March 28, 2007
Regents approve synthetic turf for Bearcat stadium
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Pictured above is an architect's rendering of the new field configuration at Bearcat Stadium as it will appear
following installation of synthetic turf. Note the new location of the long jump and triple jump areas in the lower
left (northwest) corner. The field is also being widened in order to accommodate soccer matches.
The Northwest Bearcats football team will likely play on synthetic turf next season following approval by the University's Board of Regents Wednesday, March 28, of a staff proposal for $1.5 million in improvements to Bearcat Stadium.
Dr. Bob Boerigter, Northwest's director of athletics, said money for the upgrade, which includes stadium lights, relocation of several field events (long jump, triple jump and javelin throw) and a new storm-water pumping system, will come from donations by University alumni and friends through the Northwest Foundation.
Boerigter told the board switching to synthetic turf and adding lights will allow the University to open the field to a variety of activities year-round rather than restricting its use to a handful of practice sessions and Saturday afternoon football games.
In addition to spring football practice, a new turf configuration will allow the facility to be used as a soccer field and for activities such as baseball infield practice, softball practice, intramural competition, physical education classes, marching band practice and contests, high school competitions, summer athletic camp activities and speakers and concerts.
New-generation synthetic turf is far superior to the carpet-like artificial grass installed a generation ago at such venues as the Astrodome, Boerigter said, and is the choice of most professional football organizations and a growing number of colleges and universities.
Currently only three schools in the MIAA, the intercollegiate athletic conference of which Northwest is a member, play on real grass: Southwest Baptist University, Northwest and Truman State University, which is seriously considering a switch to synthetic as well.
That means, Boerigter said, that in 2007 the Bearcats could play a single football game on real turf -- the annual Fall Classic against the Pittsburg State Gorillas at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City.
Lighting, absent from Bearcat Stadium since the 1970s energy crisis, will add still more flexibility, and means the facility could theoretically see use anytime during the day or night. This will give coaches and other activity managers considerable leeway in terms of starting times and allow more elastic scheduling during Homecoming and other events.
In other business, the board approved the sale of the so-called AC Lightning Building at 2100 E. First Street in Maryville. The building was purchased by the University for $425,000 in January 2005 when Ventria Bioscience was expected to become the first tenant of Northwest's Center of Excellence for Plant Biologics. Ventria has since moved to Junction City, Kan.
According to Vice President for Finance and Support Services Ray Courter, a buyer has made an acceptable offer on the property that will allow Northwest to recoup several thousand dollars spent on improvements. The proposed sale must still receive final approval from the Missouri General Assembly.
Also given a green light by the board was a staff proposal for a new master of science degree in higher education leadership, a program designed to train professionals for entry-level management and leadership roles in higher education. A battery of five new core courses would be taught by an "active learning" team consisting of an instructor and a working higher education professional. The new degree must still be approved by the state Coordinating Board for Higher Education.
A second curriculum addition OK'd by the regents is an undergraduate minor in precision agriculture, an umbrella term for a range of technologies currently revolutionizing the way producers maintain fields and grow crops.
Precision agriculture exploits computer-driven global positioning and geographic information systems in ways that allow farmers to analyze data and make precise determinations affecting everything from soil quality and insect control to environmental sustainability.
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