EMORY, Va. - When game action returns to Nicewonder Field at Fred Selfe Athletic Stadium this fall, there will be a fresh new look thanks to a $400,000 upgrade to the playing surface that is currently underway.
In 2008, Emory & Henry switched from natural grass to FieldTurf as part of a multi-million dollar upgrade to the facility which also included an expanded press box, scoreboard and fencing. That same year, the stadium was renamed for longtime coach and athletics department employee Fred Selfe '69.
"The turf has lasted beyond its life expectancy of eight years," said Director of Athletics Anne Crutchfield. "After a review in the spring, we deemed that the best thing for player safety was to replace the surface."
Crutchfield pointed out that the field was starting to include sections that were completely worn out and patching them was not an option.
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This summer's project comes with an expanded life expectancy of 12-15 years.
The College uses the turf for practices and games in football and both men's and women's soccer. Also, baseball and softball use the facility to practice in the spring when their natural grass fields are unplayable. The College also uses it for rehearsals for the Emory & Henry Marching Band and various college functions.
This past year, the Abingdon High School soccer teams played all of their home games and Patrick Henry High School played some contests at E&H. Additionally, the College has hosted district and regional high school competition in football and soccer over the past several years.
"The new field turf provides us an opportunity to showcase our outstanding facilities and our beautiful campus," said Crutchfield.
The turf replacement got underway on May 13 and is expected to wrap up by the middle of June. The process includes the removal of the worn out turf, laser leveling the field, and installation of the new surface.
Visitors will also see new graphics on the field as the Department of Athletics shield and "E&H" will be at midfield along with the words "Emory & Henry" in both end zones. This improvement is part of an overall strategic plan for the Department of Athletics for upgrading many of the sports facilities in the coming years.
As part of the College's overall commitment to environmental sustainability, all of the rubber pellets removed from the old turf will be recycled.
FieldTurf is the worldwide leader in artificial turf with over 20,000 turf fields worldwide. Super Bowl XL and XLVI were played on FieldTurf, and 22 NFL teams have selected FieldTurf's cutting-edge synthetic turf technology for their stadiums or practice facilities.
Hundreds of NCAA teams and thousands of high schools across North America have done the same for their football, soccer, baseball and lacrosse teams.
Artificial turf costs are far different than those of natural grass. While upfront costs for the installation of synthetic turf are higher, significant maintenance savings occur over the life of the surface.