Posted: June 6, 2008
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Set to enter its 21st season of hosting Lehigh Football games, Goodman Stadium is currently in the midst of a long-planned field maintenance project, with the entire playing surface being replaced along with the installment of an irrigation system. While Goodman Stadium is entering its 21st season, the actual grass in the natural bowl had been in place far longer and was in need of an upgrade.
"This project is part of our University's ongoing commitment to facility maintenance, and had been planned for some time,” Lehigh Dean of Athletics Joe Sterrett ’76 explained. “Goodman Stadium is a distinctive setting for football, however, the grass turf and subsurface had reached the end of a long (40 years-plus) life.”
He continued, “The availability of modern irrigation and drainage systems and the comparative durability of specialty athletic grasses will help to make the field one of the best natural fields anywhere."
Lehigh head coach Andy Coen offered his thoughts on the project. “I am very pleased with the upgrades we are being able to make to our surface in Goodman Stadium. I believe it really shows Lehigh's commitment to providing the best to its student athletes.”
He continued, “What we have been able to do is make the best venue in the Patriot League even better. I expect that when the project is completed we will have the best natural surface in the Northeast. Goodman has always provided a great environment for our players and now we will have a surface to match that.”
The field renovation project began on May 20, the day after Lehigh University’s commencement. The field was sprayed to kill off the existing turf and to allow a Koro machine, which strips off the grass and grinds several inches of soil, to perform more effectively. There were periods of rain during the first few days, which afforded the workers a chance to trench the main irrigation line from the well head down the grass bank for future connection to the irrigation system.
Dan Andrus serves as Operations Manager of the Lehigh University Branch for Brickman Group, one of the nation’s largest landscape design and build and horticultural service companies, and has had a major hand in the project. “The construction has been going very smooth so far,” Andrus said. “The field was completely stripped off by May 28 and following that, the first few inches of our profile were pushed into the middle of the field to be used at a later date.”
He continued, “The drains on the sidelines were then raised to meet the eventual one-percent grade on the field and topsoil was trucked in to begin raising the sidelines to meet the rest of the crown on the field. This subsurface was then roughly laser graded, with topsoil pushed back over, and laser graded once again. This process continued for another day or so in order to get an accurate grade.”
Andrus concluded, “Once the rough grade is completed, the irrigation and drainage slits will be trenched and backfilled with a silica sand. The finish grade will then be completed. The soil will be cleaned and allowed to settle for several days before selected varieties of Bluegrass sod are layed.”
Andrus said barring any unforeseen weather complications, the project should be completed by the middle of July.
Coen believes the upgrade will provide the Mountain Hawks with help in an additional area. “Every year we are able to attract quality recruits because they love the environment of Goodman Stadium; now they will also be able to play on one of the best grass surfaces in the country.”
Lehigh will open the 2008 season on its brand new playing surface on Saturday, September 6 when the Mountain Hawks play host to the Drake Bulldogs. Kick-off is set for 12:30.