Its a Beautiful Day...for U2
On Sunday, Spartan Stadium will host one of the biggest rock tours in history when U2 brings its 360 tour to campus.
But while every one around East Lansing searches for their old Joshua Tree t-shirt, Michigan State is getting ready for what comes after the show leaves town - a new field at Spartan Stadium.
On Monday, Michigan State Deputy Athletics Director Greg Ianni and Sports Turf Manager Amy Fouty sat down briefly with media to discuss details of the project. According to Ianni, it will be the biggest challenge since the stadium hosted the Cold War in 2001.
It is the biggest concert event to take place in Spartan Stadium since The Rolling Stones in 1994.
"(The current field at Spartan Stadium) has been a great field," Ianni said. "Three years ago, it was voted the best grass field in the country. It's going to take us a couple of seasons to get it back (to great). Next year we will have a good field, the year after we will have a very good field. And in year three we will have an excellent field.
"That being said, a 'good' field at Michigan State is probably better than 95 percent of the fields in the country. The field we are taking out is so good that people are coming in from all over the country to take a look at it to see what we do.
"Our biggest concern is if we have to play one or more games in a significant rain event like we had two years ago against Florida Atlantic. We will be watching he weather a little closer this fall than in the past. I am not concerned about the play-ability; I just want it to be the best."
The cost of replacing Michigan State's football field will be $253,000 and will be paid for by U2. The 360° Tour was designed to visit stadiums worldwide and features a massive four-legged supporting rig that has been nicknamed "The Claw". "The Claw" set a world record for the largest concert stage structure. Many stadiums along the tour have had to replace the sod/turf following the concert including Oklahoma University and North Carolina State University, both of whom hosted U2 and had the onus of replacing their fields mid-season.
U2's 360° Tour will begin at 7 p.m Sunday, June 26. The concert was rescheduled from June 30, 2010 due to lead singer Bono's emergency back surgery. More than 60,000 visitors are expected in the East Lansing area for the event. The postponement of the tour directly affected the turfgrass plan for Spartan Stadium's new field, but Fouty explained that the field quality was not negatively affected. The turf was maintained over the last year just as it would have been had it been on campus.
The new field will be fully installed by the third week in July and will be fully ready for gameplay by the beginning of the 2011 football season. The Spartans first game is Friday night, September 2 against Youngstown State. The only thing that Fouty said they cannot control, would be damage due to extreme weather/extreme amounts of rain this fall. The new field itself will take three years to fully mature. Still, Ianni insisted that MSU will have a good field this year and return to having a 'great field' in the coming years.
The sod itself will be transported to East Lansing via a caravan of refrigerated trucks traveling from Colorado - where the turf has been growing for over a year. The trip will be a full 24-hour drive from the Rockies to campus.
In order to fit "The Claw" stage into Spartan Stadium, four panels that help comprise the wall the surrounds the field had to be removed by crane. Luckily for MSU, the company that originally installed the panels while lowering the field as a part of the 1994 stadium renovations was available for consult during the project. All other damages incurred during the concert will be paid for by the tour.
Ianni (see video above) also briefly mentioned some 'new toys' that will go into Breslin by August 1. The 'toys' include new displays including a new scoreboard (which will be 6mm replay screens like those seen in Ohio State's Value City Arena) and an LED ring circling the arena (much like many of the top arenas in the country).