On the surface, the renovation of John P. Papp stadium might seem like a great gift to the campus ó for the football team. In fact, the ramifications of the renovation will extend well beyond football and even beyond athletics.

In addition to the installation of a Sprinturf turfing system, the $1.4 million renovation of John C. Papp Stadium completed this summer includes a new outdoor lighting system by Hilscher-Clarke, the renovation of the track, repainting of the interior and exterior of the stadium and landscaping around the entrance of the field to make it more attractive. The bathrooms and visitorís locker room also underwent extensive renovations.

The money was raised in a relatively short time entirely through private donations ó first by persuading some donors from the Independent Minds campaign to designate their undesignated donations to the project, and then through the generosity of former Wooster athletes through the W association.

ìFormer athletes really stepped up to the plate in making contributions to fund the remainder of the project,” said Director of Development Moses Jones-Lewis, who added that President Grant Cornwell was a major force in spearheading the renovation.

The project has been in the preplanning stages since July of 2008. According to Director of Grounds Beau Mastrine, contractors broke ground on the project around May 18 and completed it on August 14 of this year ó less than three months later. The turf playing surface has many advantages over the old grass field, including safety and reliability. ìThe turf is phenomenal,” said football head coach Mike Schmitz. ìItís a soft surface, itís a consistent surface all over and itís not affected by weather.” The turf will keep the Fighting Scots on the same playing field as its opponents because many of their conference opponents already play on turf fields. Additionally, the outdoor lights allowed Schmitz to schedule evening and early morning practices during first-year orientation.

But the football team is only the beginning, says athletic director Keith Beckett. ìPrior to the filed being turfed, the stadium field was used in a very limited manner and only a few times per year,” said Beckett.” The turf and lights enable the College to offer more opportunities for field activity.”

This is due to a variety of factors. For one thing, there is no worry about wearing out the new field, so groups can be scheduled on it at all times ó including, thanks to the lighting system, at night and early in the morning. In addition, moving groups that formerly practiced on the residential quad to the field full-time opens up the quad for use by club sports and individuals. Director of Operations Nate Whitfield is in charge of scheduling the new field for anyone who has a need for it. In addition to scheduling the field for football and menís lacrosse, the two sports that will use it as a primary facility, a number of other sports will use the field for occasional practices.

Whitfield also added that ìtimes have been allocated for the marching band and to host intramural championship games under the lights for our grass intramural offerings. Upon their return to school, I will be meeting with leaders of grass club sports to determine if they have times and activities that would extend beyond the Quad or Wagner that they would like to schedule on the turf.”

There may be some disadvantages to the new field as well, although only experience will demonstrate their severity. For one thing, the field will require a different kind of maintenance.

ìEven though thereís no fertilizer, no water and no mowing, think about it as a carpet in your house,” said Mastrine. ìIt has to be groomed, cleaned and swept. Ö Iíd like to think itís going to be easier, but weíre still getting to be familiar with the new system.” In addition, Schmitz admitted that playing on grass after practicing all year on a turf field could be a challenge. ìItís much easier to go from grass to turf than from turf to grass,” said Schmitz. ìIf youíre going to play on grass, you should practice on grass.” This shouldnít be much of a problem, though. According to Schmitz, only one of the teamís regular season games will be played on grass. ìThe only real advantage of the artificial turf for the Scot Marching Band is that we will no longer have to march in mud at a football game,” said Nancy Ditmer, director of the Scot Band. ìThere actually are disadvantages, but they are small ó such things as having to reinvent the way the drum majors handle their maces at pregame and halftime, since they can no longer stab them into the ground.”

ìWe are sincerely appreciative and grateful for the project,” said Schmitz. ìTo the committee, to President Cornwell, to everyone who made it happen.”