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   Welcome to TSLMail #87 - Friday, July 11, 2003    
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   Tech Sports News

New Sod Going into Lane Stadium
by Will Stewart,

During the ACC's hasty site visit to Virginia Tech a couple weeks back, local Hokies were treated to a disturbing site on their evening newscasts: a brown, sandy Lane Stadium field.

TV news crews followed Tech athletic officials and ACC officials around that day, and some of the footage shown on the evening news was taken during their tour of Lane Stadium. And the grass, to put it simply, looked horrible. There were large brown patches plainly visible on television.

In the summer of 2001, Virginia Tech installed a $1.5 million ITM natural grass sports field system. The system includes a Bermuda grass surface grown on movable trays, with an air and vacuum blower system which allows for drainage, and an irrigation system.

Bermuda is a warm-weather grass that goes dormant (brown) around October, so to keep the field green late in the football season, the Hokies overseeded with a perennial rye grass, which thrives in cooler weather.

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The problem was that the rye grass created a layer of thatch underneath the Bermuda grass, which caused the surface to retain water, leading to slipping problems. In late October of 2002, prior to the Pittsburgh game, Hokie officials decided to cut the grass shorter than usual to limit slippage.

By the time the WVU (Nov. 20th) and UVa (Nov. 30th) games rolled around, the field had turned brown, and to make it look better for television, Virginia Tech took the unprecedented step of painting the field green. During the WVU game in particular, players had green stains on their uniforms, not from the grass -- but from the paint on the grass.

After the season, Virginia Tech installed an optional heating system under the field that is designed to heat the roots and fool the Bermuda grass into lasting longer before going dormant.

This spring and early summer, the trials and tribulations of the surface continued, as large bare patches of dirt continued to show, mostly in the middle of the field (see the picture below, and click it to view a larger version).

Worsham Field,
looking rough
(click to enlarge)

This week, crews began replacing the grass in the middle of the field with new sod.

New sod for the Tech
playing surface
(click to enlarge)

By the time football season gets there, the sod should take root and firm up, and come October, the Hokies will get to find out if their new heating system will keep the Bermuda grass lasting longer into the football season, helping them avoid the embarrassing spectacle of having to paint the grass green again.

New Traffic Records for

The ACC expansion saga blew away all previous traffic records on Prior to May and June, the highest number of page views ever recorded for a month was 7.865 million page views in January of 2003.

May of 2003 topped that, with 10.937 million page views (10.178 million on the free side, 759,000 on the subscription side), and then June 2003 went even higher, totaling a whopping 14.753 million page views (12.106 million free side, 2.647 million subscription side).

January of 2003 averaged 253,724 page views a day, the previous record. May averaged 328,343, and June topped 400,000, averaging 403,559 page views a day.

On June 25th, the day after the news broke that VT was going to get an ACC invitation, the site set an all-time record for page views, with 1.225 million page views (985,000 on the free side, 240,000 on the subscription side). Prior to ACC expansion, the one-day record for page views was about 606,000, but that was topped several times in May and June, peaking with the astronomical totals of June 25th.

On that same day, the football message board received 7,291 posts, easily topping the old record of 5,171, set on June 19th. The subscriber board had 3,397 posts on June 25th, for an amazing total of 10,688 posts in one day.

The server, which was installed last November and had a rocky startup throughout December, handled the traffic with aplomb. We were also fortunate in that early this year, we moved the server to a new site with more available bandwidth. Good thing, because we needed it.

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-- Will Stewart Updates From the Past Week

As the ACC Turns, or President Casteen to the Rescue
by The College Football Gurus, 7/9/03, 11:00 am
The soap opera, "As the ACC Turns," provided college football fans, at least on the east coast, an exciting, if somewhat frustrating, diversion from the weighty concern over Sammy Sosa's bat. The Sabre and TSL registered record hits as fans eagerly sought the latest tidbit of information on who was kissing whom, or who might get left in the cold. The future of the free world seemingly hung in the balance.
in TSL Pass

Last Man Standing
by Jim Alderson, 7/7/03, 2:40 pm
The weather at Virginia Beach was wonderful. With the ending of the ACC expansion drama, I found that personal decompression was required, and only a few hours after the final expansion vote was taken, the only one that counted, I was heading east.
in TSL Pass

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