A few months ago, Mitch Barnhart gave a hint about what was to come for Kentucky’s updated athletics facilities, including the $120 million renovation of Commonwealth Stadium.
“What we’ve come to do in our facilities is a pretty clean look that is a little edgy, that’s got an element of cool to it,” the Kentucky athletics director said. “Hopefully we’ve done that. There’s a bit of a traditional piece to it that I want to keep. I want to incorporate all of those things.”
All of those things are evident in the new turf field design for Commonwealth Stadium, which UK plans to unveil on Thursday. We got a sneak peek this morning:
The clean, classic design features the blue checkerboard “pattern of excellence” based on Secretariat’s silks in both end zones and team areas.
The pattern, based on Secretariat’s silks, has been a part of the UK football uniforms for the past five seasons. The painted end zones, which say “Kentucky” in block letters, were a regular request in the BBN First initiative from last summer where UK solicited feedback from fans about many athletics traditions.
The checkerboard pattern in the end zones was test for the final home game in 2014 and became part of the new field’s look, which was designed by UK athletics administrators as well as Coach Mark Stoops.
After its debut on the new Memorial Coliseum floor, the new UK logo is a part of the Commonwealth Stadium turf and extends 10 yards horizontally (the same as the previous logo) from one 45-yard line to the other.
The round SEC logos, a requirement for Southeastern Conference member teams, will be in their same place at the 25-yard line on each side of the field.
The new synthetic turf field is the UBU-Speed Series-S5-M, which is the same surface used in the 2013 and 2014 Super Bowls as well as the Pro Bowl. The new surface is being installed now with completion slated for July.
The new turf is being installed by Vescio’s SportsFields, the company of a former Kentucky player who was a member the UK Southeastern Conference championship and Peach Bowl team, Doug Vescio. The contract was won for $672,500.
The Cats play their season and home opener at the newly renovated Commonwealth Stadium on Sept. 5 versus Louisiana Lafayette.