Almost three months still remain until the first Duck football game, but the turf at Autzen Stadium is ready to go.

NeXturf, the new artificial surface chosen by the Athletic Department in January, was laid in the stadium two weeks before the June 15 deadline, approximately one month after installation began.

John Norton, a project manager for Hunt/Wildish, the contractor for the stadium expansion, said work finished early because of the warm and dry spring weather Eugene has seen.

“It’s always good to be done a bit earlier,” he said.

Norton added that workers from Southwest Recreational Industries, Inc., the creators of the turf, were contracted to install the turf. He said this allowed for a more experienced set of workers.

The turf, which cost $1.35 million, is the fifth artificial surface in the 34-year history of Autzen Stadium. The traditional pattern of the alternating dark and light green color scheme every five yards will continue with the new turf.

Although Autzen is the first collegiate facility in the nation to install the turf, the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons use it in their training facility.

After the 2001-02 season, the turf will be removed and stored during construction of the seating expansion. Because of this, only yard lines, end lines and side lines will be inlaid on the turf before the upcoming season. After the expansion is completed in 2002, all markings will be permanently installed on the turf.

Norton said that although work on the turf is finished, there is still additional work to be done on the stadium. He said this involves site infrastructure, including placement of water, gas, irrigation, sewage and communication lines in a ring around the stadium.

Steve McBride, the assistant athletic director for internal operations, said the department paid Hunt/Wildish a fixed contract, so the early completion will not reduce the cost.

“They didn’t save us any money, anyway,” he said.

Dave Williford, the assistant athletic director for media services, said the next major project will be moving the scoreboard. Workers will move the board as one piece back 30 feet and raise it 30 feet, he said.

He added that it will be a tough job for workers, but it’s necessary to accommodate the addition of 12,000 new seats after the season, and spectators will see the difference.

“It won’t be something that people won’t notice,” he said.

Williford added that all work scheduled to be done on the stadium will be completed before the start of the season Sept. 1 when the Ducks play the University of Wisconsin.

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