Athletic Advantage: Playing on the New Fields


James Miranda.

Top: The new Pace Stadium. Bottom: The football field before the Master Plan renovation. Photo courtesy of Drew Brown, Associate Athletic Director

JAMES MIRANDA, Sports Editor

The new Pace athletic facilities and fields are vastly different from what they used to be. They also play a lot differently than they used to.

The renovated fields are a part of the Master Plan—a $100 million renovation meant to upgrade Pace’s facilities—and have been generally accepted by Pace athletes. The feedback has been positive.

“I just look at that [field] and I cannot wait to play on it everyday,” said Luiz Ribeiro, tight end for Setters football. “I’m actually excited for practice being on that turf, the stands are so much closer I can actually make eye contact with my family. I do not know any negatives on the new facilities.”

The fields were finished with turf from the company FieldTurf. FieldTurf is one of the top-of-the-line turf companies and supplies the turf used by some NFL stadiums. Athletics was careful when selecting what type of turf they used for the new fields.

However, turf has some stigmas in the world of sports, such as a reputation for becoming slippery when it rains, which could lead to injuries.

“I think injuries are going to happen regardless of what surface you play on,” said Teresa Fotino, center back for Setters soccer. “We have had injuries on turf and grass. I do not think that turf is going to make us more prone to injuries.”

Both Fotino and Ribeiro agreed that the turf was way easier to play on. As opposed to natural grass, turf has more of a flat surface and, at least for soccer, it is easier to dribble the ball and anticipate the hops it might take.

“Between the new and the old surface, [the turf] is a flat, even surface,” Fotino said. “The ball moves quicker and on the grass the ball moves more slowly. There was nothing wrong with the old field it is just that when you have the artificial grass, it is all one level surface. With the grass, you cannot control how the surface is.”

There are still some adjustments to be made, however. Fotino stated that the ball plays to a faster rate and the way the ball moves is different.

For football, Ribeiro expressed that regardless of grass or turf a player will have to dig deep into the surface to get ready, but he is less hesitant about stepping in a clumpy patch of mud as opposed to the evenness of the turf.

“My freshman year, I tried to block a guy out and when I took a step reacting to where he was going, I ended up on the ground because our grass field was all mud,” Ribeiro said. “The old field was all beat up, it was old, and we were promised a turf field for a long time, and it is finally here.”

With the acquisition of the turf field, Pace meets up to conference standards. According to both Fotino and Ribeiro, Pace was the only natural grass stadium/field.

However, there is a common belief that natural grass was an advantage to Pace in the earlier days.

“We had a little bit of a ‘home field advantage’ with the old field because we played on it everyday and no one else played on a field with that surface,” said Mike Winn, head coach of women’s soccer. “It was unique to us.”

Pace athletes were used to grass for a long time and felt that since every other team in the conference did not play on it, the opposition had to make more adjustments than they did themselves. For the most part, the turf is highly preferred.

“[Playing on the new field] gives me some external motivation. I feel good and feel proud to be playing on it,” Ribeiro said. “I think this is a great opportunity for Ahletics to move up in the conference and get better recruits.”