It is an exciting time for both Michigan State University fans and players alike as Spartan Stadium recently received a much-needed makeover to bring the facility and the school’s football program into the future. On April 15, work got underway to replace the playing surface at the stadium. The field, the track and everything else on the ground level got a complete overhaul. Everything from the subsoil lot is new for the new football season.
The Spartan field had been previously renovated in 2001, but it had not been revised since. After seeing all the technological needs that will become the wave of the future of athletics – as well as taking player safety into consideration – the athletic staff decided to move forward with a complete overhaul. Everything on the field level has been torn out as staff began turning toward the future.
Amy Fouty, assistant athletic director, has been paying attention to the technological needs the stadium may face in the years to come. She is excited about the addition of various information technology as well as television options that were added to the field during the renovation. Pathways and technology have been installed underground to better prepare the field for the technological future.
“We thought about future needs for sideline technology and installed the necessary infostructure to satisfy all future needs,” she said. “Replay technology for players, playbooks to be installed right on the sideline, runways for TV – we thought of it all. There are different types of cameras used for football broadcasting in the NFL that could be used in college ball. We are now ready for that kind of broadcasting technology.”
Player safety has always been a concern for the athletic staff at Spartan Stadium. The stadium has won two national awards in the past 15 years and the staff is proud to keep that award-winning tradition going by paying close attention to the needs of not only the staff but also the athletes. After some particularly bad weather over the winter, the decision was made to resod the entire field to make the playing surface as safe as possible for the players. All new soil has been added as well as new natural turf that has always been a point of pride at the stadium.
The surrounding community invests a substantial amount of pride in how the team performs, so investing in the safety of team members can only aid in the area of performance. The NFL has released several reports stating natural grass fields have fewer injuries than artificial turf fields. The athletic staff pored over these reports as well as interviewed various experts before continuing to commit to the school’s tradition of natural turf fields. The key is to keep the student-athletes as safe as possible so they can be comfortable to focus on their game rather than the surrounding field.
“Given Michigan State’s long tradition as an agricultural innovator and our world-class sports turf management academics, we’re very proud that this fall our student-athletes will compete on a natural grass surface that will be one of the finest athletic fields of its kind in the world,” said Athletic Director Bill Beekman. “We’ll be showcasing to hundreds of thousands of visitors the finest in turfgrass innovation and, for our student-athletes, the safest possible playing surface.”
The project was completed in early summer, and fans were able to see the new digs in person when the 2019 football season opened with a home game against the University of Tulsa on Aug. 30. Some of the funds for the project were donated by fans who contribute to the Spartan Fund, which supports athletics at the university. MSU alumni and Spartan fans are welcome to donate to Michigan State University athletics through the fund to keep the tradition of superior athletics, equipment and top-notch safety alive. For details, visit spartanfund.net.