NOTRE DAME — Goodbye patchy, slippery grass. Hello artificial turf.
Synthetic turf is coming to Notre Dame Stadium in time for the 2014 season, athletic director Jack Swarbrick announced on NBC Sports Network during the Blue-Gold Game on Saturday, April 12.
Swarbrick said the decision to install artificial turf boiled down to a "process of elimination" in realizing natural grass was no longer a feasible option in the stadium.
"We were spending a lot of time trying to find a grass answer," he said. "If we could, we would have figured out a way where we knew with commencement, with the construction that's going to go on here for three years — could we get ourselves into the position where we had a high-quality grass field week in and week out? And we just couldn't get ourselves there."
Swarbrick made the decision in February and spent the last few months moving through the various leadership channels in the university to get approval.
Installation will begin after commencement weekend, which runs May 16-18. The process is expected to be completed by Aug. 15. Though the intricacies of the field haven't been planned, Swarbrick doesn't foresee any major changes in the general design.
He said the fight to keep natural grass was "more of a personal preference than an athletic department preference," saying the grass was part of a "dynamic" at Notre Dame.
But the university had to replace the field four times last year. During the Blue-Gold Game, the grass was patchy, saturated and brown. Quarterback Everett Golson slipped at least twice during the scrimmage, and head coach Brian Kelly was relieved the change was coming.
"I think you look at the conditions of the field today, going out there and it's really about getting a surface where there's some consistency week in and week out for our players," Kelly said following the game. "I think today was an indication; we can't even practice out there."
Among FBS programs in the Midwest and Northeast, 37 of 47 of them use artificial turf. Notre Dame already uses FieldTurf fields at its LaBar Practice Complex and the indoor Loftus Sports Center.
FieldTurf will also be installed at Frank Eck Stadium, Notre Dame's home baseball facility.