Joe Christensen covered Major League Baseball for 15 years, including three seasons at the Baltimore Sun and eight at the Star Tribune, before switching to the college football beat. He’s a Faribault, Minn., native who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1996. He covered Jim Wacker’s Gophers for the Minnesota Daily and also wrote about USC, UCLA and the Rose Bowl for the Riverside Press-Enterprise before getting this chance to cover football again.
Email Joe to talk about the Gophers.
I know today is practically a holiday, what with the highlight of the 2010 bowl season -- the Maaco Las Vegas Bowl, with Utah going for its 10th straight bowl victory against some pretenders from Idaho -- just a few hours away, but I did want to pass along the answer to a few emails I received over the weekend.
Why, a few Gopher fans wondered, doesn't a brand new stadium in an extreme climate like ours have heating coils under the playing surface? It became an issue for the Vikings and Bears last week, although the field at TCF Bank Stadium ended up being, by all accounts, hard but playable for Monday night's game.
The answer, according to a spokesman for athletic director Joel Maturi, is that the coils are expensive, and once a feasibility study determined that it wasn't practical for the Vikings and Gophers to share TCF Bank Stadium, the building was designed with just the college team in mind.
"In the end, (it was) decided that the cost far outweighed the benefits," athletic department communications director Garry Bowman said, "so we did not give it much thought after that."
That's because the FieldTurf surface stays relatively spongy unless exposed to an extended period of temperatures in the 20s or below -- conditions an NFL team might face in December or January, but much more unlikely during the college season, which ends shortly after Thanksgiving.
"The odds of us experiencing an extended hard freeze during the (college) season are so remote, the investment didn't make economic sense for us," Bowman said.
Thanks to those who wrote for an answer. Now, back to your pregame festivities. Go Utes!
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