IOWA CITY — Just two years after installing a $420,000 Revolution 360 artificial turf system inside Kinnick Stadium, the University of Iowa Athletics Department on Tuesday announced it’s replacing the turf and reviewing its field drainage system due to “flooding in and around the stadium last summer.”
The replacement project will nix the football program’s annual open spring practice this year, as athletics expects to start construction as soon as weather allows and it chooses a contractor for the review, according to a UI news release. The project is expected to extend through the summer.
UI is using FieldTurf USA, Inc. — which installed the turf in 2017 and holds a current contract — for the turf replacement work, officials said. They didn’t immediately provide The Gazette with a copy of the FieldTurf USA contract, details of whether they needed to bid that work, or a specific projected cost for the replacement and review project. But the university is submitting an insurance claim, and UI athletics spokesman Steve Roe said the design and construction department has a repairs and replacement budget associated with this loss of $716,000.
And Tuesday afternoon, the university posted an advertisement for bids to replace the subsurface “in preparation for new turf” in Kinnick Stadium — work projected to cost about $100,000.
UI two years ago, as part of an $89 million north end zone renovation, tore out its old Duraspine artificial field, which it installed in May 2009 to replace a grass field that had occupied Kinnick since 1986. The university replaced the 2009 turf with FieldTurf’s Revolution 360 system, costing about $420,000, despite numerous ongoing complaints against the Montreal-headquartered company.
Around the time of the Revolution 360 selection, more than a dozen lawsuits — including several seeking class-action status — had been filed against FieldTurf alleging fraud, although none in Iowa. UI officials in 2017 told The Gazette it wasn’t aware of a six-month investigation by NJ Advance Media in New Jersey that found FieldTurf marketed Duraspine as lasting more than 10 years even as the company knew the turf was falling apart.
FieldTurf executives cited intense sun exposure for some of the premature turf deterioration — apologizing specifically to schools in the south and west. Its website today suggests FieldTurf products could last 10, 11, 12, or even 13 years, with the industry standard at eight.
“FieldTurf’s attention to quality control allows us to boast the most number of fields which have outlasted their warranty,” according to the company’s website.
UI officials in a news release blamed the need to replace the Revolution 360 turf so soon on flooding from a rain event and not on problems with the turf itself.
Although the flood damage occurred nearly a year ago, UI Athletics Director Gary Barta said the affected area was “100 percent repaired and safe for play in 2018,” even though long-term replacement is necessary.
In lieu of the annual spring practice this year, Iowa athletics is offering a “Meet the Hawkeyes” autograph session in conjunction with Iowa baseball. That will involve “select members of the Hawkeye football program” on April 20, when Iowa’s baseball squad hosts Nebraska at 2:05 p.m.
The football program also will participate in a “spring practice Hawk Talk with Coach Ferentz,” featuring head coach Kirk Ferentz and radio announcer Gary Dolphin. The VUE rooftop at the Hilton Garden Inn in downtown Iowa City will host that event — as the VUE rooftop is taking over as permanent host of the weekly Hawk Talk radio show in the fall.
Additional details for both opportunities will be made available in the coming weeks at hawkeyesports.com.
The football team’s spring practice will begin as scheduled March 27 at its practice facilities, wrapping April 26.
“We explored options for a public practice at an alternate venue, but did not have a suitable option,” Barta said in a statement.
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