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UW-Whitewater stadium will get artificial turf

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Kevin Murphy/Special to the Gazette
April 17, 2008
— Perkins Stadium at UW-Whitewater will get a new artificial playing surface at no charge to taxpayers thanks to the UW Whitewater Foundation.

The State Building Commission accepted a land-use agreement Wednesday with the foundation that speeds up approval and allows the synthetic playing surface to be installed in time for the Warhawks’ Sept. 7 home opener.


UW-Whitewater students voted last fall to increase fees to pay at least part of the estimated $1.1 million cost to replace the facility’s grass field with artificial turf. However, the foundation, which last fall funded a hospitality pavilion at the stadium, came up with the money for the new surface, said David Miller, the UW System’s liaison to the commission.


“There’s a trend to moving to artificial turf at UW institutions because they yield better utilization,” Miller said.


UW-Whitewater Athletic Director Paul Plinske agreed. The grass at Perkins Stadium is severely worn after only nine or 10 games and is in its worst condition when the Warhawks play host to postseason games. The synthetic surface will act more like a gridiron, withstanding rain and cold that turned the grass field to mud, Plinske said.


With the new surface, Perkins Stadium will be in better shape to hold more high school football games, high school marching competitions, university football practices and student intramural and recreational sports, Plinske said.


The brand or type of surface will be selected during open bidding but is expected to have a useful life of eight to 10 years when used at a minimum of 12 hours a day, Plinske said.


Cost to maintain the field should be less than that for a natural surface because no watering or mowing is required, Plinske said. Although $1.1 million is budgeted for the project, bids might come in lower, Plinske said.


While athletes favored grass over the earlier types of artificial turf, newer products are designed to better resemble grass, a change that wins over some players, he said.


The new surface will have a traditional appearance and a Warhawks logo, but no decision has been made regarding special lettering or designs for the end zones, Plinske said.


Rep. Dean Kaufert, R-Neenah, who is also a commission member, asked Miller if the grass that the 2007 National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III champion Warhawks played on would be scooped up and sold as memorabilia.


“No. It will be mainly mud now,” Miller said.



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