Make no mistake — new Texas Longhorns athletic director Chris Del Conte prefers natural grass over synthetic surfaces for playing fields, but there aren’t currently any plans to take out the FieldTurf at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, despite a Thursday report from Horns247:
Hi y’all - cart is a little ahead of the horse on this one ... while I do personally prefer natural surfaces over synthetic ones timing of such a project is conjecture at this point in time.. I’ll keep you posted if plans should be expedited. All the best https://t.co/NiqsEF2WL0— Chris Del Conte (@_delconte) February 22, 2018
The fact that TCU football and baseball play on natural grass helped fuel the speculation on Thursday from elements of the Texas fan base who feel similarly to Del Conte in their dislike of synthetic surfaces.
UFCU Disch-Falk Field has had either AstroTurf or FieldTurf since it was constructed in 1975. The school has consistently argued that maintaining a grass surface would be difficult with the number of games and clinics held on the field.
The situation with DKR is a little bit different — there have been several transitions back and forth. Built in 1924, the stadium had natural grass until the installation of artificial turf in 1969. Then, in 1996, the school installed natural grass once again, but that only lasted until 2009.
Some fans may remember the 2008 Thanksgiving game against Texas A&M that helped prompt the school to install FieldTurf. On that evening, the playing surface was choppy and uneven, leading to poor footing and sloppy play at times.
With the school holding camps in the stadium during the summer and high school playoff games in the fall, there’s not as much pressure on the playing surface as at the Disch, but the most recent calculation was that FieldTurf is easier to maintain and would allow for more events at DKR.
Beyond the purists who prefer natural grass for largely aesthetic reasons, the strongest argument for replacing FieldTurf is the field temperature during early-season games. Now that airflow through the stadium is restricted by the north upper deck and the giant Jumbotron in the south end zone, there is a risk of heat-related issues when the football season begins.
However, since there are a handful of major projects that Del Conte plans to undertake in the coming months — and the need for wi-fi at DKR — replacing the FieldTurf surface is probably not especially high on the list.