Anyone who has been following the Packers is well aware of the great change that has occurred at their Lambeau Field home over the past few years.
What many fans may not be aware of, however, is that the field the Packers get most of their playing time on has received a complete make-over as well.
Ray Nitschke Field, the team's day-to-day outdoor practice field during the regular season located just east of the Don Hutson Center, has undergone a renovation process that will make it much more serviceable. The field, which formerly featured a natural grass playing surface, is now comprised of FieldTurf, the leader in synthetic grass fields.
FieldTurf is a grass-like artificial surface, with individual grass blade-like fibers surrounded and stabilized by a blend of "synthetic earth". The mixture beneath the surface of the field is comprised of silica sand, rubber granules, and re-ground athletic shoe material.
Final installation work is being completed this week, and the surface will be ready for use by the Packers in time for Monday, September 6, the day of their first practice leading up to their September 13 regular season opener.
By utilizing FieldTurf, the same surface found in the Hutson Center, the team can continue to use the field later in the season when natural grass fields typically are frozen. GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman prefers the team to practice outside in the elements, if at all possible, to prepare them for the conditions they will face on game day.
An additional benefit of FieldTurf's durability will be the ability to use Nitschke Field for other Packers-related football events, such as coaching clinics and youth football initiatives.
Once training camp closes on September 1, all Packers practices will be closed to the public, and the fences around Nitschke Field will be covered.
Work will then begin on the installation of a new drainage system and natural grass surface for Clarke Hinkle Field. That project will be completed in time for the Packers' 2005 training camp.