KU Soccer Eying Oct. 3 for Return to Rock Chalk Park
LAWRENCE, Kan. – After evaluating field conditions Tuesday, Kansas officials announced that the soccer team will look to resume playing games at Rock Chalk Park no later than the Jayhawks’ Big 12 opener versus Oklahoma State on Oct. 3. Both of Kansas’ matches this coming weekend – Aug. 29 vs. UT-San Antonio and Aug. 31 vs. Wake Forest – will be held at the Jayhawk Soccer Complex.
“The team was very excited to open the season last Friday in our beautiful new home at Rock Chalk Park,” said head coach Mark Francis. “But our biggest concerns are the safety of the players and the long-term health of the pitch. We’re fortunate that we have such a beautiful field to use in the interim.”
After playing on the new surface last Friday night against Wyoming, Kansas coaches and administrators deemed the field to be unsafe for play due to the uneven surface and several areas with little or no turf growth. The subsequent game on Sunday against SMU was then moved to KU’s former game field, the Jayhawk Soccer Complex, which is where the team will remain for the rest of its home non-conference schedule.
The poor field conditions at Rock Chalk Park were attributed to an absence of weather conditions that facilitate the best environment for Bermuda turf growth. When weighing the field installation options over a year ago with turf experts, it was determined the best option for the long-term wellness of the field would be to sprig, or plant, the Bermuda grass seedlings instead of sodding the field. This decision was made with the knowledge that young Bermuda grass would thrive during a normally hot Kansas summer.
However, the average high temperature in July and August this year was just over 87 degrees prior to last week, much cooler than the 91-degree average high for this area during those months. Despite numerous efforts to facilitate faster growth, the unusual weather patterns left the surface behind schedule and unfit for play at the start of the season.
Following an inspection of the field Tuesday with turf experts, officials believe that the early-October target date is the best option to expect to have the surface game-ready.
KU officials reiterated that if the playing surface at Rock Chalk Park is deemed ready for play in the weeks prior to the Oct. 3 match, the team could play matches there. Following a road stint in Colorado the weekend of Sept. 5-7, the Jayhawks will return to Lawrence for games on Sept. 12 and Sept. 14 against Cal State Northridge and UMKC, respectively. The following weekend, KU will close out its non-conference home schedule against St. Mary’s on Sept. 21.
Kansas Athletics will make an announcement if any of KU’s remaining non-conference home games will be played at Rock Chalk Park.
The Jayhawks’ “Party at the Park” celebration, originally scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 31, will be postponed and slotted for the team’s conference opener against Oklahoma State on Oct. 3 at Rock Chalk Park. More details of the event will be announced in the coming weeks.
Start times have been changed for the Jayhawks’ matches on Aug. 29 against UT-San Antonio and Sept. 12 against Cal State Northridge. Both matches will kick off at 5 p.m.
Ticket prices for KU’s non-conference matches at the Jayhawk Soccer Complex will be $8 for adults, $5 for youth (17 and under) and free for children five and under. The $5 promotional ticket price for this Sunday’s match against Wake Forest will still be honored.
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