But there was nothing radical — at least not visually — in Wednesday’s highly anticipated unveiling of Byrd Stadium’s new artificial-turf football field, which turns out to be a traditional green rather than black, gray or slate, as Internet chatter suggested.
Paid for by private funds, the field features wildly colorful end zones that evoke the design of the Maryland state flag, underscoring the “Maryland Pride” theme that university officials have touted and incorporated into one much-discussed variation of the football team’s uniforms last season. But all the yardage in between is green — not black, blue or any signature hue.
What is innovative about the field, according to a university-issued news release, is a heat-reducing technology called CoolPlay that will keep the turf from heating up like artificial turf fields of past generations.
Known as a FieldTurf Revolution surface, it’s being billed as the “first-ever temperature-reducing surface,” capable of ratcheting down the heat compared with traditional artificial turf by 15 degrees Fahrenheit.
Maryland officials also cite a five-year study of college football published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine that concluded FieldTurf was safer than natural grass. That’s at odds, however, with the 2010 findings of the NFL’s Injury and Safety Panel, which found that the rate of anterior cruciate ligament injuries was 88 percent higher in games played on FieldTurf.
Moreover, Maryland officials say that the new field, which will host both football and men’s lacrosse, will protect the health of Terrapins student-athletes, help sway prospective recruits and save money on maintenance while creating opportunities to generate new revenue by hosting concerts, high school games and other events.
New revenue would be welcome. Facing a multimillion-dollar budget deficit in athletics, Maryland plans to cut eight of its 27 varsity sports on June 30. And unless its football team does better on the field (last year’s team finished 2-10) and at the gate, the university may face further cuts in the future.
The redesigned field is the latest effort by Maryland’s athletic department to jazz up its brand identity. Last August, officials staged a 30-minute fashion show to unveil a line of red, black, white and gold football jerseys and helmets designed by the Terrapins’ official outfitter, Under Armour, that can be mixed and matched in 16 combinations.
Earlier Wednesday, fans got their first look at draft renderings of new uniforms for the Maryland men’s basketball team. The proposed designs also incorporate the “Maryland Pride”state-flag motif. The program is expected to officially unveil the uniforms this fall.