The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 80.0°F | A Few Clouds

$1.6 Million Turf Repair To Be Completed by Fall

By Kristen Landino

The Athletic Department has announced plans to replace the omnifield turf this summer. Construction crews began tearing up the existing field on Monday in order to make way for the new astroturf.

The overall budget for the project is $1.6 million, which “provides not only for replacement costs, but also for the replacing surface and underlayer of material,” said John Hawes, project manager for the turf replacement. According to Hawes, the replacement of the asphalt surface below the field is not anticipated. New fences and stands will be constructed, however.

Funds were allocated for the project by the Committee for the Review of Space Planning which includes such senior administration officials as Provost Robert A. Brown and Chancellor Lawrence S. Bacow ’72. The project is part of the infrastructure replacement budget.

“Our goal is to complete this project by mid-August, in time for the fall sports season,” said Daniel Martin, Director of Facilities and Operations for the Athletic Department.

Southwest Recreational Industries, the contractors for the operation, will install astroturf-12 on the omnifield. Based out of Leander, Texas, SRI is the sole manufacturer of astroturf in the United States and is currently under contract with Harvard University for its new field construction.

Safety prompts replacement

The omnifield was closed in April after numerous complaints from both students and officials about the danger the field posed. At that time, the field was over 12 years old. According to Martin, a turf field usually lasts between 8 and 10 years.

“Certainly safety was a concern,” said Hawes of the field replacement.

“The old turf was installed in 1986 and had run its useful cycle. As time went on, people’s concern for safety was raised,” Martin said.

The administration moved to replace the turf swiftly after its shutdown in early April.

“The turf is the most important field we have. It is the only lighted and all-weather field at MIT. In the fall semester, it is used by field hockey, football, intramural soccer, as well as several club sports,” Martin said.

During the spring semester when the omnifield was shutdown, many teams were required to relocate their practices to either the oval or Johnson causing problems with crowding.

“When you lose a key facility, it becomes a problem. The Institute stepped up to support us and we moved diligently to get it done,” said Martin.

Numerous changes in the replacement turf will improve safety on the field. According to Hawes, the old field had painted lines cut into it and sewn separately into the larger surface. This structure resulted in problems as the field began to show wear and tear.

The painted lines came undone from the main turf causing athletes to trip or twist their ankles on the protruding pieces. The new astroturf, however, will have integrated colored lines so there will be less danger to athletes as the field is subjected to normal use.