Temperatures are near 100 degrees and the heat index is approaching 110 degrees, but it hasn't slowed down the progress of installing a new playing surface at Vanderbilt Stadium.
After removing the final piece of the old sod on Friday, a crew of approximately 10 workers began the process of laying the new Bermuda 419 grass at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday morning.
Vanderbilt Sports Turf Manager Bill Randles is overseeing the project, which is being completed by SportsTurfSolutions; a local company based in Gallatin, Tenn. The company lays the sod at LP Field each year and in the past has also laid the sod at Vanderbilt's lacrosse/soccer field.
The sod is being provided by Heritage Turf Farms in Chauncey, Ga., which is also assisting with the installation. A truck from Heritage Turf Farms delivered 120 rolls of sod Tuesday morning and will bring in the final 80 rolls on Wednesday.
Despite the high temperatures, the workers will have at least the first half of the field completed by early evening Tuesday, and are scheduled to have the last piece of sod laid by the end of Wednesday.
The temperature on the field Tuesday was approximately 98 degrees, but according to the Randles, the temperature is a far cry from what it would be if an artificial surface were being laid. Instead, it would be close to 170 degrees if not hotter on artificial turf.
"It's the hottest day of the year," Randles said. "The (crew) drinks a lot of fluids and I think they take breaks under the stadium where there is shade."
Following the removal of turf on Friday, crews graded the field three times over the weekend to ensure the slope was correct from the crown to the sidelines. On Monday, an aerifier was used to go eight inches below the surface to allow oxygen into the soil and help to create a stronger root system. Fertilizer was also laid down and a top dressing, comprised of the dirt that was originally removed from the field, was used to fill in the holes from the aerator.
This is the first time the field has been resurfaced since 1999 when Vanderbilt transitioned from artificial turf to natural grass.