We knew a decision was coming as late as next month. Would Notre Dame opt for Field Turf or go through another expensive drainage project to keep the natural grass? During Saturday's Blue-Gold Game Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick announced the decision.
Field Turf will be installed for the upcoming 2014 football season.
Swarbrick was interviewed early during the spring game by NBC's Alex Flanagan and broke the news to the world. Here is the full statement from the University:
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Artificial turf is coming to Notre Dame Stadium, home field for the University of Notre Dame football program, in time for the 2014 season.
Installation of a FieldTurf surface will begin following the University's May 16-18 Commencement Weekend. A completion date of Aug. 15, 2014, is anticipated.
The addition of the artificial turf will provide greater consistency for the Irish squad, considering it already practices both outdoors and indoors on FieldTurf. In addition, annual Commencement events and impending Campus Crossroads Project construction make ongoing maintenance of a grass field more difficult.
"We had a strong predisposition to stay with a natural grass field," says Notre Dame vice president and director of athletics Jack Swarbrick. "However, the reality is that in two of the last three seasons since we moved Commencement to the Stadium we have been unable to produce an acceptable playing surface. That, combined with the likely impacts of future construction at the Stadium, led me to conclude that we would continue to struggle to maintain a grass field that meets the expectations of our student-athletes and fans as it relates to appearance, performance and safety.
"Synthetic turf will assist our game preparation because our team will be able to play and practice on the same surface. We will also be able to utilize the Notre Dame Stadium field for practices on home football Fridays and other occasions, whereas that is currently unrealistic. Additionally, this change allows us to eliminate the risk to players posed by the asphalt perimeter that has to be maintained around our current field."
Of NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision programs in the Midwest and Northeast portions of the United States (states of Nebraska and Kansas and east; states of Missouri, Kentucky and Virginia and north), 37 of those 47 stadiums (.787) feature some form of artificial turf. That number includes all 13 Mid-American Conference facilities and 10 of 14 Big Ten Conference fields (including Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio State and Wisconsin).
FieldTurf fields already are in use at Notre Dame at the LaBar Practice Complex (two practice fields used by the Notre Dame football squad), the Loftus Sports Center (a new football field was installed following the 2013 season in the Irish indoor football facility that's also used by other Notre Dame squads), Arlotta Stadium (for men's and women's lacrosse) and Stinson Rugby Field (dedicated last fall).
In addition, FieldTurf is currently being installed at Frank Eck Stadium, Notre Dame's home baseball facility.
RIP NATURAL GRASS. YOU WILL NOT BE MISSED.
Here's some more info on the changes...
Jack Swarbrick talked about possibility of outdoor hockey and possible concerts with new field. Look for full @NDfidm interview tonight.— Aaron Horvath (@NDSportsBlogger) April 12, 2014
Jack Swarbrick on the natural grass at the end of the Blue-Gold Game. pic.twitter.com/eUyLFYTorn— Observer Sports (@ObserverSports) April 12, 2014
Kelly: getting field turf is about getting consistency for our players. You saw it today - we can't even practice on that surface.— Irish Sports Daily (@ISDUpdate) April 12, 2014
Swarbrick also said that the condition of the field today is as good as #NotreDame could get it to look.— Andrew Owens (@BGI_AndrewOwens) April 12, 2014
Swarbrick said no decisions on field design have been made, but added: "I wouldn’t expect major changes." #NotreDame— Andrew Owens (@BGI_AndrewOwens) April 12, 2014
Swarbrick said #NotreDame replaced the field four times in 2013: After Commencment, again in July and twice during the football season.— Andrew Owens (@BGI_AndrewOwens) April 12, 2014
Swarbrick said it is actually cheaper now to install FieldTurf than to rebuild the grass surface. Was not the case a couple years ago.— Andrew Owens (@BGI_AndrewOwens) April 12, 2014
INTERVIEW WITH NOTRE DAME AD JACK SWARBRICK: