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Thursday, July 9, 1998

Baylor begins laying down grass field

WACO, Texas (AP) - The Baylor Bears will play home football games on natural grass for the first time since 1971, beginning with a date against North Carolina State on Sept. 19.

Work crews were expected to finish laying a grass field at Floyd Casey Stadium this week.

"This is the direction we need to go. Players like it. Studies have shown it's safer than artificial turf, and it's more economical," said Baylor associate athletic director Jim Trego.

Big 12 rivals Texas A&M and Texas also have switched from artificial turf to grass in recent years.

Baylor's field will be SportGrass, a combination of natural grass and synthetic turf.

Developed by Jerry Bergerin of Seattle, the natural grass is woven into a synthetic turf base to provide a more durable surface.

SportGrass is used by professional teams that include the Green Green Bay Packers and Baltimore Ravens and college teams such as Louisville and Utah.

"You couldn't cut through this stuff with a nine-iron," said Waco Grounds Keeper general manager Andy Trimble, who will manage the Floyd Casey Stadium grass. "It won't tear or cut. It's also a lot softer than artificial turf."

The grass is being transported from Poteet, where it has been growing for seven months. Twenty trucks carrying 3,500 square feet of sod apiece are making the four-hour drive from the San Antonio area-town.

Trego said the grass costs $800,000 and will cost about $100,000 annually to manage. But he said it will still be more economical than artificial turf.

"The going rate of artificial turf is $1.5 million," Trego said. "But you have to replace it about every eight years. It will cost about the same to install natural grass and maintain it for eight years, but then you don't have to replace the grass. So it's much more economical."

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