Construction Work Has Begun To Replace FSU's Artificial Playing Surface

BIG RAPIDS - Ferris State University's Top Taggart Field will have a different look for the Bulldogs' 100th season of varsity competition this fall as construction recently began at the stadium to replace the school's outdated artificial playing surface.

Top Taggart Field
FSU's Top Taggart Field will have a new look as a turf replacement project is currently underway.

The Bulldogs' AstroTurf 12 playing surface, which was considered by experts as the highest quality turf on the market when it was installed in August of 1998, is presently in the process of being removed from the stadium and a new state-of-the-art playing surface like no other in the state of Michigan will take its place.

In late March, the Ferris State Board of Trustees approved a $1 million renovation to replace the aging playing surface. Top Taggart Field will be the first stadium in Michigan to have an Ecofill playing surface when the construction project is completed late this summer.

"The installation of this new style of turf will be a dramatic improvement to the Top Taggart Field facility," said FSU Athletics Director Tom Kirinovic. "Our players will really enjoy practicing and playing on this improved model of turf.

"For the fans, the new turf will give a fresh, modernized, pleasing look that will help to create a great atmosphere on game day," he added. "We are extremely pleased and thankful to the Board of Trustees for approving this significant investment to improve Top Taggart Field."

Ecofill is a product of Mondo, which has a long history of surfacing for track and field, but has recently expanded to include both soccer and football surfaces. The new synthetic surface will be similar to the field turf surfaces found at Michigan Stadium and Ford Field, but with a different fill than the rubber-and-sand mixture used in most field-turf type surfaces. The new artificial turf from Mondo uses a patented, factory-manufactured polyolefin-based granule for its infill instead of rubber.

The new surface is being installed by Kiefer Specialty Flooring of Lindenhurst, Ill. It features monofilament fiber to serve as the artificial blades of grass with an Ecofill base. The fiber is designed to withstand the normal wear and tear of years of use better than similar products on the market.

Ecofill was designed through extensive biomechanical research to reproduce all of the properties of natural grass without the problems associated with artificial fields made of reground tire pellets, a material that is commonly used by other artificial turf manufacturers. An environmentally-friendly material made from recycled content, Ecofill is virtually odor free, even in hot, humid conditions. It delivers the appropriate amount of shock absorption and energy return for optimal, natural field-like athletic performance. Ecofill also retains less heat than traditional black rubber granules, so it reduces the potential for athletic fatigue and dehydration and minimizes the need for fields to be watered down prior to use. It also is completely recyclable, which is an industry first.

Mondo is the global leader in the sports flooring market, manufacturing floor surfaces for virtually every sport. The company has more than 1,000 tracks installed worldwide. The official supplier of the athletic track and basketball and handball courts of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, Mondo also is the official supplier or official sponsor of more than 100 sports federations and associations. The company also supplies a wide variety of commercial flooring and is the world's largest producer of sports and toy balls with an average daily production of 450,000 units.

Top Taggart Field will be closed during the construction process, which also involves various seating and aesthetic improvements to the bleacher areas located near the FSU student section in the South endzone. Ferris has installed a live web camera of the ongoing replacement work in the third floor of the Wheeler Pavilion, which can be viewed online by clicking on the Top Taggart Field Turf Replacement banner found on the school's official athletics website at www.ferris.edu/sports.

In addition to the Top Taggart Field project, the university is also presently undergoing another major $3.3 million renovation project to the Ewigleben Ice Arena.

Top Taggart Field has been the home of the Ferris State football team since 1957. Officially dedicated in October of 1978, the stadium is centrally located on the FSU campus and features a current seating capacity of 6,200. The facility is also used extensively by individuals outside of the university community, including the Big Rapids High School football program. The field is named in honor of W.C. "Top" Taggart, a Big Rapids native and former Bulldog star halfback who became Ferris' first official varsity football coach in 1912. The $1.8 million state-of-the-art Wheeler Pavilion, a three-story building housing a clubroom level, media/game management level, ticket office and expanded restrooms along with a covered concession area, was added in 2001.

Ferris State will kickoff its 100th season Saturday, Aug. 30, against the Tiffin (Ohio) Dragons in a 2:30 p.m. (EDT) non-conference contest at Tiffin, Ohio. The Bulldogs' home opener on the new Ecofill surface is slated for Saturday, Sept. 13, against the Findlay Oilers with kickoff set for 7 p.m. (EDT) at Top Taggart Field.

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