Notre Dame Stadium to get artificial turf April 21 2014

Notre Dame will install artificial turf in Notre Dame Stadium in time for the 2014 season, replacing its traditional natural grass surface, the school announced Saturday. 

The school will install a FieldTurf surface after commecement weekend May 16-18. The project is expected to be completed on Aug. 15. Notre Dame opens its season against Rice on Aug. 31. 

"We had a strong disposition to stay with a natural grass field," athletic director Jack Swarbrick said in a statement. "However, the reality is that in two of the last three seasons we moved commencement to the stadium we have been unable to produce an acceptable playing surface."

Swarbrick also said planned renovations due to take place at Notre Dame Stadium would make a natural grass field hard to maintain in future years and the team already practices on turf.

The switch will allow the Irish to practice and play on the same surface. The team now will be able to practice in the stadium on Fridays before games, Swarbrick said.

Coach Brian Kelly applauded the move in his news conference after Saturday's scrimmage. Kelly was displeased with the conditions Saturday, where plenty of brown patches were mixed in with the grass in the stadium. 

"I think today was an indication; we can't even practice out there ... " Kelly said. 

"If we can get the best surface with grass, we'd love to have that. We just haven't been able to get to that. This is my fifth year here at Notre Dame and we haven't been able to get to that. This is the best option available to us." 

After the game, several players also praised the move and are happy they won't have to deal with footwork issues. 

"I always hated grass fields," cornerback Kei'Varae Russell said. "You see how terrible it was out there? Come on now. When we played USC last year that field was terrible. So I'm excited."

Swarbrick said the turf would also allow Notre Dame to host other events in the stadium, such as hockey games and concerts.