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A turf first: Crews installing Axemen playing turf will make up the rules as they go along

Adam Barnhardt, spokesman for the Bemidji Axemen Indoor Football League team, inspects the new football turf that arrived at the Sanford Center on Monday. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer

BEMIDJI — Although they’ve yet to play a game, the new Bemidji Axemen IFL team is already bringing in the green to the Sanford Center.

Green turf, that is.

The team announced the turf’s arrival on social media Monday, posting a picture of a semi-trailer moving it into the Sanford Center’s storage space.

Workers will try to get the hang of the turf installation procedure as the Axemen themselves prepare for their first game during training camp at the John S. Glas Fieldhouse at BSU, Axemen spokesperson Adam Barnhardt said Tuesday. Sometime this week, the material will temporarily be installed in the Glas so the Axemen can get a feel for the new surface — literally.

During the week before the first Axemen game Feb. 7 against the Cedar Rapids Titans, crews will move the turf from the Glas back to the Sanford Center, this time putting it on the ice with a protective barrier between, Barnhardt said. The barrier is the same material that’s layered over the ice for concerts and other non-hockey events. Padding will also be put on the dasher boards, or temporary walls of the hockey rink, to cushion the impact for IFL players, and the glass atop the dasher boards will be removed.

A specific moving procedure hasn’t been established yet, so it’s unclear precisely how long it will take to move and install the turf, Barnhardt said. However, he estimated it would take five to six hours to take it out of storage and put it in the Glas.

When the turf is moved to the Sanford Center, crews will likely use a flatbed semitrailer to drive the turf into the arena and then use forklifts with special attachments to move it onto the floor, Barnhardt said.

The Axemen acquired the turf from a defunct IFL team in Ohio, Barnhardt said. They will refurbish and repaint the surface before the first game.

Barnhardt said the IFL regulation field is shorter than a conventional football field at 66 yards. Since the width of the field is 85 feet, that makes for 16,830 square feet of turf the work crews will have to move.

Zach Kayser
Zach Kayser covers local government and city issues for the Pioneer. He previously worked for the Wadena Pioneer Journal, and is an alumni of the University of Minnesota, Morris. 
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