NFL's Toma hired to repair Maui's War Memorial field
By Timothy Hurley
Advertiser Maui County Bureau
WAILUKU, Maui The NFL's chief turf consultant is being brought to Maui County to whip the War Memorial Stadium field into shape in time for the University of Hawai'i's season-opener against Montana on Sept. 8.
The legendary George Toma, who was scheduled to arrive on Maui last night and is expected to work on the field until game time, was hired after the turf was criticized by prep coaches and players after last weekend's preseason games.
Maui Parks and Recreation Director Floyd Miyazono yesterday said he has reassured the UH athletic department that the field will be ready for the game.
While the county has already stepped up its turf management program, Miyazono said, bringing in the 72-year-old Toma from Kansas City will ensure the field will be in tip-top shape.
"He's the sod king, the No. 1 expert in the nation,'' he said.
Following several high school football games last weekend, the War Memorial turf was bashed for being patchy and having bare spots. Miyazono said he went to the field himself and was surprised at its condition. A portion of the field was torn up for the installation of an irrigation line in June and has had difficulty recovering.
While upgrading the turf by Sept. 8 should ordinarily be no problem, he said, there's an additional challenge: A full slate of high school varsity and junior varsity games is scheduled this weekend and next, and the schools will not be asked to move their games.
Miyazono said his biggest nightmare is that weekend rains will conspire with prep games to turn the field into an unplayable quagmire. In a worst-case scenario, he said, the county would be willing to spend tens of thousands of dollars to bring in new sod for the game.
"We'll do whatever needs to be done,'' he said.
Toma, the head groundskeeper for 35 straight Super Bowls and 31 straight Pro Bowls, is being paid roughly $8,000 for 18 days, plus airfare and a room at the Maui Beach Hotel in Kahului.
Miyazono said it's a reasonable cost considering the valuable training Maui turf managers will receive.