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Golden Nuggets: Bob Milano Guides Us Through the Layers of Cal Memorial Stadium's New Turf

As the ten-day project of installing the Memorial Stadium turf begins, Bob Milano describes the installation process and all the different layers from the surface turf down to the irrigation system.

"In these major sports venues, the field, in essence, is the stage for the event, and it takes a lot of support to make the event run properly," said Bob Milano Jr., UC Berkeley’s assistant athletic director for capital planning and management.

As for why artificial turf needs irrigation, Milano explained that large overhead sprinkers on the perimeter of the field, fed by the irrigation system underground, will provide short-term, evaporative cooling to keep the turf cool on hot days and during heavy training sessions; it will also serve to help routinely clean the turf.

Above the game-operations infrastructure, crushed stone was placed to provide a smooth playing surface, then a shock pad or "e-layer." The latter is a blend of crumb rubber and pea gravel with a polyurethane binder mixed together with a heavy paste and then leveled over the entire field. This layer under the turf provides additional shock absorption and safety for the athletes, Milano said.

"This elastic layer shock pad is not typically used (on college football fields)," said Milano. "But it has long-term benefits, mostly to provide additional shock absorption and make the surface safer for training and competition."

After that, the turf is laid in place. The long, shag rug-like fibers — 2 1/4 inches long — on backing go in first, in five-yard panels with the white yard lines stitched in. The other field markings, such as hash marks, yard-line numbers and logos, are hand cut into the turf. Over this installation is spread a blend of rubber and sand, a soil substitute that stands the fiber up, Milano said, and provides cushioning for the players and traction for their cleats.

This multi-layer turf system is as sophisticated as what you would expect from the nation's top public university. The College of Natural Resources would be proud...