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War Memorial Stadium, Wyo. — A New Battlefield  January 17, 2008

The football field at War Memorial Stadium on Wyoming’s campus went through a major transformation in the spring and summer of 2005. Bucking tradition, the Cowboys decided to replace the natural grass surface that had been in place for over a half century in favor of a new type of synthetic turf that had never been used in college football. The new Desso Challenge Pro 60 Monofilament Synthetic Turf along with some other renovations gave an added punch to an already impressive facility. The photos on the next few pages illustrate the 10 week journey of this 55 year old stadium from old and outdated to fresh, clean and state of the art.

“The War” opened on Sept. 16, 1950, with a 61-13 win over Montana State, followed by an official dedication the following week. The stadium’s original capacity was 20,000. It was expanded to 25,500 in 1970, and the seating was increased to 33,500 in 1978. Following reconstruction of the west upper seating in the summer of ‘04, the current capacity is now 32,580.

Then, in April of 2005, War Memorial Stadium began its most striking transformation, when it tore out its 55-year-old natural grass surface and installed artificial turf.

The process began when crews cut the half-century old natural grass surface into strips, which were offered for sale to the public. Despite a mid-week snow storm that slowed sales, fans were able to purchase their piece of Cowboy Football history at a cost of fifty cents per foot on a first-come-first-served basis.

According to UW Athletics Director Gary Barta, the new surface, known as Desso Challenge Pro 60 Monofilament Synthetic Turf, is the first of its kind in Division 1A football. Made up of rubber pellets that have a cushioning effect, the new turf allow players’ cleats to dig in as if on natural grass.

Installation

The turf project began with removal of the old sod and topsoil. Concrete along the end-zones and sidelines was replaced, along with installation of new goalposts. After backfilling areas to reach grade, trenches were dug for the drainage system. When that stage was completed, landscaping fabric was laid and an eight-inch base of crushed rock was spread across the entire field for drainage purposes. A layer of sand was rolled over the crushed rock as the final preparation before turf installation. The artificial surface incorporates crumb-rubber “in-fill,” which gives an added layer of cushion to give it a natural grass feel.

American Civil Constructors of Littleton, Colo., was awarded the contract for the turf installation and worked on the field from mid-April through mid-August of 2005 to complete the job. The total project cost was just under $1 million, and was funded by the athletic department’s facility campaign along with matching funds from the State of Wyoming.

Maintenance

According to Bill Atencio, University of Wyoming Assistant AD to Facilities, the field does not require a great deal of maintenance, at least compared to the natural surface that preceded it.

Atencio said that on game days he arrives at the Field at 5:30 a.m. and leaves at or after midnight. His crew consists of 15 full time employees as well as anywhere from 10-15 students during the summer months. Unlike the many issues superintendents face on a natural surface, the biggest problem his staff faces is pine needles falling onto the field. The potentially hazardous nuisance requires regular sweeping to keep the field clear. To make sure they get into ever nook and cranny, his team employs a John Deere Gator to sweep the turf.

To kill any possible harmful bacteria that may build up on the artificial surface, once a year the chemical disinfectant is used to clean the field. “This kills any chance of infection,” said Atencio.

During the season, the field and stadium are cleaned after every game. One of the fraternities on campus along with a group from Wyotech, a local automotive technical school, take part in the clean up effort. “We clean the big stuff first, then blow the small stuff down (from the stands),” said Atencio.

An outside contractor comes in on Thursdays and Fridays and sweeps in and around the stadium to get it ready for game day.

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