Marian Kneer Stadium Undergoing Infield Upgrade
Dec. 10, 2013
NORMAL, Ill. - Marian Kneer Stadium, home of the Illinois State softball program and host of the 2014 Missouri Valley Conference Softball Championship, is undergoing an infield upgrade. Work began early last week, with the installation of the state-of-the-art surface expected to be concluded by the end of this week, weather permitting.
The new surface being installed is Stabilizer Solutions' Hilltopper Infield Mix. The product is natural soil enhanced with polymer, which provides all the benefits of natural soil while also serving to deal with weather elements better by repelling water.
"In installing this surface, we really wanted to try to minimize rain outs," ISU Associate Athletics Director/Internal Operations Peyton Deterding said. "This is a surface that a lot of schools have gone to in order to take weather elements out of play."
In addition to the weather factors, the surface is expected to provide pristine playing conditions for ISU and MVC student-athletes. Little maintenance will be required required to maintain a level, dust-free infield.
Bush Turf, based out of Milan, Ill., is installing the new surface. The first step is to remove the old surface, which took place last week. At the end of the last week, a base was laid, while the placement of the new surface began earlier this week. Previous Bush Turf projects include the Chicago Cubs' Wrigley Field, Chicago Bears' Halas Hall, Los Angeles Dodgers' Dodger Stadium, Iowa's Kinnick Stadium and Iowa State's Jack Trice Stadium, amongst many others.
Inclement weather made a significant impact on last year's season, as ISU played just 47 of 55 scheduled games, including two home cancellations, while missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2009. Head coach Melinda Fischer, who is entering her 29th season at the helm of the Redbirds, is hoping this new surface can limit those situations in the future.
"We are very excited to have this surface," Fischer said. "We've been trying to get it for a few years, and it finally became a reality. Especially with what we went through last year, with the non-opportunity to play possibly affecting an at-large bid, at least now we have as much a possibility of playing here as we can. It is a great addition, and we appreciate the support from the administration in getting this done."
Work is also being done on the stadium's two batting cages, as they will be converted from dirt to artificial turf.
The 2014 campaign will begin for the Redbirds on Feb. 7. The schedule will be released in the coming weeks. The 2014 MVC Softball Championship will take place May 8-10.
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