In its attempt to upgrade all parts of its athletic program, the University of New England will install an artificial surface to be ready for next fall — with a twist. It will be blue.

Kim Allen, the athletic director at UNE, said the new turf field, which will include lights, will be used for field hockey and men’s and women’s lacrosse teams, as well as intramurals. As far as the color?

“It kind of just came up as we were preparing to make a decision about the turf field,” said Allen. “We are the Big Blue, the Nor’easters. And we were thinking about how great (the blue field) has been for Boise State. I think it’s really an excellent signature for our program.

“We’re trying to build our athletic program and this is something that is unique.”

According to UNE officials, UNE will join Boise State and New Haven as the only collegiate programs with a blue artificial turf.

The school has budgeted $1.5 million for the project. Any additional costs will require fundraising.

“This is important for our students,” said Allen. “Right now we have two grass fields and a softball field and we don’t have a space for intramurals. The intramurals are a huge piece of this. And there is also a weather issue in our area.”

The men’s and women’s soccer teams will use the field in inclement weather.

Joan Howard, the school’s former field hockey coach and now an assistant athletic director, said the field hockey program will benefit greatly from the turf field. “It really is a different game on turf,” said Howard. “And it should help our recruiting.”

The turf field is being built across the street from the main campus on Route 9, next to a residence hall currently under construction.

“It’s going to be a great addition,” said Howard. “And it’s a nice marketing thing too. If you see the field on TV, you’ll know it’s at UNE.”

 

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at: [email protected]