THE FLATS – Georgia Tech athletics will install an artificial playing surface at Bobby Dodd Stadium, the home of Georgia Tech football, this summer. The removal of historic Grant Field’s previous natural grass turf began in late May and the installation of a state-of-the-art Legion NXT turf system with Geofill infill, manufactured by Shaw Sports Turf out of nearby Calhoun, Ga., is expected to be completed in late July.
The installation of an artificial surface will allow for Grant Field to be utilized on a far more regular basis than it currently can be. The new surface will expand opportunities for Georgia Tech student-athletes and teams to train and practice inside Bobby Dodd Stadium. Additionally, it will allow Tech athletics to host many more non-football events inside the stadium that are of interest to the Georgia Tech and Atlanta communities, including campus events, concerts and other sporting events. Financially, the installation of an artificial surface at Bobby Dodd Stadium will decrease expenses associated with maintaining a natural field while also providing opportunities for significant revenue boosts associated with hosting external events. No state funds are being used for the project.
Planning for the switch to artificial turf began in earnest last winter, after Georgia Tech announced that Bobby Dodd Stadium would host concerts by BTS and Guns ‘N Roses in May and August, respectively (the concerts were later postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic). Those concerts would have required Georgia Tech to replace the natural grass surface less than a month before the Yellow Jackets’ Sept. 3 football season opener versus Clemson.
“I’d like to thank our long-time partners at Shaw for working with us to make this project a reality,” Georgia Tech director of athletics Todd Stansbury said. “Georgia Tech and Shaw have a long history of collaborating on various projects and we’re excited and grateful to work with them once again.
“While our outstanding grounds crew has consistently produced the nation’s best natural grass football field, Shaw Sports Turf’s Legion NXT turf system will provide our student-athletes with the safest, most consistent playing surface available today,” Stansbury continued. “Additionally, installing an artificial surface will allow us to utilize Grant Field 365 days a year, as opposed to the very limited number of events, practices and workouts that can safely be held on a natural surface. The switch to an artificial field will allow Bobby Dodd Stadium to continue as one of college football’s best stadiums, as well as become a space that the entire campus community can enjoy more often, and evolve into one of the Southeastern United States’ premier entertainment venues.”
The installation of the state-of-the-art Legion NXT surface marks the return of artificial turf at Bobby Dodd Stadium, major college football’s oldest on-campus venue. Grant Field had an artificial surface for 24 seasons from 1971-94, which included the Yellow Jackets’ fourth national championship campaign in 1990. Willie Clay, Marco Coleman, Bill Curry, John Davis, Eddie Lee Ivery, Robert Lavette, Randy Rhino, Pepper Rodgers, Bobby Ross, Lucius Sanford, Ken Swilling and Pat Swilling were among the Georgia Tech legends that played and coached on Grant Field’s artificial surface during their time as Yellow Jackets.
“I’m grateful to our athletics administration, led by Todd Stansbury, and our friends at Shaw Sports Turf for all they’ve done to make it possible for us to install a state-of-the-art playing surface in Bobby Dodd Stadium,” Georgia Tech football head coach Geoff Collins said. “An artificial turf field will give us the ability to practice and train inside the stadium on a regular basis year-round, which will be a huge advantage as we prepare to play in the best setting in college football, Bobby Dodd Stadium in the heart of Midtown Atlanta!”
The Legion NXT turf system is Shaw Sports Turf’s newest fiber system. Including the exemplary ThunderBolt Fiber, Legion NXT is a hybrid system that offers realistic aesthetics with an electrifying degree of durability. The system is built for strength, pushing the envelope and providing endurance through even the toughest of matchups. It is 20 percent more robust and shows minimal signs of wear up to 80,000 lisport cycles. The Geofill infill system is 100-percent natural and plays natural, resulting in a perfect balance of vertical deformation, rotational resistance and energy restitution. The Geofill infill is made of coconut husks and fibers, which is a rapidly renewable resource. The infill also requires much less water than natural grass, thus resulting in significant levels of conservation.
The National Football League’s Cincinnati Bengals (Paul Brown Stadium) and Indianapolis Colts (Lucas Oil Stadium) both have Shaw Sports Turf surfaces in their respective stadiums.
The new playing surface is one of several upgrades will be unveiled at Bobby Dodd Stadium when Georgia Tech football hosts Clemson in the Yellow Jackets’ highly anticipated, nationally televised season opener on Thursday, Sept. 3. Additional upgrades include a new fan- and energy-friendly LED lighting system, a new sound system, improved stadium signage, fresh paint throughout the facility and a refresh of restrooms throughout the stadium.
2020 Georgia Tech football season tickets are on sale now. The Yellow Jackets’ seven-game home schedule is one of the best in program history, featuring matchups at Bobby Dodd Stadium versus Clemson, Miami, Virginia and UCF, as well as the inaugural “Mayhem at MBS” showdown against Notre Dame at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Nov. 14. Season tickets start at just $229 and include the Mayhem at MBS contest versus Notre Dame. For more information and to purchase tickets online, visit ramblinwreck.com/footballtickets.
The Alexander-Tharpe Fund is the fundraising arm of Georgia Tech athletics, providing scholarship, operations and facilities support for Georgia Tech’s 400-plus student-athletes. Be a part of developing Georgia Tech’s Everyday Champions and helping the Yellow Jackets compete for championships at the highest levels of college athletics by supporting the A-T Fund’s Annual Athletic Scholarship Fund, which directly provides scholarships for Georgia Tech student-athletes, and Athletics Initiative 2020, Georgia Tech athletics’ ongoing $125 million initiative to allow Tech to recruit the nation’s most elite student-athletes, build a better student-athlete once they arrive on The Flats and, ultimately, win! To learn more about supporting the Yellow Jackets, visit atfund.org.