A re-turfing of Veterans Memorial Field at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse will be finished by the end of June, but not in time for a popular drum corps competition that would have been held there.
River City Rhapsody, featuring the La Crosse Blue Stars and a handful of professional drum corps from across the country, will instead be held June 30 at Rochester Community and Technical College in Rochester, Minn.
Additionally, a Badger State Games meet has been relocated, and a UW-L prep football camp has been canceled.
Scott Schumacher, associate director of planning and construction at UW-L, said Veterans Memorial will be able to host River City Rhapsody and other events in the summer of 2020, despite work on the track surrounding the field.
The turf at Veterans Memorial was last replaced about a decade ago, the typical lifespan for an artificial field surface.
Schumacher said the old turf, which was pulled up last week, was well worn and in need of repairs. The new turf will be similar, but with the addition of a soft underlying layer meant to cushion hard falls.
The project will cost about $475,000.
“We could have maybe gotten another year out of it, but from a safety and wear standpoint, it’s a good time,” said Schumacher, who noted the benefits of the extra cushioning. “I’m no expert on turf, but impact resistance is kind of the big thing. That cushion will (help) not just with head trauma and the whole concussion thing, but the body as well.”
Attention next summer will shift to the track around Veterans Memorial, which is due for a coat of epoxy. Application should take about two weeks, Schumacher said, and should not interfere with any scheduled events.
Before the returfing, Veterans Memorial most recently hosted the WIAA state track and field meet, attended by roughly 3,000 athletes and 10,000 spectators.
From Tribune files: The early years of the Veterans Memorial Field Sports Complex
The Veterans Memorial Field Sports Complex featuring Roger Harring Stadium opened in 2009 on the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse campus. The first event at the new $16.6 million facility was the 2009 WIAA State Track and Field Championships. Click here to see how the La Crosse Tribune documented the construction of the facility.