Stadium will move to synthetic surface in 2015

Coach Mark Stoops confirmed on Thursday Kentucky’s plan to move to a synthetic surface at Commonwealth Stadium when the renovations are completed for the 2015 season.

“It looks like we will go to turf after this season,” he told a group of local media before running the Southeastern Conference Media Days gauntlet on Thursday.

“They’ve got to come in and put a bunch of cranes on there and tear up the field anyway, and we’ve been thinking about it. Our field, it’s been disappointing to me — our grounds crew does a phenomenal job, they work their tails off, they do an incredible job, but the fact of the matter is we can’t get on that field very much.”

Kentucky Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart hinted at the move away from grass while discussing the new football practice facility a few months ago.

He argued that it might be best for UK to install turf at the renovated stadium after a discussion with Stoops, who would like to start using that facility more to better prepare his teams to play there. Turf is less maintenance and suffers less wear and tear with the extra use.

“It might be in our best interest to be turf in the stadium, indoor turf and two grass practice fields,” Barnhart said. “It gives us lots of options in terms of practice.”

According to the UK athletics website, UK installed the stadium’s current Bermuda grass playing surface in 2005. It’s had several upgrades since the stadium opened.

If Kentucky were to move to a turf surface, it would be one of just five Southeastern Conference programs to do so. Other schools with synthetic surfaces include Arkansas, Ole Miss, Missouri and Vanderbilt.

The field at Florida State, where Stoops coached most recently, was Bermuda grass.

About Jennifer Smith

Jen Smith has been a sports writer at the Herald-Leader since 2000, covering everything from high school sports to auto racing to various University of Kentucky sports. A native of Louisville and a graduate of the University of Kentucky (much to the dismay of her Louisville graduate mother and Indiana graduate father), Jen now resides in downtown Lexington with her husband and two young sons. You can follow her on Twitter @jenheraldleader or send her an email at jsmith3@herald-leader.com.
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