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Thursday June 21, 2012Florida Field Undergoes a Facelift as New Playing Surface is Installed

Scott Carter
By SCOTT CARTER Senior Writer

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The renovations taking place at The Swamp this summer are not limited to the concourses.

They extend all the way down to Florida Field.

In fact, they go well below the field – about 6 to 8 inches to be precise.

Work has begun to remove the playing field and the top layer underneath the surface in preparation for the installation of a new field before the Gators’ season opener on Sept. 3 against Bowling Green.

The work is expected to be completed sometime next month.

“Every seven to 10 years you need to completely renovate a grass field,’’ said Chip Howard, UF’s senior associate athletics director of internal affairs. “Over the years of resodding and painting, the ground gets contaminated and the crown of the field gets thrown off a little bit just because of overuse.”

If you stop by Ben Hill Griffin Stadium this week you’ll see dump trucks and other machinery on the field instead of football players. Howard said after about two weeks of prep work that the new sod will be put in place in early July and fully established several weeks prior to the season opener.

The Gators are not only getting a new playing field but a new kind of turf. The Swamp’s playing surface has been a grass called Tifway 419 Bermuda for many years. The new turf is called Celebration Bermuda, a common grass used on athletic fields in warm climates.

The UF lacrosse stadium and soccer practice field is Celebration Bermuda and the turf has held up exceptionally well in the three years the facilities have been in use, including last summer when the Gators held the first couple of weeks of fall camp at Don Dizney Stadium.

Howard said when fans show up at The Swamp for the season opener in a couple of months they should be able to notice a difference.

“It’s going to obviously look new and nice when they show up but I think more importantly after the fourth or fifth game is when you’ll see the results,’’ Howard said. “It’s going to take the wear and tear better than the older type of grass we had in there before.”


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