After a long summer filled with internships, traveling, or just hanging out at home, I’m sure that your level of domesickness is currently at an all-time high. Luckily, there are only a few weeks left until the best time of the year rolls around yet again–Notre Dame football season in South Bend. However, you may notice that the football field looks a little bit different this year. If you haven’t yet heard, Notre Dame made the transition from a grass field to an artificial turf football field with an “ND” logo in the center. No, that “ND” definitely wasn’t there last time you were cheering on the Irish in the fall!
I know this might not sound like a big deal, at least I didn’t think it was at first, but this transition from grass to turf garnered both negative and positive reactions. Although the athletic department supported the new turf, some alumni believe that the Notre Dame grass field was one of many great football traditions that should have been preserved. Opinions aside, there was no denying the wear-and-tear the field underwent following one of the coldest football seasons in South Bend in 2013. I don’t know about you, but I certainly remember standing in the freshman student section and freezing as the temperature plummeted to 24 degrees during the Baylor University game back in November (this happened to be the coldest game since 1991 played in Notre Dame Stadium)!
This new FieldTurf stadium will not only look better aesthetically, but it will be both cheaper and easier for the university to upkeep. In addition, Notre Dame began selling small pieces of the old grass field for $149.95 back in May. It looks like this new field might just pay for itself soon enough!
Even better, the new artificial turf should provide more impact-resistance than a frozen natural field. The asphalt that once surrounded the grass field has been transformed into turf as well, which lowers the risk of injury even further for athletes.
Coach Brian Kelly explained that these new changes will allow the football team to practice on the playing field on Fridays before home games, which was not the case in seasons prior to this year. The team already practices on artificial turf in the indoor Loftus Sports Center and the outdoor LaBar Practice Complex, so it only makes sense that they would compete on a similar playing field. Hopefully this “practice where you compete” strategy will rack in more wins! Can you say two National Championship games in three years?!
Although this Notre Dame football tradition of a grass field has officially come to a close, despite some bitter alumni backlash, that doesn’t mean that Notre Dame football has lost all of its glory and tradition. Student cheers will continue, touchdown push-ups will remain, and we will forever and always be the Fighting Irish. It goes without saying that fields and stadiums may change over time, but the spirit of Notre Dame football will live on forever. Love thee, Notre Dame.