Artificial turf will be installed at David Smith Stadium at Ramer Field this fall, but not in time for the River Falls High School or UWRF football openers.
The replacement of the natural grass field with artificial turf began Wednesday, July 30, and isn’t expected to be completed until Oct. 1.
The installation of artificial turf at David Smith Stadium is being done in conjunction with the first phase of UWRF’s $63.5 million Falcon Center project. Funding for the project was approved by the state in Oct. 2013, and a groundbreaking ceremony was held May 2 but the actual start of the project was delayed until this week by what UWRF athletic director Roger Ternes described as “bureaucracy.”
“We did not get the notice to proceed until a week ago yesterday (July 24),” Ternes said. “We knew we had a contingency plan in place, but last Friday (July 25) was our drop dead date. If we did not move dirt by Aug. 4, we would not have been able to get the field in this fall.”
River Falls High School has had to move its home opener against New Richmond, scheduled for Aug. 22, to New Richmond, and is looking for a site to play its scheduled Sept. 12 home game against Eau Claire Memorial.
The UWRF football team has rescheduled its Sept. 13 home game against Simpson College (Iowa) to Simpson’s home field.
Ternes said he expects Ramer Field to be ready to host both the RFHS and UWRF Homecoming games scheduled for Oct. 3 and 4, respectively. He said delaying the installation of the artificial turf until after the football season would have had a domino effect on the rest of the Falcon Center project.
“It’s not as simple as waiting to put the turf in,” he said. “Then we can’t proceed with the rest of the project.”
See the Aug. 7 print edition of the River Falls Journal for more on this story.