Dave Walsh: War Memorial Stadium Gets New Turf

Columnist Dave Walsh writes, "When the University of Wyoming Cowboys take on Texas Tech in War Memorial Stadium on Sept. 2, they will be playing on a new rug."

Dave Walsh

May 12, 20234 min read

Dave walsh Uw

So, it’s time for a new carpet.

When the University of Wyoming Cowboys take on Texas Tech in War Memorial Stadium on Sept. 2, they will be playing on a new rug.

The football team has been playing and practicing on the stadium’s current surface for 10 years. The new field turf replaces the original field turf Vertex CORE surface that was installed in 2013.

And that first field turf wasn’t the first artificial surface in War Memorial Stadium.

Wyoming’s first home field artificial turf was Desso Turf, produced in Europe. It was installed for the 2005 season.

Joe Glenn was the Cowboys head football coach, and the Pokes were coming off a 7-4 season and a thrilling victory over UCLA in the 2004 Las Vegas Bowl.

Then, after more than 100 seasons playing on natural grass at home, the Pokes would take to the artificial surface. Those 100-plus seasons included 55 seasons of football on the natural grass of War Memorial Stadium.

It was Sept. 10, 2005, when the Pokes hosted Louisiana-Monroe in War Memorial Stadium. The Cowboys came into their home opener at 0-1 after a loss to then No. 10-ranked Florida in Gainesville. ULM was 0-1.

And on this second Saturday of the season Wyoming and Louisiana-Monroe would be knocking heads on a new artificial playing surface.

The Cowboys had played on AstroTurf before. Many schools had installed the artificial surface before Wyoming did.

But this was different. It was the first time ever at home.

And there was some concern, at least from Cowboys football fans, as to just how comfortable the Pokes would be and how they would take to the new field.

Turns out the Cowboys were just fine.

In fact, they were better than fine, they were fantastic.

On a near-perfect day on their new field, the Pokes played a near-flawless game. Wyoming would score early and often and wouldn’t allow their opponent to score a single point while rolling to a 38-0 victory.

Corey Bramlet threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Jovon Bouknight in the first quarter to take the lead, and the Cowboys never looked back.

Wynel Seldon ran for 121 yards on 17 carries, an average 7.1 yards per carry. Seldon would score on touchdown runs of 1 and 5 yards.

The Wyoming defense gave up just 220 yards of total offense and defensive back Julius Stinson would intercept two passes.

That rousing win looked even better on that new football field.

Not that War Memorial Stadium, or the field itself — be it Jonah Field or otherwise — has ever looked bad. That much-loved venue has always looked good to Wyoming fans. The sightlines are outstanding, even for high up in the press box. I’m told the views are marvelous from the suites too.

I remember of that first game with the new turf that everything seemed a bit more “crisp.” The markings were clearer. And of course, no matter the weather conditions, they stayed the same. Yard lines, sidelines and hash marks never get blurred or smeared. Everything just became a bit more in focus.

In the early days of the artificial football surface, it wasn’t so popular. Players were literally being battered and bruised by it. Injuries were common and really cut into rosters.

The early surfaces had no “give” to them. Cleats didn’t dig into the surface to provide some sort of traction and there were a lot of knee and ankle injuries.

But new technology has improved the footing and there are fewer joint injuries. And the only complaint one might hear now concerns the small rubber balls that serve as cushioning. Upon contact with the ground, these rubber pieces can get into players’ eyes, noses and mouths.

You many often see these rubber particles flying up off the surface when a punt is not fielded, and on the bounce the rubber flies.

These artificial surfaces just give you a slightly clearer picture.

And Cowboys football in War Memorial Stadium will look even better this season.

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Dave Walsh

Sports Columnist