Stadium will have one of the best 'carpets'

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:28 AM ET

Corey Ukroenz figures he'll be finished putting down the new artificial turf at TD Waterhouse Stadium in less than two weeks.

When he's done, he says the University of Western Ontario will have "one of the best surfaces in Canada."

Ukroenz, the man installing the turf for I.C. Improvements, began laying it last week. Strong winds and some heavy rain delayed the process somewhat, but he doesn't expect it to have a significant impact.

"We've been pushing as hard as we possibly can," he said. "We're doing the stitching process now, next is the inlay process with logos and numbers; from there we put in our end zone letters and then the infill."

Stitching is when the giant rolls of artificial turf are stitched together.

The turf is about as far from the previous flat Astroturf surface as one can get. The new surface at TD Waterhouse is rubber infill with fibres that resemble real grass.

It's safer for athletes and able to withstand the multi-use action the facility will get.

Some may be familiar with more recent artificial surfaces where running, tackling or kicking a ball kicks up a cloud of rubber. That rubber will still be present as infill, but Ukroenz doesn't want to see that splash.

"This is a little different, a different quality," Ukroenz said.

"Some surfaces have a different kind of rubber, the rubber that has a tendency to splash. In this turf, the density of the fibre and the type of rubber minimizes that splash.

"We don't like to see that splash on our field."

Ukroenz uses cryogenic rubber, rubber from old tires that's frozen at low temperatures and then shattered. It's then distributed into the fibres. Frozen rubber has less bounce, he said.

"If you look down on the turf, you see little bits of whitewall. People look at it and say 'what is that, seed?' No, it's bits of whitewall."

This surface does not require an under-padding. But since much of the old underpadding was still in good shape, the university decided to keep it. The new turf is being set down on top.

Ukroenz said the only real unexpected problem was a drainage issue around the outside of the field, especially on the sidelines.

"It's been haunting them for a long time. Whoever constructed the base before . . . it wasn't done properly. They've contracted me to tap into the pre-existing drain and to the outside perimeter. We've had a couple of downpours and from my viewing of it, the problem has been solved. In the end, they're really going to have a good field."

One major factor in putting in this type of surface at the stadium is to attract more soccer competitions. FIFA, the world's governing body for the sport, inspects fields and gives them a rating. The ratings regulate the type of competition a facility can host.

"It hasn't been determined yet if it's FIFA approved," Ukroenz said. "The test has to be done after the turf is done.

"The turf itself, the product, is FIFA approved but tests have to be done for compaction and stuff like that. They are shooting for a FIFA two-star rating. It won't be FIFA one-star because of football lines. A FIFA-recommended field doesn't have football lines."

Football fields are also too narrow. That doesn't mean high-quality soccer can't be played at Western, but events such as the Under-20 World Cup won't be held on the field.


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