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Regents approve $1.38 million field

The football team will play on artificial turf next season.
University Stadium field has been grass since 1958, when it was built, but will have artificial turf installed for the beginning of next season. This will cost UNM about $1 million, said Greg Archuleta, UNM Athletics media representative.

The money comes from a $1.38 million expenditure that was approved by the UNM Board of Regents April 5.

Head football coach Bob Davie said he is unsure whether the turf will give his team any sort of gain next year.

“We’re just trying to make a first down right now,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if we play in quicksand or if we play on concrete. We’re not even in the stage yet to worry about advantages or disadvantages.”

Only two teams in the MWC are from schools with grass fields for this upcoming season, and nearly every game on UNM’s 2012 schedule will be played on artificial turf, including its six home games.

The team has both artificial turf and grass practice fields, and Davie said the team can prepare on both surfaces, depending on where its next game is.

The turf takes about 12 weeks to install and UNM Athletics Director Paul Krebs said the field can be used for high school games as well, because it causes no wear and tear like a game on grass would.

Davie said there isn’t an advantage to playing on artificial turf, but his players seem to disagree.

Junior linebacker Dallas Bollema said the team will definitely enjoy playing on turf more.

“I feel a little faster on turf,” he said. “When we play away on other turf fields, we will be ready. It gives us an edge a little bit because it’s our home-field advantage and we will be used to it more over our opponents.”

Senior tight end Lucas Reed said he was excited about the change of surface when he found out last week. He said having both grass and artificial turf practice fields puts the team at an advantage.

“We have our indoor facility here, and that’s turf. We sometimes practice on that and we can gain an advantage using it,” he said. “Sometimes grass can be a little unpredictable and unreliable when there is weather, so this will help us, I think.”

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In 2010, the NFL’s Injury and Safety Panel did a study that showed anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries happened 88 percent more often when football was played on turf.

Reed said if you are prepared to play on turf, though, there shouldn’t be any more chance of injury than playing on grass.

“You do have a little bit more grip,” he said. “As long as you are cautious when you are running and you have your ankles taped and you are prepared for everything, you should be OK.”

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