Here's a view of the new playing field inside historic Kinnick Stadium from atop the Paul W. Brechler Press Box. It's a pretty sight, isn't it?
Once completed, the UI will become the seventh Big Ten Conference institution to have an artificial surface in its football facility. That list includes Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio State, Indiana and the new stadium under construction on University of Minnesota campus. The Iowa football team currently practices on a synthetic surface when it is outdoors at the Kenyon Practice Facility and when inside "The Bubble," the UI's indoor practice facility.
The FieldTurf surface has replaced the PAT - Prescription Athletic Turf - natural grass playing surface that was installed during the 2005 season. Kinnick has featured a grass playing surface since the 1989 season. It had an artificial surface from 1972 through 1988.
The UI estimates the total cost to replace the drainage system and install a new playing surface to be a slightly more than $2 million. The UI Athletics Department will be responsible for 100 percent of the expense. The documents provided to the State of Iowa Board of Regents earlier this year indicated the installation of a synthetic playing surface will reduce the annual cost of field maintenance by approximately $80,000 annually and that the synthetic surface - like most natural grass surfaces - has a useful life of approximately eight years.
"I'm confident this is the right direction. Today's synthetic surfaces have come so far since the old carpet turfs. They are student-athlete friendly, they have the look, feel, and performance of real grass, and, they are durable through all types of weather," UI Director of Athletics Gary Barta said in January. Barta also noted that the number of synthetic surfaces being installed in collegiate and professional facilities increases annually.
"We've had excellent feedback from our student-athletes about the synthetic surfaces we practice on each day here on campus, and when we've played a game on an artificial surface away from Kinnick. Today's synthetic surfaces are certainly better than what we had in Kinnick previously," Kirk Ferentz, head coach of the Hawkeyes, said last winter.
The project eliminated the opportunity for an open-to-the-public scrimmage of the 2009 Iowa Hawkeyes in March. It is anticipated, however, that the project's schedule would allow for the staging of the annual "Kids Day at Kinnick" event traditionally held the second Saturday of August.
Iowa opens its 2009 season against intrastate rival Northern Iowa inside historic Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 5.
PREVIOUS KINNICK STADIUM PUZZLE IMAGES