Construction in full swing for field turf installation at Bragg

11 July 2018

Fans and students alike are used to hearing loud sounds echoing from Bragg Memorial Stadium.

However, this time around, the bone-jarring hits and symphonic tunes of the Marching 100 normally associated with the famed venue, have been replaced by the clatter of pick-up trucks and drilling.

Immediately following last month's announcement to install field turf, contractors began the process of uprooting every square inch of grass.   

The replacement field is being supplied by AstroTurf and features their patented RootZone 3D3 fibers. This is the same surface at Camping World Stadium (Orlando), Boone Pickens Stadium (Oklahoma State) and Alumni Stadium (Boston College).

Additional revisions at Bragg include new goal posts, netting and foundation upgrades

"Having Florida A&M jump on board with AstroTurf is huge for both parties," said Wes Allen, Gulf Coast regional sales manager with AstroTurf.

"It's good for the university to have a top-notch facility. It will help in recruiting and bring other events to the university for exposure and generate revenue. For me, I'm happy to be able to say FAMU has our turf in the Panhandle. Anyone in North Florida that wants to see a good turf, there's one they can check out."

Florida A&M officials have estimated the investment costs for this project at $765,000.

The wholesale changes at Bragg Memorial Stadium will be aesthetically appealing to fans as they walk through the turnstile. They also help in recruiting prospective players.

Along with increased ticket sales and signing commitments, FAMU aims to draw in more sponsorship from local marketers looking to broaden their target base.

"With the changes we're making with the field, hopefully, this will appeal to the businesses in the community," said athletics director, Dr. John Eason.

"By adding six home games to the schedule, we'll have more fans here. As we bring in more fans, more sponsors will want to come because they'll have more eyes on their products. It will be a win-win for all of us."

Currently, contractors are logging 10-hour shifts to make the field ready for the turf installation. Along with leveling the dirt, workers are utilizing core drills to revise drainage system.  

AstroTurf officials have targeted the week of July 23 for their trucks to roll up on campus with the field materials.

From there, a crew of 6-8 employees will layout the new surface. Their additional tasks include painting the yard markers, school and conference logos. Barring any major weather delays, the work will be completed within 14-20 days.

To keep fans in the loop, FAMU has set up a camera with a 24-hour real-time feed. The viewing is available on the athletics department's website.

The buzz generated by the installation of the new turf coincides with the region-wide expectations for a renaissance of FAMU football.

Since December, the university has removed the interim tag from the president and athletics director. They also hired Willie Simmons of nearby Quincy as head coach.

His youthful energy, combined with local acquaintances and the installation of a state-of-the-art surface, has the area anxiously awaiting for the opening kickoff versus Fort Valley State on Sept. 1.

"My guys are really excited about this. They come by every day and talk about it," said Simmons. "It's a really exciting time for us here. We're looking forward to seeing the completion of it to allow the student-athletes to play on this great turf we call home."    

The first game on the newly-installed field features a doubleheader of high school football. On Saturday, Aug. 18, the second annual Jonathan A.P. Ferrell Kickoff Classic convenes with Miami Northwestern facing Godby and Miami Carol versus Rickards.