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MARSHALL FOOTBALL: New turf’s benefits aren’t just looks alone

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — When the new artificial turf is placed at Marshall University’s Joan C. Edwards Stadium, the benefits will go beyond the cosmetic.

That field won’t just please student-athletes’ eyes. Athletic department officials said the new turf will please their knees, ankles and other body parts as well.

Marshall began tearing out the stadium’s nine-year-old turf on the Monday following the Thundering Herd football team’s Green-White spring game, said Scott Morehouse, Marshall’s associate athletic director for game operations and facilities. The new turf, AstroTurf GameDay Grass MT, should be done by June 8, he said. The Tarmac material around the field will be done between June 28 and July 5.

The total cost of the project is $750,000.

Tom Belmaggio, Marshall’s head athletic trainer, said the project should better save student-athletes from injury. The design of the new turf, plus the fact that it’s new, should cut down on players twisting knees and ankles with as much force as before.

“When we see lower extremity injuries, the athlete will say it felt like their foot got stuck,” Belmaggio said. “With the new turf, there’s going to be less of that. There will be less rotational force on the ankle, the knee, the hip, all way up to the back if you look at whole kinetic chain.”

Belmaggio added that the new turf also should help in cutting down on concussions. He said that was the case when Marshall installed the same turf at its new soccer stadium.

“When players dive to the ground for a play, it helps for that situation,” he said. “People think concussions just happen when athletes collide. Yes, they do happen then, but concussions also can occur when head hits the ground.”

The infill of the turf will be a rubber-sand combination, as it is with the turf that was installed at the soccer stadium and will be installed in Marshall’s new indoor athletic complex, Morehouse said. New technology should help it last longer as well. Morehouse said the polymers that make up the turf fibers are lasting longer and the sun won’t cause the fibers to deteriorate as quickly.

He added that it also should last longer because there won’t be as many feet treading upon it. The recently removed Edwards Stadium turf welcomed not just the football team, but the baseball team, women’s track team and both men’s and women’s soccer teams. The new soccer stadium, plus the new indoor facility, should reduce that impact.

“We hope it takes less wear and tear and hope to go nine, 10 or 11 years with the new turf,” Morehouse said. “The longer, the better for us.” The look of the turf won’t change much. Marshall’s block “M” logo, with “The Herd” stripped across it, will adorn midfield. The Conference USA logos will be the new red, white and blue version. Both will face the home sideline, but one will be on the west part of the field and one will be on the east part. There will be a slight color difference in the end zones, which will have “Marshall” spelled out in both. Morehouse said they’ll look a little more like Kelly green.

The trucks carrying that new turf should be at Marshall by May 19, Morehouse said, and everything right now is on schedule.

“We’re right where we need to be,” Morehouse said. “The timing is great, as long as we have decent weather.”

Belmaggio is happy that it won’t just look better, but feel better as well.

“To the sports medicine staff, we think this is great,” Belmaggio said. “It will add more of prevention component to treating injuries.”

Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at or 304-348-1712. His blog is at Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.

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