CONWAY Coastal Carolina revealed Thursday that it could be moving closer to installing a synthetic playing surface inside its football stadium, and that’s not the only new athletics facility upgrade in discussion for the Chanticleers.
During the university’s Board of Trustees meeting early in the day, the athletics committee asked CCU president David DeCenzo and athletic director Hunter Yurachek to look further into whether the installation of the FieldTurf product somewhere on campus makes sense for the school.
Yurachek said later his preference would be to put FieldTurf inside Brooks Stadium, making the venue more of a multi-use facility that could be used for practices and other sporting events instead of just five to six home football games a year and CCU’s graduation ceremonies.
That said, nothing has formally been approved yet.
“Obviously, we had some significant rain during the preseason not only for football but for men’s and women’s soccer,” Yurachek said. “Now that we’ve added women’s lacrosse, we have roughly two and a half practice fields to share between those four sports because we don’t use the football stadium for any practices and rarely do we use the soccer stadium game field for any practices. So we’ve got four sports sharing two and a half fields. They’re not in great shape because we’ve had to practice on them when they’re wet. They’ve got significant divots, so we’re looking at the potential of adding an artificial surface. ... My preference would be that goes in Brooks Stadium because I think that changes that facility into more of a multi-use facility that we can bring multiple events to.”
The new CCU women’s lacrosse program will play its debut season in Brooks Stadium regardless this spring, but the addition of artificial turf would open the possibility of hosting intramural events, high school all-star and championship games and concerts. That installation process would take three to four months if the university decided to go ahead with it, Yurachek said.
“I think the Brooks Stadium piece really is the best avenue to go if you’re going to invest somewhere upwards of three-quarters of a million to a million dollars to install a turf field,” he said.
Yurachek also talked about the university’s other plans for athletics upgrades, including a new $2 million tennis facility across Highway 501 expected to be completed by the end of 2013 and discussion for future upgrades to the soccer facility.
The ongoing construction project to renovate and expand the Chants’ baseball and softball stadiums eliminates the section of tennis courts located beyond the fence of old Watson Stadium that was used by faculty, staff and students. Instead, the university plans to turn over the six courts near Adkins Field House that are currently used by the varsity teams for use by students and staff while building the new 12-court facility on land owned by the university on the other side of 501.
“You have to have 12 courts to host the Big South tennis championship or any NCAA events, so we can never host a championship event until we get the 12 courts. So it’s a need,” Yurachek said. “But it’s also a need of our faculty, staff and students to have a tennis complex they can play as well.”
Yurachek said the tennis complex project received preliminary approval Wednesday from the Joint Bond Review Committee in Columbia and will go before the Budget and Control Board next Tuesday. That would be the final step before drawing up construction documents and putting the project out to bid.
The soccer project, meanwhile, is merely a discussion at this point and would be at least five years or so down the road. With the CCU men’s soccer team building a national reputation and ranked No. 9 in the country by several polls this week, Yurachek said the plan is to continue to make modest upgrades where possible to the current field with hopes of eventually building a multi-purpose soccer and track complex on either the same site or in that area across from 501.
“We don’t have a great soccer facility right now -- that’s not a secret,” Yurachek said. “We’ve done some modifications with new goal boxes, new benches, power-washing the scoreboard, doing some landscaping. We’ve kind of remodeled the soccer locker room -- all Band-Aids for a soccer program that’s top-10 and deserves a much better facility. So we’re trying to enhance that facility and raise the funds necessary to create a facility that is more indicative of the quality of that program.”
As for the FieldTurf possibility, Yurachek said the university is encouraged by new advances in the product that help offset the heat issues that are often seen as a drawback to using such synthetic surfaces in the south.
“FieldTurf has partnered with Firestone and they’ve got the ‘EPIC System.’ It creates a retention pond underneath the surface, so all the storm water goes into the retention pond -- it can hold up to 300,000 gallons -- and what that does is it cools the turf from the bottom down and kind of sucks the heat from out of the field down into this water,” Yurachek said. “... I think that’s made it more conducive to install it in a southern climate like our own.”
Contact RYAN YOUNG at 626-0318.