CEDAR CITY — Southern Utah University's Eccles Coliseum is currently undergoing a facelift. Not the seating areas or surrounding areas, but the most important aspect of the football field of all: the playing surface.

The Thunderbirds are replacing the old grass surface with artificial turf and the project is rolling. The new surface will be Hellas MatrixTurf.

SUU began removing the old grass surface on June 15, one day after the opening ceremonies of the Utah Summer Games. The project entails not only removing the grass field, but three feet of soil underneath the field, then replacing that soil with layers of sheeting, dirt, gravel and the new playing surface.

The project is on track to be completed in time for the Thunderbirds' home opener against New Mexico Highlands on Sept. 15.

The decision to install synthetic turf was arrived at after long discussion and deliberation. Factors considered included the ability to host additional events, including high school playoff games, youth football games and additional summer games activities without a negative effect on the field.

Synthetic turf has also been proven to reduce ACL and concussion-type injuries, costs less to maintain than grass does, is perceived to enhance the game-day experience, and provides a better practice experience and will enhance recruiting as all of the teams on the Thunderbirds' 2012 road schedule play on artificial surfaces in their home stadiums.

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It will also be a boon to recruiting, as "recruits typically visit our campus in January, [and] the synthetic surface will be a key visual point of interest," SUU's head football coach, Ed Lamb says, adding "the fans will see a much cleaner, faster game."

"The primary factor behind the decision to install the synthetic surface is to provide a cold/wet weather practice surface," Lamb added. "Division I college football has become a year-round endeavor for the players. Our players want to work hard to be the best they can be. I'm really grateful to the University administration for supporting the team's ambitions.