Byrd Stadium turf project to cost just more than $3 million

   Maryland’s innovative new football field — billed as the “coolest” synthetic turf field in the nation — carries a steep price tag.

 The total cost of the project is just more than $3 million, according to Nate Pine, Maryland’s deputy athletics director — nearly three times as much as standard synthetic playing fields. Of that total, however, roughly $1 million covers the installation of a stormwater management facility that complies with state regulations.

   The project, which coincides with the university’s decision to drop as many as eight varsity teams to address a multimillion-dollar deficit in athletics, is being funded by private donations. The university has declined to identify the source of the gift.

     “The turf is an important departmental initiative that some of our supporters have felt compelled to invest in for a number of reasons (revenue generation, school image, brand etc.), and directed their financial support accordingly,” Pine wrote in an e-mail exchange.

    Among the field’s notable features: A wildly colorful pattern in each end zone that evokes the design of Maryland’s state flag and a heat-reducing technology known as “CoolPlay” that’s reportedly can lower temperatures by as much as 15 degrees.

  Maryland officials hope that its eye-catching design and pioneering technology will raise football team’s profile and strengthen the Maryland brand. Ideally, the new field will help generate more revenue for the financially challenged department by luring high school all-star games and other events.

   Maryland fans will get a first look at the new field, which is being installed this summer, when the team stages a free public scrimmage Aug. 18 at 3 p.m. 

Liz Clarke currently covers the Washington Redskins for The Washington Post. She has also covered seven Olympic Games, two World Cups and written extensively about college sports, tennis and auto racing.

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