Behind the Scenes: Athletic Field Maintenance

Evan Thue-

Have you ever been to a University of WisconsinStout football or soccer game and wondered how the field looks so nice? Stoutonia was able to interview Facility Manager Erik Johnson and ask him about all the preparations that go into keeping the fields in good condition.

The UWStout Grounds Department and the Recreation and Athletic Complex (RAC) share the responsibilities for maintenance and preparation of the athletic fields.

The Grounds Department handles the year-round maintenance tasks for the natural grass fields, while RAC handles much of the practice and game preparations and the seasonal maintenance on the turf football field.

The preparations for football games and soccer games aren’t exactly the same, since the soccer fields are natural grass and the football field is artificial turf.

“There is a maintenance schedule [for the soccer fields] that the grounds department follows that includes seeding, fertilizing, spraying for weeds, aerating, irrigation control, repairs and mowing, just to name a few,” said Johnson.

The RAC is also involved with preparing the soccer fields, as the staff paints the lines on the field about one or two times a week.

Johnson said that weather can be an issue for the soccer field because it isn’t artificial.

“There is not a lot we can do to prepare our natural grass soccer field for rain,” Johnson said. “We know the field has a limit of how much water it can hold before it becomes unplayable, and we need to adapt from there.”

The preparation of the artificial football field is a bit different.

“The RAC staff performs weekly sweeping of debris and walk-throughs of individual hash marks and seams. We also perform a twice-a-year grooming that de-compacts the infill and levels the field,” Johnson said.

Not only that, but they also bring in a professional company once a year to sanitize and  groom the football field, and repair any problems going on with the turf.

As for rain, it is almost a non-issue for the artificial turf, as it drains extremely well, so determining if the field is useable is never a daunting decision.