For several months, Morgan’s football and track teams have practiced on alternative fields due to major renovations. With the university’s first home game approximately one month away, the field is scheduled for completion this week.
Hughes Memorial Stadium underwent a $1.5 million makeover May 28 to include a new turf and 8-lane-all-weather running track. While the field has been completed for a week, additional renovation of the track has delayed players’ access to the field.
The closure of the track also forced Morgan’s football and track teams to find alternative practice fields.
While the track team adjusted in the on-campus practice field, adjacent to the Hill Field House, the field was not equipped to handle football practices and the department had to find an alternative.
The university partnered with Mervo High School in Baltimore City. In this partnership, the university can practice on Mervo’s field as long as the high school can use the university’s softball field.
Members of the team take a shuttle, carpool or walk approximately 20 minutes from campus to their morning practices.
With Morgan State’s first home game scheduled for Sept. 28 and the annual homecoming game in less than one month, players are anxious to get back on their field.
Rudy Ybarbol, Beynon Sports Surfaces’ superintendent for the track and field project at Morgan State University said he was given 31 days to complete a job that typically takes up to two months.
“I’ve only been here two and a half weeks,” Ybarbol said. “Usually it takes six to eight weeks to complete a job like this.”
The over $1 million job calls for a team of 10 members who work 12-hour shifts, seven days a week.
In efforts to maintain the track and field’s longevity and decrease the need for field maintenance, all of the field’s real grass was replaced with eco-friendly turf. Similar to grass, the material will drain water into the soil.
“The turf we have is the best turf you can buy,” Scott said. “This one is more of the range rover of turfs if you will.”
Due to a complete renovation of the Hughes Stadium, the football team has been displaced. Earlier in the renovation process, the team utilized the practice field adjacent to the Hill Field house.
“The grass field is a good field to practice on but the more you practice on real grass, the durability decreases,” senior middle linebacker Ian McBorrough said. He added that the practice field is not an ideal alternative because real grass deteriorates quicker than turf.
With the fear of a potential injury, the team’s department transitioned to Mervo.
“The durability decreases because small ditches start to form because we are constantly cutting and wearing it out,” McBorrough said. “So those ditches can cause serious ankle or knee injuries if someone happens to take the wrong step in them while going full speed.”
Morgan’s track team has utilized the practice field by the Hill Field House and while the field is not ideal, the team is rolling with the punches.
Brandon James, a sophomore marketing major and track member said the field’s closure has not affected the team because their workouts are not speed concentrated at this time of year.
“Even though it’s not leveled, we have to make do so we practice on the grass for the most part,” James said. “The upside about conditioning in the grass is that it saves and preserves your legs and grass training is actually very proficient.”
James said grass training makes the leg muscles stronger without the physical beating a hard surface like a running track can give.
According to a Board of Regents meeting on July 9, the running track’s expected date of completion was approximately Sept. 16.
Athletic Director Edward Scott and Vinetta Paige McCullough, director of Business and Auxiliary Services, are scheduled to complete a walkthrough of the track and field this week.
New Field. New Season. New Attitude. #TalkToMeNice #BEATNCCU #9/28
This leaves the football team less than 20 days to acclimate themselves to a new field before they play North Carolina Central, a team they lost to three years ago on Morgan’s old field.
“Football is football at the end of the day, whether you’re playing on grass, turf, dirt, etc.,” McBorrough said. “Our only concern is coming out on Saturday and beating Central.”
The field will make its debut during the first home game with North Carolina Central on Sept. 28 at 6 p.m.
“If we were going to do a project, we were gonna do it all the way, we got to give it everything we have because the students deserve that,” Scott said