With spring allegedly sprung, it's hard to imagine a sports field free of mud and ruts where people can walk, run or march without having to watch every step.
But dreams do come true.
As soon as the ground thaws, Michigan State University will break ground on a new turf field, gridded for Spartan Marching Band
practice as well as for intramurals, summer sports camps, kinesiology courses, and other community activities. The artificial turf field will replicate a well-tended stadium—complete with a moderate size grandstand for spectators and a teaching tower that provides a bird's eye view.
"The most important thing is that the artificial surface of the new field will allow students to perform more consistently," says MSU Spartan Band Director John Madden. "It takes our band about three days to wear down our current natural grass field near Demonstration Hall. We're finally able to give students the surface a Big 10 marching band needs."
Madden says the new field will also strengthen the draw and improve the comfort and visibility for spectators who attend the practices.
"Currently, the Spartan Marching Band rehearsal is a public happening," says John Madden, director of the MSU Spartan Marching Band. "Bleachers are set up and busses drop people off. It's quite popular with parents and kids."
Madden says he's seen an uptick over his 25-year teaching career at MSU in the number of K-12 schools that make field trips to see his Big 10 band. Part of that growth, he says, can be traced to MSU music education alumni who have gone on to teach and see the value of their students seeing a marching band practice.
"It's quite a vibrant educational atmosphere," says Madden who explains that the band practice is part of a class he teaches through the MSU College of Music.
"It's amazing for people to see how our shows come together."
The new field and seating gallery is expected to be ready for the 2014 practice season and will be located just south of the Munn Arena. The $1.3 million project was made possible through a $1 million grant from the Forest H. Akers Trust and a $300,000 commitment from Ed and Wanda Eichler.
Source: John Madden, Director of the Spartan Marching Band, Michigan State University College of Music
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor