By: Jordan Kendall, Sports Editor
Photo by: Jordan Kendall/The Towerlight
Johnny Unitas Stadium is getting new turf installed, the athletic department announced it on social media on March 31. This will be the first time since 2012 that new turf will be installed, and should be completed by July.
There are a number of benefits that the new turf will provide, from increasing player safety to changing the look of the field.
Davon Robb is the Assistant Director for Athletics Facilities Management at Towson. He said that the turf is usually replaced every seven to eight years, and they are replacing it now for the safety of everyone who uses it.
“It benefits them in a lot of ways,” Robb said. “There’s a test called the GMAX test that tests how cushioning the turf is when a player hits it. The new turf is gonna be a lot softer and helps aid and prevent concussions.”
Unitas is home to the Tigers’ football and men’s and women’s lacrosse teams. Football’s redshirt senior running back Shane Simpson was excited to hear the news and looks forward to trying it out.
“I knew the turf hasn’t been done in a long time,” Simpson said. “For me, being one of the longest athletes to be here it’s a great feeling. The turf was wearing down, it felt like concrete at times so it’s beneficial for everyone.”
The project was originally scheduled to start in June, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all TU spring sports were canceled and it allowed the process to begin early.
One of the benefits of the new field is the removal of the stitched midfield logo and end zones. This opens up the possibility of changing them more frequently.
Some of the other sport specific lines that are stitched into the current field won’t be permanent with the new field. This allows the field to be more sport specific depending on what it’s being used for.
“It’s gonna help us out a great deal,” Robb said. “It won’t have the permanent lacrosse lines so during football season it won’t have those lines.”
Next year, Unitas Stadium will host both the NCAA women’s lacrosse championship, as well as the Federation of International Lacrosse’s Women’s Lacrosse World Cup. This will be the first time the women’s world cup will be held in the United States since 2005 when it was hosted by the Naval Academy in Annapolis. Unitas has also hosted four NCAA championships since 2008 with the last coming in 2014.
“It shows the caliber of our facilities to be hosting both the women’s world championships and NCAA,” Robb said. “It’s a huge deal, and allows us to put Towson on the map. It allows folks to see the type of facilities we have and the high caliber staff we have.”
Men’s Lacrosse’s junior defenseman Koby Smith is heading into his senior season and is glad to see the change.
“I really enjoy it, I think it goes a long way for the student athletes,” Smith said. “They put a lot of work in day in and day out.”
This will be Simpson’s final year of eligibility, and he appreciates seeing the university give back to the student-athletes in ways such as updating the field.
“Means a lot going on my sixth year,” Simpson said. “I’ve seen a lot of the way the university builds up the university. Getting a chance to play my last year on new turf is gonna be fun.”
Simpson believes the new field will provide motivation to perform better at home. Last season, the Tigers football team went 3-3 at Unitas.
“I think it’ll add a little more motivation,” Simpson said. “It’s still football at the end of the day, but having new turf and playing a lot at home this year is gonna benefit us. I know we don’t wanna lose at home.”