By Jeff White (email@example.com)
CHARLOTTESVILLE — The Rolling Stones played at Scott Stadium on Oct. 6, 2005. Nine days later, UVa upset Florida State in football on that same field.
Fast forward four falls. Another world-famous rock ‘n’ roll band is coming to Scott Stadium. U2 plays there Thursday night — Oct. 1 — and UVa again is looking at a quick turnaround after the concert.
Virginia hosts Indiana at Scott Stadium on Oct. 10.
“Our goal is to be able to go from a rock show to a football game in nine days,” said Jason Bauman, UVa’s associate director of athletics for facilities and operations.
This will be the third concert at Scott Stadium this decade. The Dave Matthews Band played there April 21, 2001, but that was out-of-season, and crews didn’t have to work overtime to get the field ready for a sporting event.
The Stones show fell in the middle of football season, and UVa had contracted to buy replacement sod if necessary. The field survived the concert, however, and was in good condition by the Florida State game.
UVa doesn’t expect to be that fortunate this time. U2’s stage, located in the stadium’s south end, is massive. Aluminum panels stretching about 75 yards, from the south end zone to the opposite 35-yard line, will cover much of the field for more than a week.
“It’s likely the grass will die and not be safe and playable,” Bauman said.
Still, a final decision won’t come until Oct. 4, when all the concert equipment has been removed. UVa’s football team has five home games left, starting Oct. 10, and the Virginia High School League will play two state finals at Scott Stadium on Dec. 12.
Live Nation, which is promoting the concert, will bear the financial responsibility if the field must be replaced.
“This has been a partnership with Live Nation,” Bauman said. “They understand we have football games to play. They want that to go well for us, and they want the concert to go well, too.”
If the field has to be replaced, a Charlotte-based company, Carolina Green, will begin removing the playing surface Oct. 4. A day later, the installation of thick cut sod, grown for UVa in Maryland, will begin.
Thirty tractor-trailers would deliver the sod to Charlottesville, said Jesse Pritchard, UVa’s sports turf manager.
The sod would cover the playing surface, as well as a six-foot perimeter around the field. Thick cut sod weighs 18 pounds per square foot. Normal sod weighs two to three pounds per square foot.
The schedule calls for the sod installation, if necessary, to be completed Oct. 7 and the field to be painted Oct. 8 and 9.
“It’s a tight schedule, but we’ve got the right contractor and the right sod,” Pritchard said.
Bauman said: “We’re not like an NFL stadium that [replaces its field] routinely, so there’s a little trepidation, but Jesse is really good.”
U2 played at Soldier Field in Chicago on Sunday, Sept. 13. A week later, after the turf was replaced at Soldier Field, the Bears hosted the Steelers there.
Pritchard has talked to his counterpart in Chicago and to other turf managers who have worked with U2. He’s confident UVa will have the field ready for the Oct. 10 game.
“It’ll work,” Pritchard said.
If the thick cut sod is installed, it’ll be gone by the start of the 2010 season. New sod that’s more compatible with UVa’s sand-based system would be installed in the spring.
“This would be a temporary field to get us through this season,” Bauman said.