LINCOLN — Lighter and cooler. That could be the best way to describe the new playing surface inside Memorial Stadium that's about to be installed this summer.
NU started Monday ripping and rolling up its old FieldTurf — originally installed in 2005 — to prepare for a new, improved version of the same two-toned field.
The new FieldTurf doesn't require as much sand for the base — 40,000 fewer pounds, in fact — and the recycled tires previously used for the top layer of the field will be replaced by small granules of cork.
As coaches and players could attest over the years, the black rubber pellets — which will still be part of the base component — could generate quite a bit of heat in a September sun, raising on-field temperatures by several degrees.
The cork layer — called the CoolPlay system — is billed to be 35 degrees cooler and provide better shock absorption than typical rubber. The University of Maryland was the first school to install CoolPlay last August. Tulsa installed one earlier this year.
“FieldTurf started out testing all known products and components that have been touted as heat reducers for infilled turf fields,” FieldTurf President Eric Daliere said in a press release. “Cork was the best of both worlds — a material proven to absorb less heat and also provide shock absorbent characteristics. The CoolPlay system was the only combination that reduced heat while still meeting all of our requirements for what we consider to be a high performance surface.”
Nebraska will keep the two-tone look of the previous FieldTurf — a nod to the Huskers' days of a grass field in the 1960s — to stay consistent with the practice fields east of the Hawks Championship Center. Because NU wanted uniformity, it only consulted FieldTurf, the company, for a bid. The project will cost nearly $380,000 and the field will be ready for the start of fall camp in early August.
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