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Resurfacing UW field previews eventual RHS task

Jul 9, 2013 - By Craig Blumenshine, Staff Writer

Nothing lasts forever.

It seems like just yesterday that the natural grass at War Memorial Stadium on the campus of the University of Wyoming was replaced by a pro-style artificial surface.

Actually, it was 2005 when the new base and artificial surface debuted in Laramie. In the end zones were "Wyoming" and "Cowboys," and the field was renamed Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium to recognize the contributions of Mick and Susie McMurry, John and Mari Ann Martin and their families.

The McMurrys developed the famed Jonah gas field in Sublette County.

Artificial grass shows wear, and the 750,000 pounds of rubber used to hold down the surface and provide cushioning compacts over time.

The Riverton Wolverines played on the surface when they traveled to UW for football camp in both 2006 and 2007.

But it was out with the old and in with the new this summer in Laramie, and $500,000 in private funds was raised to replace the artificial turf with an up-to-date "FieldTurf Revolution" surface that is similar to the FieldTurf surfaces at the college football stadiums at Arizona, Illinois, Iowa, Louisville, Missouri, Nebraska, Oregon, Oregon State, Syracuse, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, USC, Washington, Washington State and Wisconsin.

We wanted to see the new surface first hand and had an opportunity a week ago Saturday on our way through Laramie.

Turns out the security at War Memorial Stadium is similar to that at Wolverine Field. There is none.

Just a sign that says the stadium is open during daylight hours. In other words, "Welcome, Cowboy fans!"

With smiles from ear to ear, we entered on a sunny Laramie day. There was one other guy there, jogging on the new field. While we were admiring the new surface (it feels softer than Wolverine field, even when it was new), a pair of students came on the field to toss a football around.

As we left, a runner, carrying what he said was a 50-70-pound backpack, was preparing to run up and down the stadium steps.

We'll publish a beautiful color picture of the new turf in Sunday's sports section.

The field's new features include the image of Wyoming's Teton Mountains in the end zones (somewhat unrecognizable at field level but easily seen from the stands), and on the sidelines is the lettering "7220 Feet" to welcome oxygen-deprived visitors and distinguish Wyoming as the highest-altitude Division I athletic program in the country.

Steamboat, Wyoming's famous bucking horse, still has his rightful place on the 50-yard line.

The new football surface at the University of Wyoming looks great.

Riverton will get new artificial turf, too, in about seven years depending on wear, according to Jeremy Hill, Riverton High School's activities director.

Hill says the school's maintenance department sets aside money each year to build up funds so that when the time comes, the field and track can be replaced.

Hill added that there has already been wear on the track, and a "patch piece" has been placed on the track although it is virtually unnoticeable.

On the soccer pitch, they say, "Got time." Over the next few years, it may be fun to consider what Riverton's "next" field may look like.

Have a great sports week. Go Big Red!

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