Woodward Field’s red artificial turf diagram.

Synthetic turf surfaces have evolved considerably since the first fields were installed in the ’60s, and sports field managers now have many options when it comes to selecting the perfect system for their fields. I recently heard of a school taking customized turf to the next level by installing a red synthetic system on their football field. Thanks to a generous donation from alumnus Michael Roos of the Tennessee Titans, Eastern Washington University (EWU) plans to install a red synthetic field at Woodward Field, Cheney, Wash. EWU hopes the field will set it apart from other NCAA Division I schools and bring more exposure to its football program. The school hopes to have the project funded and completed before the start of the 2010 season.

While certainly a creative concept, EWU is not the first school to take this unique approach to synthetic turf installation. Bronco Stadium, the Boise State University football stadium, is home to the only blue AstroTurf in the world, a now-iconic symbol of the university. The stadium’s infamous “Smurf Turf” was initially installed in 1986 (reinstalled in 1995 and 2002), making Boise State the first school to have an entire field produced in their school’s color. In 2008, Division II University of New Haven installed a blue surface at their home field, Ralph F. DellaCamera Stadium, prompting Boise State to file for federal registration of a bluecolored turf trademark.

The NCAA has no provision regulating the color of playing surfaces, though this may need to be addressed if more schools seek out the publicity these custom colors have brought to Boise State and the University of New Haven. For now, it seems the custom options available in synthetic turf selection are limited only by budget and imagination.

For more on synthetic turf selection and trends, see page 8.

Katie Meyers