“This project is extremely important for Wayne State athletics to maintain a competitive balance within the Northern Sun Conference, and the Central Region, in regards to recruiting and overall facility standards,” remarked WSC Athletic Director Mike Powicki. “These facility upgrades will be a significant improvement and an incredible asset to Wildcat athletics, Wayne State College and the greater Wayne community.”
Currently, 12 of the 16 schools in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference and 13 of the 15 schools in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association, another conference that is in the Central Region that Wayne State competes in, also have field turf.
The current natural grass field surface is shared by Wayne State College and Wayne High School. Each year, the surface starts out the season plush and green but by season’s end is normally chewed up and down to bare spots in areas due to usage. Regularly scheduled football practice, marching band practice and intramural sports take place on other fields in order to keep the game field in good playing condition. Wayne State is expected to save money with the installation of field turf due to less watering, fertilization and other upkeep that comes to maintaining a natural grass surface.
Wayne State head football coach Dan McLaughlin said an artificial surface at Cunningham Field is vital for a number of reasons. “Late in the season, the condition of our field is torn to shreds exposing bare clay that is slick and unsafe which leads to player safety,” said McLaughlin. He added, “Recent studies have shown consistently that artificial surfaces are safer to play on than natural grass.”
McLaughlin added another factor in getting field turf is recruiting. “Most high school kids today play on artificial surfaces and they expect to do the same in college. Not having an artificial surface puts us behind when we recruit,” stated McLaughlin.
Dr. Ralph Barclay, retired WSC football coach and athletic renovation project chair, says the biggest advantage of field turf is its all-weather playability and being ready to play during the heaviest of rainfall. “I’m sure most ex-football players remember playing in the mud after the high school played in the rain the night before…no longer will there be a problem for the high school or college,” said Barclay. “Most of our conference schools have artificial turf as well as most of the colleges in Nebraska. We also plan to make the soccer field regulation size and LeRoy’s wonderful track is due for re-surfacing and that is in our plans.”
Along with a new artificial field turf at Cunningham Field, a new running surface is planned for the newly named Dr. LeRoy Simpson Track replacing the old surface that was installed in 2003.
The WSC Soccer Complex will also see several improvements involved in this project. The playing surface, which does not meet NCAA width requirements, will be widened and new bleachers will be installed on the opposite side of the field.
Plans call for construction crews to begin removing dirt from Cunningham Field in May, 2013 with the project scheduled for completion before the start of the 2013-14 school year.
For more information on the project and how to donate, go to: www.wscwildcats.com/turf