Crews work to install the new artificial turf at IWU's Wilder Field.
June 23, 2011
BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – Illinois Wesleyan’s Wilder Field is getting a new look with the installation of artificial turf. After 116 years of playing football on grass, the Titan football team will play their first game on the new turf at the season opener on Sept. 3.
New developments in artificial turf fields led University officials to explore the possibility of making the change, said Athletic Director Dennie Bridges. “In the last few years, as artificial turf fields evolved in quality and more schools were installing them, we started to consider turf for Illinois Wesleyan,” said Bridges. “Our first concern was the safety of the athletes, so a good deal of investigation went into that aspect of the changeover. All evidence now is that there is no difference in the safety of an artificial surface as opposed to grass.”
The new field will allow Wilder to become both a game field and a practice field for football, said Bridges. “There are so many more hours of use,” he added.
Football is not the only sport that will be positively affected by the installation of artificial turf at Wilder Field. “Women’s and men’s soccer will practice there often to lessen the stress on the grass soccer field. Softball and baseball will also be able to hold early spring workouts before their fields are ready for use,” said Bridges. “We will also hold intramural activities on the field.” Local groups will also have an opportunity to take advantage of the new field, said Bridges, making it another community resource, much like the Shirk Center and The Ames Library.
According to Bridges, the expanded use of Wilder Field’s artificial turf “will take lots of pressure off of the Activity Center in the Shirk Center, which benefits the entire student body looking for recreational space.”
An anonymous donation to the Transforming Lives campaign facilitated the field installation, which is estimated to cost between $950,000 and $1 million. The average field can last around 10 years. Several Illinois Wesleyan alumni and friends have already contributed to a replacement fund, which will cover the costs of a new turf when the current field wears out.
For additional information, contact the Office of University Communications at (309) 556-3181.