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Facility Profile - April 2002

Magic Carpet is a Sweet Ride

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

By Cari C. Melby


PHOTOS COURTESY OF HODESS BUILDING COMPANY

Haven't you always thought that magic carpets were the stuff of fairy tales?

Not necessarily so, say the people at the University of North Carolina's Eddie Smith Fieldhouse in Chapel Hill, N.C. The brand new fieldhouse comes replete with a "Magic Carpet" all its own. The 68,000-square-foot fieldhouse was built to replace an aging indoor track facility that was more than 30 years old.

"The football program was actually the catalyst for the new fieldhouse," says Jaci Field, building director athletic operations for the fieldhouse. "We needed an indoor practice facility for the football team to help bring the program to the next level."

The AstroTurf Magic Carpet is the key to the facility's versatility. In about an hour, the facility can be converted from an indoor track to an almost regulation-length football field. Using a series of air jets, the mechanized Magic Carpet floats four to five inches above ground as it is being laid out. This air cushion eliminates the friction that would otherwise form between the turf and the floor, which is how the turf earned its name. When not being used, the turf is conveniently stored in a single roll.

PHOTOS COURTESY OF HODESS BUILDING COMPANY

"The Magic Carpet is one of 14 installations like it in the world, and it provides an uncommon level of versatility to this facility," says Alan Asadoorian, director of construction for the Hodess Building Company, building contractor for the fieldhouse.

As a track facility, the fieldhouse is state-of-the-art. It has a six-lane, 200-meter, NCAA-regulation track with a Mondo Super X 14-mm surface.

"This is a performance surface," Field says. "It is meant to be a fast-racing track. I have been around track and field on many levels throughout the region—the Eddie Smith Fieldhouse is one of the best in the Southeast."

The fieldhouse is used for indoor track-and-field practice as well as for meets and tournaments.

When converted for football practice, the field measures 80 yards by regulation width.

"The facility's 45-foot overhead clearance enables the football team to do sideline-to-sideline passing drills and field-goal kicking," Asadoorian says.

PHOTOS COURTESY OF HODESS BUILDING COMPANY

The football program now has the option of practicing indoors whether to avoid searing summer heat, winter cold or simply to preserve the outdoor turf for an upcoming home game.

Existing plans to make the facility even more versatile will mean additional teams will be able to get in the game.

"We are planning to install a retractable netting system," Field says. "This system will enable the soccer, baseball, lacrosse and many other varsity teams to use the facility for practice. It will also allow more than one sport to practice at a time."

A wide range of campus groups and organizations also have access to the facility, including physical-education courses, sports camps for youth and the Air Force ROTC program.

"The Athletic Department is really excited about what the Eddie Smith Fieldhouse offers not only our athletic programs but also the entire university community," Field says.

For more information
AstroTurf.: 800-233-5714

Hodess Building Company: 508-695-1100

Mondo—USA: 800-441-6645