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Field of dreams

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Even as Aloha Stadium is being prepared for the installation of new artificial turf, tenants already point to its benefits.

The promise of the $1,767,365 UBU Speed Series S5-M turf, which is scheduled for completion July 15, is credited with helping to book ESPN’s Hawaiian Islands Invitational soccer tournament for the stadium Feb. 23 and 25, 2012.

"The turf (at the stadium) was a big issue with some of the (pro) leagues we’ve been talking to, so no question that the new turf is a factor in the event coming here," said David Matlin of ESPN Regional Television, the tournament’s operator.

Teams from Major League Soccer and leagues in Australia, Japan and Korea are expected for the event, which will be televised internationally. State officials have said they hope to attract more international-type sports events to the stadium, including soccer.

State and tournament officials said participants in the last international soccer event, the Pan Pacific Championships in 2008, complained about the existing turf saying the blades were too short, which made the ball harder to control. Leagues also felt not enough of the field was covered with any bladed material.

In addition there had been concerns voiced by University of Hawaii players and the NFL about the wear on the previous surface, which was installed in 2003. Last summer the state reconditioned the surface to get the field to last through the 2010 football season and Pro Bowl.

Matlin said the new turf, which features 2 1/2 -inch blades and covers more of the previously exposed end zone areas, "meets the leagues’ approval, from what we have been told."

Stadium authority chairman Kevin Chong Kee said the authority has been told the surface is approved by the NFL and MLS.

A spokesman for the maker, UBU, said the Louisiana Superdome, home of the New Orleans Saints, and University of Nevada-Las Vegas are among those who have the same type of field.

The new surface replaces an eight-year old FieldTurf model that cost $1.3 million.

A spokesman for the state Department of Accounting and General Services said, "(the) new turf is latest generation synthetic turf with improved fiber and infill technology for softer, more lush, more durable, and more consistent playing surface."

Chong Kee said the new surface also will have turf "inserts" so that logos for UH, the NFL, WAC etc. do not have to be repainted and covered over, which causes "shadows" on the field. He said the drainage is significantly improved.

DAGS said the turf, which is being installed by Applied Surfacing Technology, has an eight-year warranty.

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