New Sports Era… New Field
One thing that was really missing for Madison to compete at a whole new level for their athletics was the inclusion of a sports facility at the school. In the early part of the seventies, if one of the Madison teams hosted another team, most of the contests were either held at Harrisonburg High School or at Memorial Stadium that was actually in Harrisonburg. The teams never really had anywhere to play on campus and it limited them in taking the next step towards becoming an official athletic program. It wasn’t that they needed the field in order to compete, but it was hard to taken seriously when you are paying your college leveled games at the local high school. This is something that Carrier really recognized and would take an action on.
Word came in 1973 that they were going to build an Astroturf field next to Godwin Hall, and this would take to the college to the next level (Madison Builds”). It was a very versatile field that would not only be used for the varsity sports but was also something that would be used by the Physical Education department as well as intramurals and other student activities. The stadium would also be lighted so that sports could also be scheduled for during the night, giving it a feeling of a primetime game (Morgan).
Although it was something that would really give the college the upper hand, not only due to improving facilities but because it could even help with recruiting because it gave them the ploy of playing on a perfect field every game (Morgan). Not everyone was happy with the Astroturf being at the college though, because for some they thought that there would be some health concerns, but it never got much worse the then “Madison strawberry;” a simple burn that occurred when sliding across the field (Morgan). Other than that, many of the athletes just saw it as another playing turf, and for some, “a sign of prestige,” and no issues were ever had with the turf (Morgan).
Some time after the field was originally built, Madison built concrete stands around the field in order to replace the temporary seating that was there originally (JMU Football). Obviously there would be further advancements in the stadium more recently, but for the time this really took Madison to the next step in forming their athletic prowess, as well as the image to bring more men to the university. The football team would go undefeated shortly after the stands were completed, which brought even more students to the games and created an even better atmosphere for the season, and with the help of the concrete seating, there could be more fans and students to witness the great achievement.
JMU Football-40th Season Series, Part 2 of 5, April 18, 2013 (originally aired in 2011).
“Madison Builds Astroturf,” The Breeze, September 4, 1973.
Robert Morgan, “Astroturf- Step Toward a Dream?,” The Breeze, December 6, 1974.