Sometimes the Grass is Greener

July 19, 2004

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As the installation of a new playing surface inside the University of Iowa’s Indoor Practice Facility – “The Bubble” – hints, maybe the grass is really greener on the UI campus and as a member of the Iowa football program.

Keifer Specialty Flooring is currently in the process of installing its newest product – a darker-colored upgrade of the surface last installed on the UI campus inside the Kenyon Practice Facility – inside the indoor practice facility of the 2004 Outback Bowl champions. It is another indication of a strong commitment to the football program at the University of Iowa by both the University’s administration and a solid network of former Hawkeyes and fans of the Hawkeyes.

Like many peer institutions and professional sports franchises, the University of Iowa opted for Keifer’s “Prestige” product because it has proven to be a safer, more life-like artificial surface – a characteristic not lost on members of the UI staff.

“The new generation of turf is much better in reducing turf burns and abrasions as well as overuse chronic injuries that developed from the old style of turf,” said Russ Haynes, a long-time member of Iowa’s athletic training staff.

“The new generation of turf is much better in reducing turf burns and abrasions as well as overuse chronic injuries that developed from the old style of turf.”
Russ Haynes, a member of Iowa’s athletic training staff

Kirk Ferentz, Iowa’s head football coach, says the installation of the new surface is “the piece of the puzzle” from a facilities perspective. He also said it is further evidence of a “very impressive commitment by the University administration to continued improvement of our facilities.”

The upgrade inside Iowa’s indoor practice facility follows fast on the heels of the construction of the Kenyon Practice Facility, the construction of the Gerdin Athletic Learning Center, and the construction of a training table for use by Iowa’s talented student-athletes. It also comes at the very front end of a planned two-year $89 million renovation of historic Kinnick Stadium, the game-day home of the Hawkeyes.

Ferentz said the installation of the new surface in the Bubble will be felt year round. “It gives us a high-quality facility we can use for both bowl game preparations in December as well as winter workouts.”

Ferentz also noted the new turf will benefit a variety of UI sports teams including Iowa’s highly successful softball program and the UI’s student intramurals program.

A committee that included former Hawkeye football standouts Randy Duncan, Tim Dwight, Lon Olejniczak, Ed Podolak, Leven Weiss, and Casey Wiegmann have led the charge with personal donations to the project. Each have also actively solicited other former UI student-athletes in an effort to make installation of the new turf a reality.

The opportunity remains for former Hawkeye players as well as other Hawk fans who wish to contribute to this project. Andy Piro, associate director for development/athletics at the UI Foundation, said funding raising for the project is ongoing. Those wishing to receive more information about contributing to this project are encouraged to contact the I-Club at the UI Foundation at (319) 335-3305.

Installation of the new surface is slated for completion the week of July 19.