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The next time somebody takes the field at Rice-Eccles Stadium, they'll do it literally.
And then they'll bring back a new one.
Utah will rip out the old turf and install a new playing surface before it hosts Cal on Oct. 10, tweaking the design to include alternating shades of green, a red-bordered sideline and "UTES," instead of "UTAH," spelled out in the north end zone.
The school has also opted for FieldTurf's "CoolPlay" system, which stadium director Mark Burk said will lower the average temperature on the field 10 to 15 degrees on a hot summer day.
"Since we're replacing it, we decided to go with their latest technology," he said.
That wasn't the motivating factor, though. Rather, Utah felt after fall camp, Fan Fest and the Utes' opener against Michigan that the seventh-year field was "starting to get into that marginal area," Burk said.
It still met safety standards, he said, and Utah could have played on it this season and next, but maintenance was becoming an obstacle.
Said Burk: "The University administration, along with FieldTurf, determined it was in both's best interest to make a change."
Utah's soon-to-be-old field was installed in early 2009, after the Utes won the Sugar Bowl. That cost about $700,000, Burk said, and the new field will be cheaper.
The expected lifespan is 7-10 years.
It will differ from the 2009 field in six basic ways:
1 • The U. opted for a variegated look, similar to the coloring at Utah State's Maverik Stadium, with green and summer green alternating every five yards except in the 10 yards between the 45-yard lines.
2 • The north end zone will read "UTES" instead of "UTAH," a recent alteration to the design that eliminates the redundancy of the "UTAH" newly painted on the Einar Nielsen Fieldhouse roof.
3 • The field will be bordered in red instead of white, except in front of the team boxes (the space between the 25-yard lines), where it will remain white.
4 • The colors of the Pac-12 logos between the 20- and 30-yard lines will be reversed, so that red is the dominant color and white is the accent. "To make it a little more Utah-ish," Burk said.
5 • A layer of "CoolPlay" cork will sit atop the black crumb rubber infill, absorbing less of the sun's heat while still providing a cushion effect.
6 • Utah will play on FieldTurf's latest fiber technology, used by the Seattle Seahawks, New England Patriots, Notre Dame and Ohio State, among others.
A tentative plan called for Utah to begin removal of the old turf Wednesday, but rain Tuesday might delay work. Removal will take about four days.
Then they'll examine the base, and then they'll begin the 10-day installation, which, in a pinch, they can do in seven. The hope is to have it in place more than a week before the Bears visit.
The U. sold pieces of the previous field in a commemorative box, and licensing and marketing director Brett Eden said they plan to get pieces of this inaugural Pac-12 field into the retail market, too.
He's not sure how that'll look, though, and he's happy to hear your ideas at email@example.com.
The previous field was installed for about $1 million in 2002, and it taught Utah a valuable lesson. When then-MLS expansion team Real Salt Lake shared the space with U. and high school football, soccer lines were painted on the turf. The combination of high altitude, dryness and sunlight bakes the paint onto the fibers like ceramic, stadium director Mark Burk said. It was tough to get the paint off, and the process wore the field out ahead of schedule. "We'll never paint again," he said.