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Bloomington storms wreak havoc on IU football field

Friday, June 6, 2008

By MICHAEL MAROT

AP Sports Writer

BLOOMINGTON -- Indiana University's Memorial Stadium football field turf was severely damaged by heavy rain and strong winds this week and has been ruled unplayable.

Now it's a mad dash to get it fixed before Indiana's season-opener Aug. 30 against Western Kentucky.

"We're bringing in some turf specialists to see if it can be salvaged or whether it's totaled," Indiana athletic director Greenspan told The Associated Press on Friday. "We have to do this in about six or seven weeks, and it very well might be totaled. I've never seen anything like it."

The problems began Wednesday when the Bloomington area was hit with flash flooding, turning the football field, which rests beneath the parking lot level, into what some eyewitnesses described as a floating island of green turf.

When the water finally drained, a hole about 10 inches deep ran from the middle of the field, just inside the end line to the fence separating the field from fans.

That was only part of the problem.

Greenspan said the south end of the field, from the end zone to about the 30- or 40-yard line, was lumpy and he's still uncertain how much it will cost to fix. The estimate, Greenspan believes, could be $750,000 to $1 million.

"It needs considerable work, and we've got to get this done," he said.

The washed-out field comes as Greenspan and other IU officials prepare to defend the school next week against NCAA allegations that former men's basketball coach Kelvin Sampson made impermissible phone calls to recruits. A hearing on the matter is set for June 13 in Seattle and IU could be punished including losing additional basketball scholarships.

Finding a quick-fix for the field won't be easy, either.

Greenspan said it normally takes three to four weeks to install new turf, but the school must first determine whether it can be repaired or will need to be replaced. Then they must find a company available to do the job, and it could require additional work to smooth out the lumps -- all before Aug. 30.

"From start to finish, in my experience, it's usually been about four weeks," Greenspan said.

The damage is already causing scheduling conflicts.

Football players have been instructed not to practice on the field and this weekend's football camps are being moved to another venue. In August, before the Hoosiers' opener, Memorial Stadium is also scheduled to host the national drum and bugle corps competition.

Still, Greenspan believes it can be repaired before the Western Kentucky game.

"At worst, I think we have to do extensive repair or replace it," he said. "I don't know what it (the water damage) means to the resiliency of the field, the subsurface, how much has broken down underneath there, that sort of thing. We've got a guy coming in early next week and he'll give us his educated opinion."

For Greenspan, fixing the field has become priority No. 1.

"The closest thing I've seen to this was when I was out at Cal in '89 and they had the earthquake," he said. "The turf just kind of rode along like a wave. I've never seen water or the volume of water get underneath carpet like that and destroy the turf like that."



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