Mar 072005
Authors: Joelle Milholm

An unexpected rise in costs for materials has postponed the installment of a new artificial playing surface at Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium.

The turf was scheduled to be in place before the start of the 2005 season, but it will now be pushed back a year.

"We postponed it, we hope to get it done in the near future," said Gary Ozzello, associate athletics director. "The cost of materials, specifically concrete and steel, were much more expensive than we have thought. It is just postponed and we are looking to have it done in 2006."

The new artificial surface is one of many updates Hughes is undergoing thanks to a $15.2 million gift to the university in May 2003 by the Bohemian Foundation. Before the 2004 season, more than 4,000 permanent seats were added to the north end zone and two new scoreboards and a video replay board were added to Hughes.

During the off-season, construction crews have been working on renovations to the press box, Rams Horn premium club seating, 12 luxury suites, a new elevator service and two stairways. Concrete pillars have been built to help support the press box and steel will be erected this spring and summer.

"As with any project the magnitude of the stadium renovation, there are sometimes construction delays and changes in the costs for materials," said Director of Athletics Mark Driscoll in a press release.

Another factor that led to the postponement of the new artificial surface is concerns about whether CSU should abandon the natural surface on which it plays.

"This institution is well-grounded in its mission as one of the leading land-grant universities in the nation and a top agricultural program. We have had many discussions about whether we should keep the grass field or change to an artificial surface," Driscoll said in the release. "Given where we are with construction time and a funding shortfall, we will continue with our grass playing surface.'

The surface will continue to be maintained and Driscoll said that a tarp cover will be purchased to cover the field during inclement weather. Driscoll also announced that the athletic department will host an open house, including tours, at Hughes when the project is completed this summer.

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