In collaboration with one of the leading artificial turf companies in the country, the University of Maine at Presque Isle will soon be home to Aroostook County’s very first indoor portable turf field. Installation of the 120-foot-long by 103-foot-wide turf field will take place Dec. 11-13 in the Gentile Hall multi-purpose gymnasium and will provide several new and unique opportunities for campus and community members.
“This major upgrade to our athletics and recreational facilities will allow our campus to meet several important needs, including expanding team practice and intramural capabilities, better supporting educational experiences, and increasing recreational opportunities for the community,” UMPI President Ray Rice said. “We are so pleased to have this new indoor turf on our campus and are looking forward to using it for years to come.”
UMPI crews will install a FieldTurf product called “EasyField,” which consists of turf panels that securely connect to each other using a simple interlocking knob-system, allowing for easy installation, removal, and storage. Each turf panel is about 5 feet long and 3.5 feet wide and weighs about 20 pounds.
“Our new indoor turf field will be set up for the entire spring semester, providing a more natural practice surface for our spring sports teams that are hardly ever able to practice outside during the spring semester due to winter weather conditions,” Dan Kane, Executive Director of Athletics and Recreation, said. “It will also allow us to host intramural sports that would normally take place on grass or turf, such as indoor soccer and flag football. And it will provide our academic programs, especially Physical Education and Exercise Science, with a brand-new option for in-class activities. It’s going to be an incredible game-changer for our students.”
Kane is also excited about ways UMPI will be able to share this new asset with the community: “Our new indoor turf field will provide a major enhancement for youth, middle school, and high school sports in Aroostook County as our long winter months often prevent local youth from getting outside. We’ll be working with local schools to determine ways that they’ll be able to use the turf field. In addition, Gentile Hall members will have the ability to use the indoor field, when it is available, as part of their membership.”
The project is made possible through a bequest from the estate of Margaret “Maggie” McGrath in 2015. Mrs. McGrath passed away in 2014, and her husband, Frank, pre-deceased her in 2012. Frank McGrath was a beloved, long-time coach and faculty member at UMPI, serving more than two decades as a coach, Athletic Director, and Associate Professor of Physical Education. During his career, many of his teams achieved winning records; in fact, he is the all-time program wins leader in men’s basketball and men’s soccer. Frank and Maggie McGrath touched the lives of many students during their time at UMPI.
“We’re incredibly pleased to see the McGraths’ support of UMPI and their love of the game result in this much-needed solution to a problem we’ve had for a very long time: how our students—and our local youth—can get real and effective practice time on turf when there’s no useable outdoor turf during certain times of the year in northern Maine, especially the months of February to May,” Dr. Deborah Roark, Executive Director of University Advancement and External Affairs, said. “Just like the McGraths, this indoor turf field is going to have a long-lasting impact on our campus and community.”
During the installation, the multi-purpose courts will not be available for use. All other facilities in the building, including the pool, fitness center, and rock wall, will be available during regular operating hours.
To ensure a long and healthy lifespan for the turf field, all individuals must wear appropriate footwear (no outdoor shoes, cleats, or spikes), no food or drinks are allowed on the turf, and all are asked not to pick at or dig into the turf as it does not grow back.