HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Juniata College will install a synthetic turf playing surface at Knox Stadium in time for the start of the 2012-13 academic year, under a plan approved by Juniata's Board of Trustees at its February meeting.
The $1.2 million project will provide an immediate competitive boost to football and field hockey, two of Juniata's largest roster sports, giving those teams a high-quality surface on which to train and play. The installation of a synthetic turf surface will also improve Juniata's ability to host championship play in the sport of field hockey.
The field will also provide inclement weather practice space for several other Juniata varsity teams and have potential intramural and club sport use.
"The new synthetic turf surface at Knox Stadium will make an immediate impact on the success and experiences of our athletic programs, our student-athletes, the college's enrollment efforts, and on the entire Juniata community," said Juniata athletics director Greg Curley. "Not only will turf provide our football and field hockey programs a first class state-of-the-art training and competition surface, it allows us to maximize our facilities and resources for the benefit of our entire athletic department."
"This decision reflects Juniata's commitment to the quality of the student-athlete experience and the success of our athletic programs," said Curley.
The project will be funded entirely with private gifts, with half of the project funds coming from the estate of the late David K. Goodman '74, who was a Juniata trustee at the time of his passing. Trustee and immediate past chair of the board, Dave Andrews '75, will lead the effort to raise funds to complete the field.
Upon completion, the field will be named Goodman Field at Knox Stadium in Mr. Goodman's honor.
"The turf field at Knox Stadium will enhance the Juniata athletic experience, allowing us to maximize our student-athletes' athletic opportunities and provide us the resource to maximize their potential," said Juniata head football coach Tim Launtz '80. "This upgrade goes hand-in-hand with the positive academic opportunities and experience Juniata provides, and allows our student-athletes an academic and athletic experience that is meaningful and rewarding."
"Aesthetics are very important on any college campus, and while Knox is very well kept, a turf field will enhance that side of campus and its appearance. It will be a positive for the improvement of campus, athletic facilities and athletic programs," said Launtz.
Planning and specifications for the project have been completed by the landscape architecture and engineering firm of Derck & Edson Associates from Lititz, Pa., and the project is currently being bid. Work is expected to begin on May 14, with a target completion date of August 27.
Derck & Edson has been involved with the planning and design of synthetic turf and athletics facility projects at Washington College (Md.), Dickinson College, Elizabethtown College, Susquehanna University, and Lebanon Valley College, as well as current stadium projects at McDaniel College and Upper Iowa University.
The exact synthetic turf product has not been selected, but specifications call for a dual-fiber system that will support multiple sport use. Members of the coaching staff from football, field hockey, and soccer visited venues in the Cleveland, Ohio, area where similar dual-fiber products had been installed, including John Carroll University's Don Shula Stadium, and came away impressed with the installations.
"The addition of this turf field to campus is going to be felt positively for so many, and the proof will be seen in the coming years," said Juniata head field hockey coach Caroline Gillich. "I am confident that this turf will help us achieve a higher level of sustained success. We will now be able to practice and compete at home, on a consistent surface that allows us to execute at a speed and level that is nearly impossible to attain on grass. Turf is a game changer."
"I want to thank all the supporters that are making this possible. This is truly a dream coming true for field hockey alums, current players and recruits," added Gillich.
As part of the project., the javelin runway at Oller Track will be relocated to the East intramural fields. A new site perimeter fence will also be installed around the stadium site during the course of construction.
Juniata opens its 2012 football season on September 1 at Thiel College, with the home opener slated for Saturday, Sept. 8, against Dickinson College.
The Eagle field hockey squad will begin its 2012 season on August 31 at the Stevens Institute of Technology Tournament in Hoboken, N.J., with the team's debut on the new synthetic turf scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 5, against Elizabethtown College.