BIDDEFORD – People know Boise State University for its famous blue artificial turf field, but the fame and publicity it has gained have influenced the University of New England to go blue as well.
Come Aug. 19, UNE will officially join Boise State and New Haven as the only NCAA teams in the country to have the blue turf installed.
According to UNE’s director of campus planning, Alan Thibeault, the $2 million project will become the new home for the university’s stick sport teams — lacrosse and field hockey.
Thibeault said the field will also be available to the soccer teams as a bad-weather option.
The men’s and women’s lacrosse teams will begin their seasons in the early spring, and for the first time, they won’t have to relocate practice because of poor field conditions.
Women’s lacrosse coach Sue Frost led the Nor’easters to eight wins at home last season, but they didn’t celebrate a victory on artificial turf.
This season, her squad will have to adjust to playing on an unfamiliar surface, but she said it will benefit her team in terms of practice and a sense of pride.
“Having a turf field will have a huge impact and should help us get out there as soon as possible,” Frost said. “There is so much more we can accomplish.”
The university will also add 522 bleacher seats, a press box and scoreboard to the project.
When snow is plowed on a natural grass surface, a thin layer of snow remains above the grass because the layer isn’t deep enough to plow. Once the layer melts, the surface becomes muddy and increases the risk of injury to athletes.
The snow on artificial turf can be plowed without making the surface unplayable because the material under a thin layer of snow is paved rubber.
Frost is optimistic about the inaugural season and said her team is eager for the day when members can say that blue is the color of their new home field.
“We will not have a losing season on that turf,” she said. “When we walk out there, it has a sense of pride. It is exciting. (The team) can’t wait to set foot on it.”
The Nor’easters’ men’s lacrosse coach, Jon Hunt, said his team is in the midst of a rebuilding season, but having the benefits of a turf field will make the rebuilding process easier.
“It’s the biggest piece of the puzzle for our program,” Hunt said. “Now we have a leg up on a lot of our opponents.”
UNE’s athletic director, Kim Allen, said the athletic department chose blue turf because it is a way for the university to grow and distinguish itself.
“We are very aware of Boise State. We are blue, we are the big blue, the Nor’easters,” Allen said. She said the university has been searching for ways to improve UNE’s athletic programs, and the turf is something students will embrace.
“This is just another step in a direction we have been trying to move in,” she said. “I think (students) are going to love it.”
Staff Writer Austin Pollack can be contacted at 791-6384 or at: