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Photo by Cale Parten.

Turf comes to south campus ice arena

Turf wars

Five sports teams battle for space in the renovated arena

It is no surprise that spring sports this year have been particularly difficult to get up and running, namely because of the weather. Almost all of the spring sports teams were inside for the entire month of April. The baseball, softball, boys’ and girls’ lacrosse and track team have all had to share the ice arena at South Campus.

Not only has scheduling practices been a nightmare, but the surface itself was very slippery concrete and not ideal for sports where changing direction is frequent.

Todd Johnson, the executive director of the National Sports Center in Blaine as well as junior Conor Johnson’s dad, reached out to Scott Glenn, the manager of the ice arena and buses at south campus, and told Glenn about a unique opportunity.

“Knowing Minnehaha was without any place to practice sports indoor on campus, we originally offered older turf from our Sports Hall to Coach Glenn,” said Johnson.

“Last fall, we gave away over 50,000 square feet of turf when we upgraded our indoor Sports Hall. Back then, Coach Glenn really wanted some of that turf as it has a much better surface [than the turf Minnehaha was given]. However, with rubber and sand infill, it was too heavy to move in and out of the ice arena. Plus, the rubber infill would have leaked all over the floor of the arena.”

However, the National Sports Center told Glenn about a new offer that would make the process of acquiring and installing the turf much simpler. This offer was even more ideal as all of the turf was free.

“I told Scott [Glenn] we were going to be adding basketball floors in one of our other buildings,” said Johnson. “I also told him that the turf there was much easier to move in and out, and he jumped at that opportunity.”

Because of this opportunity, the teams that practice inside the south campus arena now have a much better surface to play their respective sports. For the teams that practiced in the arena, practicing on slippery concrete was a big drawback.

“I think practicing on concrete would have been a challenge as it was very slippery and gave the ball a weird bounce,” said junior baseball captain Noah Dehne. “Practicing on concrete just isn’t game-like so I don’t think we could prepare as well. The turf gives us an opportunity to use a surface that will be more like the grass of a field, so it is a nice upgrade.”

The softball team also had the opportunity to switch from a slippery rubber gym floor to the turfed arena.

“I like it because I think it gives you a better feel of what it would actually be like to play in the field,” said sophomore softball captain Kate Pryor. “Obviously it’s not the same, but it’s better than a rubber floor.”

As soon as the turf was installed, there were already teams and organizations that wanted to rent out the space as it is one of the only indoor spaces with turf in Minneapolis.

“Right now we have our spring sports using the arena,” said Glenn. “Baseball, softball, track and boys’ and girls’ lacrosse are using it for their practices.  We have also rented out the arena to outside groups for baseball, kickball and football. I believe we will have soccer as well soon.”

During the April blizzards, the addition of turf inside the arena helped many sports teams have a place to practice. Now that it is May, rain is also becoming a problem and the arena gives those teams a dry area for practice.

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