DeKalb, IL – Northern Illinois University announces plans to replace two athletic fields on campus, taking an important step forward on the school’s quest to further support student-athletes and ensure the future success of NIL athletic programs. The university’s Board of Trustees recently approved the installation of new AstroTurf® fields at the Northern Illinois University Soccer and Track & Field Complex, and at Ralph McKinzie Field, home of NIU Huskies Baseball.
The school already boasts some of the best sports facilities in the state, and now with these much-needed upgrades, NIU student-athletes, as well as local sports programs that make use of the fields, will benefit from being able to hold practices, games, and tournaments on state-of-the-art playing surfaces.
“We are very excited about the playing surface upgrade this summer,” said men’s soccer coach Ryan Swan. “The high performing turf will allow us to further develop as a team. Furthermore, the surface upgrades will really enhance our style of play.
“We couldn’t be more excited about our partnership with AstroTurf. We are excited to be able to practice and play on a top-of-the-line surface that provides playability, consistency, durability, and aesthetics.”
For the NIU Soccer and Track & Field Complex, AstroTurf® will install a LigaTurf soccer turf system with the RootZone 3D3 blend. LigaTurf is purpose-built for elite soccer play and offers the next best thing to a natural grass field, but without the maintenance requirements or the weather vulnerability issues.
“Northern Illinois has a long tradition of successful soccer, and they are really doing some great things there, said Carl Capellas, Manager of Soccer for AstroTurf. “The soccer field has not been to their level for a long time and that’s why they are getting the LigaTurf line.
“The relationship we have with the school and the AstroTurf products sealed the deal. The relationships and the system sold them on a durable system that’s going to last a long time.”
The Huskies will benefit from the predictable playing surface and incredible durability that AstroTurf® soccer fields offer. The RootZone is engineered to minimize infill splash, helping the turf to stay intact for longer. And the field will also make practice and games safer, enabling the players to push harder when on the pitch. AstroTurf’s LigaTurf RootZone 3D3 soccer turf helps to protect the joints and ensures optimal cleat release, making it a giant improvement over the current turf, which is 14 years old.
For Ralph McKinzie Field, NIU opted for AstroTurf’s Diamond Series RBI baseball turf. It features a RootZone layer to reduce interference from infill splash and create more realistic ball hops and high-tech legend-shaped fibers for unrivaled durability. For this project, the school is replacing the existing dirt and natural grass infield and installing new turf in the foul territory areas. The visiting team bullpen is also getting an upgrade.
“The players and fans both are going to love this new field,” said Aaron Klotz, AstoTurf’s National Manager of Baseball Sales. “The players are going to love the predictable bounces the Diamond Series will give them. Our recipe for baseball systems is the best in the business.”
The upgrade at Ralph McKinzie Field is the first step in the school’s planned Walt and Janice Owens Ballpark project. Walt Owens, known fondly as “Coach O” on campus, was a professional baseball player – he played as both a pitcher and outfielder for the Detroit Stars of the Negro American League – and former NIU baseball head coach. He was also a professor at Northern Illinois University from 1973 until 2007.
When the project is completed, the baseball complex will be formally dedicated in honor of Walt Owens, who passed away in 2020, and his wife, Janice Owens.
The new AstroTurf® fields at the Soccer and Track & Field Complex and Ralph McKinzie Field are part of a larger effort to improve facilities for NIU student-athletes. These upgrades are adding premium-quality resources to the campus that will enable current student-athletes and future generations to get more out of their time being a Huskie.
For athletes and sports enthusiasts, AstroTurf® has redefined the way the game is played. The brand offers advanced, multi-sport, and specialized synthetic turf systems with proprietary engineered technologies. A growing number of high schools, colleges, professional sports teams, and municipalities continue to select AstroTurf-branded products for their premium quality, technical superiority, and safety. To learn more, visit AstroTurf’s website at www.astroturf.com.