LAYING THE GROUNDWORK
FieldTurf installation brings Lubbers Stadium closer to kickoff
With football training camps opening in the NFL this month, football
is nearing a return, and locally, renovation on Grand Valley State
University’s Lubbers Stadium is nearing completion. The project is
approximately two weeks ahead of the projected Aug. 7 date.
“We still have quite a bit of work to get done, but provided everything tracks the way it is, we should be good,” said Brian Darling of Erhardt Construction, the project’s superintendent, who was also a part of the grandstand remodeling last summer. “It is one of the coolest projects I have ever worked on. The stadium is like a different place. It is amazing from what it was to now.”
So far, the field has been lowered eight feet, the track has been removed, two roads for snow removal have been added along with approximately 2,300 seats including the Huntington Club sections, and the Peppino’s Patio and ESPN 96.1 Zone have been created, all to enhance the game-day experience.
Meanwhile, the latest installment is FieldTurf. With 518,000 pounds of sand and 194,000 pounds of rubber ready to go, the process is moving along smoothly.
“Turf is lying on top of stone, basically a big French drain,” said Bob Horchar, the lead installer of Field Turf for Kerr Athletics. “It is designed so it can drain two inches an hour straight through the turf into the sub-base. Sand and rubber go on top, that way the players are actually playing on sand and rubber instead of the backing of the carpet which used to cause many injuries with the old turf.”
Horchar has been installing the synthetic material for 15 years now. He has done work on five NFL fields and numerous practice facilities around the league, as well as numerous college and high school fields. He is also currently working on Hope College’s Holland Municipal Stadium.
With the introduction of turf to Lubbers Stadium, however, Horchar says it is something that will make maintenance a lot easier.
“The upkeep is minimal,” he said. “They have to drag with an aerator, brooms and rakes on it. Basically just drag that around maybe 8 to 10 times a year, if that. And a lawn sweep just to take the debris off the surface.”
For fans, the turf is just one aspect of this long-awaited renovation project that will hopefully enhance their experience and provide even more energy on game day.
“Grand Valley deserves to have a nice, updated stadium,” said Gary Reinelt, 54, of Clarkston, Mich., who is entering his fourth year as a season-ticket holder. “A lot of people in the past probably didn’t bother to come to the games because it was a smaller stadium and they may not have gotten a seat. It is an all-around good thing for the school.”
Come the home-opener on Sept. 8 against Notre Dame College of Ohio, it will not only be a warm welcome for the GLIAC’s newest team, but it will be a Black Out game for the history books.
“It is going to be a blast with a new field, new team that we have never played before,” said junior quarterback Heath Parling. “I honestly can’t wait. It is going to be an exciting night.”