August 30, 2007
Razorback Stadium Field Renovation
This spring the turf inside Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium was renovated by Pat Berger, CGCS and his staff (click here to read about the renovation process). The razorbacks have played on ‘Tifway’ bermudagrass for the last several years, but the field was renovated this May due to aesthetic problems with bermudagrass off-types and contamination. The new field was seeded with ‘Riviera’ bermudagrass. Riviera bermudagrass has similar color to Tifway, but Riviera has better winter hardiness and traffic tolerance than Tifway. The following images provide a pictorial guide about the performance of the field and the preparation that occurs the week prior to a home game.
On August 18, 2007 the Razorbacks held one of two scrimmages open to the public. These scrimmages provided an opportunity to see how the newly renovated field will perform this year. If a field is going to fail after a renovation, it usually occurs during the first season because the turf is not as well established in the rootzone. Pat Berger made the decision to retain much of the organic matter in the existing rootzone during the renovation process to help insure that the footing and playability of the stadium were adequate this season. Prior to the scrimmage (Fig. A) the field is seen with little to no damage. The field did show some signs of wear during the scrimmage (Figs. B and C) as expected. The field performed well during the scrimmage. It provided a fast surface with good footing for the team as they prepared for their first games (Fig. D)
One of the first things that is done following the scrimmage is to roll the field and press down any divots in the turf that occurred during the game (Fig. E). The beneficial effects of this practice can be see in Figure F. Any large divots are then replaced with plugs.
Four days following the scrimmage the field was already healing quickly. Pat and his staff fertilize the field after a game with a foliar fertilizer to encourage growth and recovery in addition to using a slow-release granular fertilizer. From a distance there appears to be little damage to the field (Fig. G), but up close the damage in the center of the field (the most trafficked area of the field) appears more severe (Fig. H). An up close view of the damaged areas (divots) shows that the turf is already recovering by spreading in from the edges (Fig. I) and from regrowth from stolons and crowns (Fig. J).
Starting Tuesday, August 28, 2007 the painting of the field logos and lines began. Red paint is applied the first day using a specialized athletic field paint sprayer. Lance Leder, men’s athletics, coordinates the efforts to touch-up the paint on the logos that were laid out the week previous. The first step is to mow and vacuum the turf that is to be painted. Next, string will be laid out to help ensure that the logos are painted accurately (Fig. K). Each letter is then painted individually by hand (Figs. L and M). The paint (Fig. N) will last about a week. Typically, a small amount of plant growth regulator is also added to the paint to help reduce the turf growth which will then ensure that the paint will stay on the turf for a few days longer than normal. This helps insure that the logos are crisp and look great during the game.
White paint is used the following day (O-R). SEC anniversary logos are the only item that remains to be painted. The field is now ready! It looks great and is playing great. Now we just have to sit back and cheer on the HOGS!
More updates on the field conditions will follow in the future. Make sure to forward this turf tip to others and encourage them to signup for the ARKTURF listserv.