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A Field(Turf) of dreams for BSU

MONTE DRAPER | BEMIDJI PIONEER Aaron Hendren and Brian Hendren of Cobalt Construction of St. Paul, dig Monday to find electrical and water lines at Chet Anderson Stadium at Bemidji State University before the old grass surface is torn out starting Tuesday to make room for a new FielfTurf, multi-use complex for football and soccer.

BEMIDJI -- Phase one of the Chet Anderson Stadium's facelift is starting.

Work began Monday on the 74-year-old Bemidji State football stadium, where workers prepared to rip up the current natural grass and install a new synthetic playing surface -- FieldTurf Revolution.

It's all part of an ambitious multi-phase project that will, down the road, also renovate the stadium's bleachers and press box.

The current phase of the project, however, is all about the playing surface. And according to Bill Maki, BSU's vice president for finance and administration, the new turf should be ready for play by the end of August.

"The site preparation will probably take the whole month," Maki said last week. "Then turf installation itself is scheduled to begin in August.

"It's all going to happen fast."

The budget for this phase of the project is about $1.3 million. In addition to the FieldTurf, crews will be installing a new entry plaza as well as improving the drainage system on the field.

Maki said the university awarded contracts for site preparation in June and awarded the bid for the turf last week.

"We got input from all the coaches and from the athletic department so we knew what the best options were," Maki said. "We were looking to get the best value for what we chose from both a monetary and competitive standpoint. And talking to the coaches, they especially liked this one."

FieldTurf Revolution is currently in use at the University of Minnesota's Gibson-Nagurski football practice facility and has been installed at Seattle's CenturyLink Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks. Augusburg College in Minneapolis is also in the process of installing the turf.

Chet Anderson Stadium currently hosts Bemidji State football games and is also the home field for the Bemidji High School team.

It will also get a new tenant as part of the rebuilding process: the Beaver women's soccer team.

Part of the plan for the new turf is to make the stadium compatible for soccer games. The BSU women currently play at the natural-grass BSU soccer complex near the football practice field.

However, there's a tradeoff for the soccer field: The outdoor track will not be replaced.

"We had to remove the track as part of the plan to get the soccer field in there," Maki said. "We couldn't do both."

The first event scheduled for the stadium is the Bemidji High School home opener Sept. 6 against Sauk Rapids. The BSU home opener is Sept. 14 against Concordia-St. Paul.

If all goes well, the turf will be ready for play by then.

"It's going to be a big lift to our whole athletic program," Maki said.

Those who wish to watch the installation in action can follow the process all summer online

Jack Hittinger
Jack Hittinger is the sports editor of the Bemidji Pioneer. He is also the Bemidji State beat writer. He hails from the Great State of Michigan. Read his Bemidji State blog at and follow him on Twitter at @Jackhitts.
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