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It’s game day

By Staff | Aug 31, 2012

TIM VANLOO, ISU’s athletic field manager, said the turf at Jack Trice Stadium requires himself and eight others to keep in game-ready condition.



AMES – Maintaining a field before and after a Division I football game requires special equipment and attention. In the months leading up to the first game, Tim VanLoo uses a crew of eight Iowa State University turfgrass students to regularly fertilize, aerate, mow and water the Jack Trice Stadium field, practice football fields and a few other athletic fields.

VanLoo is ISU’s athletic field manager.

The football turf is much different than what one would find in most Iowa lawns, VanLoo said. The football turf grows over 12 to 14 inches of sand and has 4-inch drain tile spaced 20-feet apart. It’s all designed to withstand a thunderstorm without sustaining permanent damage.

SOIL?CORE?SAMPLES help VanLoo and his team to know what’s happening, or not happening, under the turf of ISU’s various athletic fields.

“It’s so we could play in the rain and not be a muddy mess,” VanLoo said. The field is designed to handle rains of up to 4 inches per hour.

After every home football game, no matter the hour the game finishes, VanLoo and his crew sweep up all loose grass and dirt clods with special equipment and water the field. Monday mornings are spent repairing each divot in the field with a screwdriver to level the field, in much the same way a golfer repairs a ball mark on a green.

“Every part of the surface that’s not level we level with screwdrivers,” he said. VanLoo also seeks out Cyclones’ head coach Paul Rhoads’ feedback. “I try to find coach after the game and ask him how it played,” he said.

In spite of what some fans claim through their message-board fodder, the stadium turf is consistently maintained at 1-inch high, VanLoo said. The turf is never raised for certain teams to slow down their team speed.

“There’s no truth to that,” VanLoo said. “We keep it all year long at 1 inch.

“Coach Rhoads, he likes the way the field is and I try to keep it as consistent as I can.”

The grass field was originally established in 1996 and was resurfaced again in 2008, VanLoo said. Don’t look for ISU to go away from a natural turf field as long as Rhoads is coach.

“Coach, he’s (playing) on grass as much as he can. He’s a proponent of turf for sure. It’s my job to never give him an excuse to go away from it,” VanLoo said.

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