Arkansas Picks Synthetic Turf For Stadium

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas officials have settled on an artificial surface to be installed in Reynolds Razorback Stadium for the upcoming football season.

Arkansas announced Tuesday that it has chosen turf manufacturer Sportexe to lay a playing surface known as PowerBlade HP 2.5 in the stadium by Aug. 1.

According to Sportexe's Web site, the PowerBlade HP 2.5 contains sand and rubber, looks and feels like real grass but is "designed to maximize player speed and performance."

Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long announced April 17 that the school had raised the estimated $1.1 million needed to install a synthetic playing surface in Reynolds Razorback Stadium. The project will be paid for by private donations to the Razorback Foundation.

Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino has said he's in favor of the stadium going from grass to artificial turf. Long — who was unavailable for comment on Tuesday — said in April that a synthetic playing surface could allow the stadium to be used for non-football related events.

The Razorbacks will be the first Southeastern Conference team to play on an artificial surface from Sportexe. However, the turf manufacturer has provided fields for the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans and M&T Bank Stadium, where the Baltimore Ravens play.

Three other NFL teams — the Buffalo Bills, New York Jets and San Francisco 49ers — have Sportexe surfaces in their practice facilities.

"We are enormously honored that the University of Arkansas has chosen Sportexe as the synthetic turf for Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium," Steve Noe, Sportexe's chief executive officer, said Tuesday in a statement released through Arkansas' athletic department.

"The entire Sportexe family is focused on producing and installing an outstanding playing surface for the university."

The Razorbacks will play their first game on the new surface when they host Georgia on Sept. 19. Arkansas opens the 2009 season against Missouri State on Sept. 5 in War Memorial Stadium, which has a different type of artificial turf.

Bulldozers began digging up the grass in Reynolds Razorback Stadium immediately after the Red-White Game ended on April 18. Arkansas-based general contractor KINCO Constructors was hired to work with university officials to select a turf manufacturer.

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