Artificial change

New sports complex set to open in October, leaving future uncertain for Bennett Field

Kaiti Chritz | Photo Editor

Starting in October, the Central Michigan University soccer team will be taking a 100-foot walk from Bennett Field to the new artificial turf field.

The new field will be used for varsity soccer, varsity women’s lacrosse and club sports organizations. The biggest change will be the switch from real grass to lighted synthetic turf in the $8 million complex, which will also include locker rooms, concessions, coaching offices and a training room.

There are benefits to turf surfaces, like draining systems and consistency of field positions – especially in Michigan weather. Yet, turf surfaces have recently taken heat from newly crowned World Cup champions, the U.S. Women’s National Team.

In a question and answer session with ESPN, USA winger Sydney Leroux called the playing surface limiting to her decisions to slide tackle. She said she would rather keep herself injury-free by taking out an important aspect of the game.

But for the Chippewas, it’s a change worth getting excited about. Newly constructed stands and a press box look over the field with the action C decorating the midfield.

“I think it's an honor to be able to break in a new turf field and hopefully put some records up on the board before I graduate,” said junior goalkeeper Maddy Bunnell.

The fresh turf is nearly complete and ready for action, but the Chippewas leave memories made at Bennett behind.

”I would say in the fall of 2013 when Nikki Samuel scored the game-winning goal on senior day (is the most memorable),” said Head Coach Peter McGahey. “I thought that was a pretty special moment for us.”

After the construction is completed, Bennett Field may be finished with all competition, although the surrounding track will continue to be utilized. The field will still be used for practices when the new turf field is unavailable.

“They will be using this as a more true infield for track and field and there are some opportunities for other events,” said assistant director of competitive sports Scott George. “The challenge is that surface is very sensitive and cannot take much use, which is why it has been only used as a competition field up to this point.”

It is not known when the Chippewas will play their first game at the new field, but the team will begin a four-game homestand Oct. 2 against Miami (Ohio).