove up, I did not know what we were looking at because it looked like grass to me," Neuheisel said. "It was pretty wet and the only way you could tell the FieldTurf from the real grass around it was that the real grass was trampled and muddy. I was really impressed. Our players were also excited about it. They liked the feel of the surface and could not believe how dry it was despite the fact it had rained earlier in the day. I think this will be a hit with our team. We want to provide the best facilities for our student-athletes and this certainly fits into our plan."
In 1968 Washington became the first major college to install AstroTurf as the playing surface for its football field. At that time, the Houston Astrodome was the only other major facility to use the playing surface. The original artificial turf was replaced in 1972, 1977, 1987 and, most recently, in the summer of 1995.