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Jeff Kolpack, Published September 05 2012

Glitch in new Fargodome turf has company in Fargo installing new surface

FARGO – The old Fargodome artificial turf lasted about a decade. The new stuff lasted about a month.

A problem with the underlayment of the new GameDay 3D system has the AstroTurf company in Fargo installing entirely new turf. The project is expected to last eight to 10 days and will be ready in plenty of time for North Dakota State’s Sept. 22 game against Prairie View A&M, said Fargodome general manager Rob Sobolik.

It’s possible the snafu could be a benefit for NDSU, which may look at buying the month-old turf for one of its practice fields, said athletic director Gene Taylor.

He said AstroTurf is putting together an estimate. Asked if the athletic department has funds available, Taylor said, “that’s the 10,000-or-whatever question. We have to figure that out.”

The turf would go in the eastern-most of the three grass practice fields. AstroTurf is currently testing the soil, Taylor said.

Meanwhile, Sobolik said AstroTurf has a double crew working 14 to 18 hours a day to correct the problem, a technical glitch to the underside of the surface that caused it to tear. There was no damage to the grass portion of the turf and was 100 percent safe when NDSU played Robert Morris last Saturday, Sobolik said.

Andy Belles, branch manager for AstroTurf, said the major sign of trouble came when more infill than usual fell off the turf when it was rolled up in the storage pit. The infill consists of tiny rubber pellets that give the surface its cushier feel.

AstroTurf is absorbing the entire cost of the installation, which is estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. The company will take the old surface and sell it as an outdoor surface only.

“This is a very highly specialized system that is custom built for each facility,” Belles said. “This one has a steeper angle going down in the pit, so it’s a little different, and that more or less caused the problem.”

The Fargodome contract with AstroTurf for the turf was $2.6 million, with the mechanical system being the biggest chunk at $1.4 million. Sobolik said there is no damage to the pit.

He said the timing of NDSU being on the road this weekend at Colorado State and having a bye the following week made this week the logical time to replace it. Belles said it took about a week for AstroTurf to manufacture the new turf, which will have the exact design as the old one.

The dome is scheduled for NDSU to practice on the new turf late next week. It will be rolled up for a show Sept. 16-18 and unveiled again for NDSU to practice on before the Prairie View game.

“It’s an inconvenience it happened,” Sobolik said, “but I’ve been so impressed by AstroTurf in how they’re doing this.”

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia

Kolpack is the host of the WDAY Golf Show Saturdays from 8-9 a.m. on 970-AM.