Saturday, June 7, 2008

Field problems.

The construction in the north end zone continues, but IU's Memorial Stadium now requires a bunch of work before the Hoosiers can take the field on Labor Day weekend. As the Indianapolis Star and others reports, the torrential rains that have been hitting much of central Indiana somehow compromised the field and caused a sinkhole in the football field and various other damage to the rest of the field. IU's artificial turf field was installed in time for the 2003 season. IU played on the old-style artificial turf from the early 1970s through 1997. As was the trend then, IU went back to natural grass in 1998, but really could never get the field to drain properly or grow properly and aborted that experiment after five season. Somehow, I have retained from my sophomore year geology class that the part of southern Indiana where Bloomington is located is characterized by karst topography, which can be susceptible to sinkholes.
As the Hoosier Scoop notes, the resolution could be complicated because the company that installed IU's field is no longer in business (that doesn't mean there wouldn't be a successor-in-interest who would be on the hook for any defect in construction, but it's a complication nonetheless). But regardless of who pays for it, obviously IU needs to begin its efforts to repair the field or (more likely) install a new one before the season. Adding yet another wrinkle is a major event scheduled for early August in Bloomington. As part of its effort to attract a variety of musical and fine arts events to the city, Indianapolis secured a long-term commitment from the DCI Drum and Bugle Corps championships from August 7-9. While the Colts' new Lucas Oil Stadium will be the long-term host for the event, part of the deal was that Bloomington would host the 2008 competition if the new stadium were not ready in time. A few months ago, the city made clear that they could not guarantee that the new stadium would be ready, and so the event was moved to Bloomington. Now, IU is eight weeks out from that event with no usable football field. Not good.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

What's the current status of the Lucas Oil Stadium? Could they potentially beef up the work crews there to have that stadium ready for the DCI Finals, or is that a lost cause as well?

John M said...

The Colts play their first home preseason game on August 24. I think it's a pretty good chance that the stadium will be ready two weeks before that, but probably not a good enough chance to plan such a large event. I would guess that within a week or so IU will know whether it can get a new field in there by August 1. If IU started construction by mid june they should be ready for both DCI and fall practice.

Ashton said...

What a mess. A word on karst: there is at least one small cave in the neighborhood across the bypass just north of the stadium, so lots of groundwater is surely etching through limestone across north campus.

That said, the problem might be settling of fill under the field. It's safe to assume the field level is not the original surface pre-stadium construction, and whatever is under there might be mobile, given enough water infiltration. If so, karst may have nothing to do with it.

That said, I've often played football on less level surfaces than that, and I'm not nearly as tough as your standard scholarship football player! Call it home field advantage....

T-Mill said...

I beleive the stadium's first "official" events now are a series of High school football games whent he high school season starts on August 22nd. They are using them as a dual purpose "Let some kids have hte unique honor of opening the place/shakedown for the first Colts game." Unfortuantely that's still a little short for DCI. I am wondering if they will look toward Purdue as a third option if Lucas Oil and IU aren't ready to go.

John M said...

I would think Purdue would be an option, but the biggest problem is that marching band/DCI-type competitions are absolutely hell on grass fields. There have been many turf wars, no pun intended, between high school band directors and football coaches about use of the football field, and it's one of the reasons that high schools are increasingly tending to eat the up front cost of artificial fields. This is, if I recall correctly, a three day competition. In the heat of August, and let alone if it rains, it could do permanent damage to the turf at Ross-Ade. And that doesn't even cover the absence of permanent lights with no TV network to pay for hauling them in.

Anonymous said...

Anyone hear any updates from today's inspections? Are the damages extensive, or can they be corrected without too much drama?