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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Aloha Stadium surface will be of NFL quality

Aloha Stadium's new carpet
Graphic: How FieldTurf works
Graphic: Three surfaces compared
Graphic: NFL playing surfaces over three decades
Graphic: How the new turf is installed

By Brandon Masuoka
Advertiser Staff Writer

The new FieldTurf at Aloha Stadium will have a similar feel and composition to the third-best rated field in the National Football League, according to a FieldTurf installation representative.

Workers lay the asphalt base in preparation for the FieldTurf playing surface at Aloha Stadium. Work is expected to be completed in late May.

Richard Ambo • The Honolulu Advertiser

"We're building this field to almost exactly the same specifications as the Seattle Seahawks' field," said Mark Ryan of FIELD turf Builders, LLC., the company that is installing FieldTurf at Aloha Stadium. "That's also a multiple venue field. They want to be able to play soccer on it as well."

The FieldTurf surface — in which blade-like material is placed over a sand-and-rubber base — will replace the stadium's AstroTurf. Crews are expected to lay the FieldTurf early next week, said Rob Gloeckner of FIELD turf Builders. The $1.3 million installation project is expected to be completed by the last week of May, Gloeckner said.

The National Football League Players Association ranked the FieldTurf at Seahawks Stadium as the third-best playing surface in the NFL. Players ranked 30 fields, with the natural grass surfaces at Tampa Bay and Arizona chosen Nos. 1 and 2, respectively.

"This is an unbelievable turf, probably the best in the league," Seattle Seahawks linebacker Chad Brown told USA Today. "I'm not as physically exhausted and sore like you would be from a typical game on other hard surfaces."

University of Hawai'i football coach June Jones has been a staunch advocate for a new playing surface at Aloha Stadium, saying that AstroTurf sometimes caused turf burns on his players. He said the Warriors shouldn't have to worry about abrasions on FieldTurf.

"I'm just happy that it's safer," Jones said. "We won't have the staph infections and we won't have the type of injuries we've been having. That's a positive for all the athletes."

Hawai'i receiver Ross Dickerson, who practiced on FieldTurf while at Saint Louis School, said it cushions better than AstroTurf.

"On FieldTurf, it's a lot softer when you get tackled," Dickerson said. "The turf at Aloha Stadium is kind of harsh when you land on it. You get a lot of (abrasions) and stuff."

AstroTurf might be a faster surface, but FieldTurf has more advantages, Dickerson said. Players can wear different types of shoes on FieldTurf without losing traction, he said.

"You can wear anything, turf shoes, cleats," Dickerson said.

Dickerson said he would rather play on natural grass, but he understood having a grass field would require a lot of maintenance.

"Grass is the ultimate, it's the best," Dickerson said. "But it's hard to keep up with."

Warrior running back Mike Bass said he's anxiously awaiting the new turf. Bass has often slipped while trying to make cuts on Aloha Stadium's AstroTurf.

"I never played on AstroTurf until I got here," Bass said. "It's a big difference playing on FieldTurf. I don't see myself slipping on that. I played on (FieldTurf) in Nevada, and BYU had it. I did pretty good in those games. I don't remember slipping in those games."

As for playing baseball on the surface, Ryan said FieldTurf lends itself to truer bounces because of the special layout.

"On some of the other turf products, depending on the way the turf is laid, it will roll one way or the other," Ryan said. "Especially in the outfield, if the ball bounces, it will curve. FieldTurf is made so it bounces true. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays are using it and they're very happy with it."

Ryan also said the composition of FieldTurf could create a cooler playing surface.

"It retains some moisture, which will dissipate the heat pretty quickly," Ryan said. "At most of the professional venues, they'll water the field a few hours before the event and it sets up nicely for keeping it cool. The evaporation process will suck the heat out of it."