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ISU Football Practice Field
ISU Football Practice Field
ISU Football Practice Field
ISU Football Practice Field
ISU Football Practice Field
ISU Football Practice Field

Johnny Majors Practice Field Expansion at Iowa State University

Located in Ames, IA

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The natural turf at Iowa State University’s Johnny Majors Practice Field was still in good condition, but over time turf gets top-dressed with organic materials like sand that change the crown of the field and make it harder for the grass’s roots to reach water down below. While planning began to scrape off the organic material and re-sod or seed the field, an adjacent project made it possible to expand the field into two practice fields.

Then after COVID put the project on hold for two years, the head coach requested a synthetic turf field be included in the project to give the team a competitive edge when practicing for away games. A new plan had to be devised quickly to allow construction to start right after the last football game and be completed before the first practice in 2022.

Three partial (about 60%) fields were designed that run east-west: two natural and one synthetic turf with an end zone on each of them.

The previous practice field had run north-south with a crown and slopes matching Jack Trice Stadium’s field. Therefore, when rotating the fields, additional drainage and irrigation needs had to be addressed. With the synthetic turf field on the north end by the indoor practice facility where the irrigation main started, special pipe materials were chosen to ensure the turf wouldn’t be impacted. Pathways for fiber and a host of electrical needs – including hydraulically lifted cameras, lights and speakers – were created to connect to the indoor facility. Fencing was redone and a gate with electronic keypad installed for extra security.

The design team also worked with ISU’s turf grass management program to have students grow the premiere bluegrass needed for the natural turf fields on the university’s own horticulture farm. Since this type of sod is normally only grown in Colorado or the Pacific Northwest, this saved ISU time and expense to ensure the sod would be down and ready for the first practice.

While the orientation of the fields is different, the slopes of the natural fields still emulate that of Jack Trice to help the players prepare for game day.


  • 2023 Outstanding Multi-Field Facility of the Year: Bronze Award – American Sports Builders Association (ASBA) 
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Sports | Ames, IA

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