Manitou Field to switch to synthetic turf thanks to anonymous gift

St. Olaf Football TeamThanks to an $800,000 anonymous gift, St. Olaf College will soon install synthetic turf at Manitou Field.

The college will break ground on the installation of the turf after Commencement Weekend in May. The new field will be ready for St. Olaf’s first home football game on September 10 against Luther College.

St. Olaf athletics and facilities staff members expect the new turf will provide the best performance, durability, and player safety available in the market with very low environmental impact.

The synthetic turf system to be installed at Manitou is fabricated by Mondo, a sports surface company that has been an official supplier for the past 10 Olympics, for the World Cup and Commonwealth Games, and similar global sports events.

The Mondo system integrates grass-like blades, elastic underlayment, and infill materials that absorb 30 percent less heat than black rubber infill systems to improve summer playing conditions. The system also employs post-consumer non-toxic recyclable materials.

“Systems have improved greatly in the last few years, both in terms of supporting player safety and environmental sustainability,” says St. Olaf Athletic Director Ryan Bowles. “Many high schools from which our athletes come already provide synthetic turf for their athletes, and athletes grow accustomed to the response and feel of these systems. I am grateful we can add this amenity and improve the playability of Manitou for our athletes for years to come.”

St. Olaf joins five other schools in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference that have synthetic turf. Adding synthetic turf at Manitou will provide athletes with conditions similar to what they experience at away games. Players can both practice and play at Manitou, further improving the consistency of their performance. St. Olaf’s football team will continue to have priority use of Manitou.

Over the years, St. Olaf has added several amenities and facilities around Manitou to support its athletes. In 2002 it added new bleachers and a press box, and in 2013 the college resurfaced the surrounding track. Manitou already has the perimeter drainage system in place necessary to support artificial turf, improving cost efficiency for the project.