The University of Wisconsin has begun installing a heated field at Camp Randall Stadium in anticipation of the 106-year-old stadium hosting games in the College Football Playoff, which expands to 12 teams next season.
As reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, UW associate athletic director Jason King said in May that the potential of hosting playoff games at Camp Randall proved to be a motivating factor. Some first-round games in the expanded field will take place at home stadiums, with the top-four teams receiving a bye and the next four teams hosting teams within the third set of four.
Those games would be played shortly before Christmas in 2024 and 2025.
King said the radiant heating system underneath the field will prevent it from freezing and thus make is safer.
"It's not that dissimilar to an outdoor field; the same things happen with (artificial) turf … it freezes and gets more slippery, it definitely gets harder," King said, adding that the heating system also would cut down on snow removal. "This will improve the playability. We play games now late in November, and we've had some challenges in the past with late-November games."
According to JR Radcliffe of the Journal Sentinel, King said at the time that he wasn't aware of any other college stadium with a heated surface beyond Huntington Bank Stadium in Minnesota, which installed a system in 2014 in preparation for the Vikings playing there into December and January for two years while U.S. Bank Stadium was being built. He said the engineers designing the system for Camp Randall studied that stadium, as well as the Green Bay Packers' Lambeau Field, which in 1967 installed what would become the first of several heating systems employed by NFL teams.
Workers began the first phase of the estimated $5.5 million project Monday by tearing up the stadium's synthetic turf, which was installed less than a year and a half ago. King said it wasn't possible to add heating during the 2022 turf replacement because heavy equipment was staged on the field during construction of Camp Randall's renovated south end zone seating areas.
The changes mean UW may not be able to use the stadium field for spring practice in 2024, but Camp Randall could still be used for May 2024 graduation, Radcliffe reported.