MILWAUKEE -- Marquette University's department of intercollegiate athletics announced Monday that the grass playing surface at Valley Fields, home to the Golden Eagles' NCAA Division I men's and women's soccer programs, will undergo its first major facelift since the facility opened in 1993.
Marquette has partnered with renowned athletic field and landscape contractor Bush Turf to replace the current grass field and underground irrigation system. The three-week project is scheduled to begin Tuesday.
"I am ecstatic for this project to begin and also for our student-athletes, the coaching staffs and our soccer supporters and fans," said Aaron Baker, assistant athletic director for facilities and event management. "I know our coaches are excited to have the opportunity to compete on a first-class pitch. Marquette will be playing on one of the finest fields in the country once the project is complete."
One of the most-respected athletic field contractors in the country, Bush Turf has recently completed similar projects at numerous colleges and universities, such as Notre Dame, and has installed fields at six Major League Baseball stadiums, including Miller Park (Milwaukee Brewers).
Most recently, Bush Turf was selected to convert Busch Stadium, home field of MLB's St. Louis Cardinals, into a soccer pitch for an exhibition match featuring Chelsea FC and Manchester City, two of the most storied clubs in the English Premier League. Other clients include TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Ill., host of the PGA Tour's annual John Deere Classic.
"We are thrilled to have a new grass field in place by this fall," said Markus Roeders, MU head women's soccer coach. "It will be absolutely fantastic and our thanks go out to Marquette and the administration for focusing on this project and making it become a reality. We will have the best of both worlds -- an elite-level grass stadium and a turf field for any needed practices."
Following the removal of Valley Fields' current grass surface and irrigation system, a new base will be installed using Bush Turf's industry-leading laser-grading equipment. Turf grids made from fiberglass fibers will be laid down to help stabilize sand and soil, as well as improve drainage and reduce divots. The finishing touch will be a professional-grade low mow Kentucky bluegrass sod.
The new grass playing surface at Valley Fields is scheduled to be completely installed by the end of June, and the field will be ready for competition by mid-July in preparation for the start of the MU men's and women's soccer seasons in August.
In addition to annual regular-season contests, Valley Fields has hosted a number of NCAA and BIG EAST Conference postseason tournament matches in recent years, as well as the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Finals in 2011.