On Sept. 17, when the Weber State University football team takes the field for the first home game of the season, the players will be running onto a newly installed field turf.
A new field turf surface was recently laid at Stewart Stadium, and work has begun on installing a new track around the field.
“The project began in early April and is about to be completed,” said Paul Grua, WSU media relations director. “The field should be done in a week, then the new track will be completed later in July. Everything will be in place for our football home opener on Sept. 17, and we are excited to have a home game with the new field.”
Grua said installing a turf field is something WSU has wanted to do for a while, but wasn’t able to due to the cost. Last year, the WSU Athletics Department was able to make these improvements at Stewart Stadium and the Chick Hislop Track thanks to a generous donation.
With the addition of the new field, WSU will be able to use the field more and the football team will be able to practice at the stadium. Jerry Bovee, WSU’s athletic director, said the department is hoping to attract some high-school athletics.
“We had talked about the wear and tear on our field,” Bovee said. “We wanted to attract other community events to campus, especially high-school football championships . . . To accomplish all those things, the natural turf field wasn’t in a situation where we’d be able to accomplish all those goals.”
The new field is something the WSU Athletics Department has had in mind for a while, but was held back in the past due to financial issues.
“We have wanted a turf field for a while, but they are very costly,” Grua said. “The improvements at Stewart Stadium are being funded from a generous donation from Robert and Annette Marquardt. They donated to the athletics department last fall, and a big part of those donations is a new turf field and track at the stadium. The Marquardts have been very generous and helped make this possible.”
Many schools around the nation are switching to turf fields because they come with many advantages and can help to cut costs in the long run.
“Most fields are going to turf grass, and it is a great benefit,” Grua said. “It will save on maintenance of the field as well as cut down on wear and tear due to weather or other events there. We will also be able to host more events, more games, band competitions, etc., which will help promote Weber State.”
Eventually, the Wildcats plan on further additions to Stewart Stadium, but for now, the new field and track are the main focus.
“Those will be the main things this year,” Grua said. “Also going on with this project is a new fence on the south end of the stadium and some improved landscaping around the stadium. There are plans for a new entrance on the north side of the stadium, which will include a ticket office, restrooms, concessions and more. We hope to have that in place in a few years.”