The Finley Stadium turf is getting an upgrade.
Stadium Corp. executive director Paul Smith announced that the old turf, which has been at Finley Stadium for 11 years, will be taken up Monday and the installation of new turf will begin immediately.
The process will take about a month to complete and is expected to be ready for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's spring football game on April 18. The UTC football and women's soccer teams and the Chattanooga Football Club soccer team are the other primary users of the facility.
Smith said the warranty was for eight years, and that it's now "time to replace."
"With the ongoing concussion situations, it's an opportunity to improve player safety. Fields age and get hard," Smith said. "It will provide us with the versatility to attract other events."
It's a good time for the upgrade on the turf. Under the direction of coach Russ Huesman, the UTC football team went undefeated in Southern Conference play, won 10 games and advanced to the Football Championship Subdivision quarterfinals. In addition, the Chattanooga FC advanced to the National Premier Soccer League final, while the UTC soccer team is excited with the recent hiring of head coach Gavin McKinney.
"With the football team's success, it's the right thing to do," Smith said. "When (UTC athletic director) David Blackburn got here, we saw that the thing needed to be replaced, so we took an objective look at the turf, and it was past its life span, so the Stadium Corporation went out and raised the money."
Huesman said Thursday that the the new turf is "needed." According to the coach, there were holes underneath the turf, and the surface was uneven across the field. In addition, the field had to be painted "like 100 times."
Still, the Mocs are coming off back-to-back seasons with the top-ranked recruiting class in the FCS, so it's not as though the turf made that much of a difference.
"It was never a health issue, and nobody really noticed the field," Huesman said. "If you were watching from the stands, you would never know. Our stadium's better than anybody in our league, and we talked to our recruits coming in this season that we were getting new turf.
"Just having a new turf would be nice, and I think the look will be really nice."
Contact Gene Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.