Corey King, left, and Conner Whitener, right, uses an air driven sewing machine to stitch together sections of AstroTurf during the installation of the new playing surface at University of West Football facility Friday morning Jan. 8, 2016.

Corey King, left, and Conner Whitener, right, uses an air driven sewing machine to stitch together sections of AstroTurf during the installation of the new playing surface at University of West Football facility Friday morning Jan. 8, 2016.

The next big element toward the University of West Florida’s inaugural football season will soon be marked off the checklist. The AstroTurf practice field, which is being handled by the Dalton, Ga. company that has installed a multitude of synthetic surfaces for college football programs, was installed and sewn together during the past week.

Final completion, including painting a logo and numbers, is set for the end of the month. The practice field location behind the UWF Aquatic Center will eventually include a training center building for coaches offices, weight room, meeting rooms and medical area.

The field completion is timed before national signing day (Feb. 3) and the Argos’ second recruiting class.

“It’s huge. It shows we are moving in the right direction,” said UWF football coach Pete Shinnick, who welcomed players this weekend in the first of four official recruiting visits for the month.

UWF assistant athletic director Tony Nguyen, who is the operations director, said the field project began early last summer with clearing of land.

“After they cleared the site, we contoured it,” he said. “Then we put in the underground infrastructure. The field has underground drainage… so it wasn’t as simple as leveling the land and putting turf on top.”

Workers spent the week installing mass rolls of AstroTurf, then sewing and sealing the mass strips. After that, Nuguyen said the surface will be filled with sand and rubber to become the turf padding.

“It was always the desire to have it done by signing day,” he said. “It was important to have something finished and ready to go for spring ball.

“It really all started about a month and a half ago when they put in the goal posts. At that point, you could see the field coming together.”

By having a synthetic turf field, it eases maintenance costs, Shinnick said and makes it far easier to practice during inclement weather.

“We had to do a Monday practice indoors (in fall) because the (grass) field was too wet. That won’t be a problem this year.”

The end zones will eventually be painted in a blue background. The midfield will have a large UWF Argo logo dominated in a green color.

AstroTurf Fields

Some colleges and NFL teams with AstroTurf brand synthetic turf fields:

  • St. Louis Rams (Edward Jones Dome)
  • University of Tennessee (indoor field)
  • Florida State (outdoor practice field)
  • Orlando Citrus Bowl Stadium
  • Oklahoma State (stadium and practice field)
  • Kansas State (Bill Snyder Stadium)
  • University of South Carolina (indoor practice field)

Article courtesy of Bill Vilona and USA Today High School Sports.