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The North Wind

The North Wind

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

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Worn Dome turf to be replaced

The Superior Dome has been open for nearly 18 years, and this summer the AstroTurf is being replaced for the first time at a cost of $1.8 million.

“We’re at a point in time where we have to make the move,” said Ken Godfrey, NMU athletic director.

The mechanism used to roll the turf across the field will be replaced as well. The machine, which now works only sporadically, will be replaced with a newer machine, which should more easily spread the turf across the field.

Funding for the turf will come from the Deferred Maintenance Reserves, which contains money put aside for areas of the university that may need updating. The decision to replace the turf has been under consideration for two to three years.

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“We knew that this was coming up,” said Gavin Leach, vice president of Finance and Administration. “We had hoped to delay it longer, but when the condition (of the turf) came to be such, this year, we had to move ahead.”

Leach recognized that while replacing the turf during a recession seemed unappealing, its condition made it necessary to do so as soon as possible.

“The timing isn’t good, but we’ve been having more and more problems with it,” Leach said, referring to the tears and limited resilience.

Also, the events held on and off the turf require that it be in good condition and removable in a timely manner. Such events bring much needed revenue to the university. Eventually, the new turf will pay for itself, Leach said.

The field is currently used by the football team, and other club and intramural sports with regularity, and on occasion it’s also used by the soccer team.

Northern’s turf is unique in that it is a single unit that stretches over a large area. Most professional and college fields use a zipper or Velcro system which allows multiple pieces of turf to fit together to form the field.

Godfrey said the system Northern uses is superior to the Velcro or zipper systems because it eliminates the possibility of uneven turf.

“It’s actually good as far as a safety factor because they’ll take another piece (of zipper turf) and put it next to (a separate piece) and zipper it together and then you get the seam which causes a lot of injuries,” Godfrey said.

Turf is expected to last approximately 10 years, but Northern has been able to extend the use of its turf to 18 years by monitoring what is allowed on the turf and only laying it out on the field when absolutely necessary. Rolling and unrolling the turf damages its quality quicker..

“It lasted a lot longer than we thought it would,” Godfrey said.

It is necessary, however, that the turf be replaced now because of wear to the material that is making it less resilient and more dangerous.

“Right now, (injury) hasn’t been an issue . but we are at a point where there are certain areas that are really hard, so that is another concern with concussions,” Godfrey said.

The new turf has longer faux grass blades, which will be easier on players’ knees and will not cause rug burns, as the current turf does.

Installation will begin near the end of June and should be finished by Aug. 1.

“I would say that anyone who is going to use the turf is going to be a lot happier with it,” Godfrey said.

Godfrey and Leach agreed that ideally the new turf will be usable for as long as the original.

“I hope it holds as long as the other one,” Godfrey said. “The old turf has been very good for us. It’s not like it’s been a terrible product or anything, but it would be nice to get another 18 years out of this.”

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