Ronnie Mayers, director of athletics at Delta State University, said artificial turf is the direction most football programs are going today, and one reason the university made the switch was because of the weather the Delta has.
Mayers said all programs can use the field, and the new surface will provide teams with an opportunity to practice when the weather is bad.
“It’s also creating a lot of excitement in the community,” said Mayers.
Indeed, the new surface has drawn a lot of attention from the community since the project initially began in June.
Delta State Athletics announced the switch to artificial turf on June 12, and renovations began the following Monday.
Delta State selected Geo-Surfaces, Inc., a company based in Baton Rouge, La., for the overhaul.
The new field has sidewalks all around it. Geo-Surfaces also installed a smaller practice field for pregame warm-up and practice.
However, the use of artificial turf as a substitute for natural grass has raised several questions throughout the years, particularly in regard to player injury.
Injury-wise, Delta State University head football coach Todd Cooley said he doesn’t think the new surface will have a negative impact on players.
“In football, you will have injuries regardless,” said Cooley.
The field also features Mississippi's first patented GeoFlo shock pad and drainage system by Geo-Surfaces, Inc., which is designed to help minimize injuries as a result of the playing surface, while helping to assist drainage.
Delta State is now the fifth school in the Gulf South Conference to make the switch to a synthetic playing surface and the first collegiate client for Geo-Surfaces, Inc., in Mississippi.
Actually, Cooley said two Delta State football players were previously injured because of the old field’s soggy surface.
Cooley said when they chose the new surface an important component was that the company had a patented shock pad.
The patented shock pad system will be the same one used by the National Football League's Pro Bowl, NFL Challenge Field and the football practice field at Louisiana State University.
“I am of the belief if the surface is true and consistent, you can cut down on non-contact injuries,” said Cooley. “We feel good about this surface and what it will do for the program.”
As far as injuries go, Gerald Jordan, senior associate athletic director for Health and Sports Performance and athletic travel coordinator at Delta State, also said he doesn’t expect to see an increase in player injuries as a result of the new turf.
Both Cooley and Jordan pointed out that the types of injuries associated with artificial turf were back when companies used the old turf.
However, Jordan said the new field is different from old artificial turf.
“The current turf is more representative of natural grass,” said Jordan. “I don’t see any difference in injury trends.”
If anything, Jordan said players may experience a greater likelihood of getting turf burns.
However, Jordan did point out that turf burns can occur on natural grass, too. He said there’s just a little more likelihood of turf burns occurring as a result of artificial turf.
According to Jordan, the main drawback, though, is the new turf will absorb more heat giving it a higher surface temperature, which means when it’s really hot outside, the field will be a little hotter.
“There’s pros and cons to everything,” said Jordan. “The benefit is it’s a stable playing surface.”
Cooley said it will also help with recruitment and will provide a surface for teams to use when it’s rained a lot. He also added players can run on it, and softball and baseball players can hit ground balls on it.
“It’s a sheer surface,” said Cooley. “The draining system is amazing. It drains very fast. It’s a consistent turf. It’s a fast turf. It’s a good solid surface.”