Jack Trice Stadium named best field of 2012 by STMA


The field stands empty at Jack Trice Stadium before the game against Oklahoma State Friday, Nov. 18. Several hours later, the field was filled with students and fans celebrating the win over No. 2 Oklahoma State. Iowa State won with a score of 37-31, making them eligible for a bowl game.

Isaac Hunt

SportsTurf Managers Association announced Jack Trice Stadium the winner of 2012 Field of the Year award for colleges and universities on Wednesday.

Tim Van Loo, ISU manager of athletics turf/grounds, was a bit surprised.

“I was really shocked because I thought the window to be announced was already gone,” Van Loo said. “I was really happy; I was really pleased.”

Van Loo works with students to keep the field at Jack Trice the best it can be. The turf program at Iowa State offers firsthand experience for the students.

“Some of them use it as an internship, but they are all turf students at the university here,” Van Loo said. “They are trying to learn everything that they can about what we do here so they can potentially get a job in that career path at some point.”

Although most of the work is done by him and his staff, Van Loo gave credit to the construction of the field, stating that it was built correctly.

The field was built in 1996 and later resurfaced in 2008. It has a sand base, and the construction allows for good drainage of water.

Most of the field’s maintenance takes place in late spring or early summer with the help of four-to-five students, Van Loo gets the field ready for the season.

“We do a lot of cultivation, mowing and fertilizer,” Van Loo said. “Some fungicides are necessary. Most of what we do to get it ready for the season comes in late spring, early summer. We are overseeding and reestablishing all of the wear of the past fall.”

The SportsTurf Managers Association saw the results of the work. SportsTurf has a panel of 11 judges which bases its decision on “playability and appearance of the playing surfaces, innovative solutions employed, effective use of budget, and the development and implementation of a comprehensive, sound agronomic program.”

Along with SportsTurf Managers Association, there are some other admirers.

“The athletes like it,” Van Loo said. “We practice on natural grass. Coach [Paul] Rhoads likes natural grass, and he’s happy with the consistency we provide. Our practice field and this field play pretty similar.”

Natural grass on fields may be dying in college football, but it will stay at Iowa State as long as Van Loo has anything to say about it.

“I always say it’s my job to keep this surface so we never have to go artificial,” Van Loo said. “It’s cheaper to maintain this in the long run. If we can keep it playable in all weather conditions, then there is really no reason to change it.”