UNK replacing turf at Cope Stadium; work begins today
20 June 2017
After 13 seasons of use, the University of Nebraska at Kearney is replacing its existing field surface at Ron and Carol Cope Stadium with a new FieldTurf Classic HD.
Mobilization and site work begin today (Monday). The new turf installation is expected to be complete in four to six weeks, ready for use in early August.
The new field covers 109,000 square feet and features the blue and white Loper logo at midfield. The end zones include the words Nebraska and Kearney on the north and south ends, respectively. The playing surface will have markings for football and soccer.
“We are committed to offering the very best facilities possible to our users,” said UNK Athletic Director Paul Plinske. “New synthetic turf is essential to performance and safety. This is one of the most highly-used spaces in the city of Kearney.”
The field is used by the Loper football and soccer teams, and is also home to Kearney High School football, Nebraska Shrine Bowl and the 6-Man State Championship. The surface is also used for marching band competitions, intramurals, recreation, kinesiology courses and other campus and community events.
“This project is an investment that will benefit not only Loper Athletics, but our entire campus and the Kearney community,” said Plinske. “We are really excited about the new look. It will provide great brand visibility, give the stadium a fresh look and make Kearney and the university proud.”
UNK has played on turf since 2004, when Foster Field transitioned away from grass. The life expectancy of artificial turf is eight to 10 years. After 13 seasons, Plinske said, the surface has deteriorated to where it was no longer performing to industry expectations.
“The surface exceeded expectancy by about three to four years. It is evident that turf firmness and traction are not up to standards,” Plinske said.
The two-phase installation process includes removal of the existing turf, recycling the crumb rubber, re-grading the sub-base and repairing any damaged areas. The second phase includes rolling out and placing the high-end polymer turf, sewing together panels, marking the field and installing the sand and rubber infill.
The three-layer system is a combination of Nebraska recycled tire and re-used rubber from the existing field.
“It is important to us that we re-use as much of the existing rubber as possible while also installing Nebraska recycled tire,” Plinske said. “This is an environmentally friendly surface that will help us control costs.”
No state dollars are being used for the $464,000 project. UNK Athletics and the University of Nebraska Foundation raised $300,000 from private support. Another significant portion will come from a Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality scrap tire reimbursement grant, with the balance of costs coming from a facility reserve account.
“We are thankful to our loyal supporters who enabled us to fund a large portion of the project costs,” Plinske said. “We knew we needed to raise a significant portion to eliminate the financial burden on our institution.”
UNK is installing the “Classic HD” surface, which is one of FieldTurf’s most popular products and is used at Memorial Stadium at the University of Nebraska, as well as nearly every Big Ten school.
A dedication will take place Thursday, Aug. 31, when the Lopers open the football season against Missouri Western State University. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m.