Turf replacement at Feix Field underway

Rolled up artificial turf sits on the field of Houchens Industries – L.T. Smith Stadium while the field is being resurfaced Tuesday, April 22, 2014, in Bowling Green, Ky. The turf replacement is expected to take six weeks to complete. (Mike Clark/Herald)

Kyle Williams

The WKU football team has a new coach, a new conference, and by the end of May, it will have a new, state-of-the-art field.

After six years of wear and tear from WKU’s football, track and soccer programs, Feix Field in Smith Stadium will undergo renovations done by FieldTurf, the same company that has recently laid down turf at Gillette Stadium for the NFL’s New England Patriots, and at Notre Dame Stadium at the University of Notre Dame.

The project will cost $500,000 and according to Director of Athletics Todd Stewart, player safety was the primary motive behind the project.

“Probably by the most conservative estimate, we maybe could have had one more year with the current field,” Stewart said. “To me, it just didn’t seem like it was worth the risk. Player safety is really our primary focus. So that coupled with the fact that we’re going into Conference USA this year. It just seemed like ‘let’s just do it now’ rather than wait a year.”

The project began on Monday by cutting Feix Field into 10-yard sections that were then rolled up and shipped to Dalton, Georgia where they would be recycled, according to Bryan Russell, director of Planning, Design and Construction at WKU.

“The new field will actually get laid on top of a prepared sub base,” Russell said. “Which is a field predominantly made out of gravel…then it’s laser-grated and is made into a very perfect, smooth surface. They actually will lay the new artificial turf field on top of this sub base and it gets seamed together. It’s actually almost like you’re seaming a carpet together.”

The field will look virtually the same, with the exception of the end zones, which will be filled in with black as a result of a fan voting opportunity in March, and the new Conference USA logos on either 25-yard line that will replace the previous Sun Belt Conference logo.

“We want people to go to the games first of all,” Stewart said. “But we want them to go to the games and feel like they are a part of what we’re doing. They’re not just guests, they’re like a partner. So anytime we can take fan input and incorporate that into the game day set up — whether it’s how the field looks or what we offer through concession stands. Obviously fan feedback is an important thing and hopefully they’ll be excited about what they see.”