Forest Lake sports fans who attend Ranger Stadium may be surprised to know some of the ways the new stadium has come together this past summer.
The stadium was christened with a girls soccer match against North St. Paul on Tuesday, Aug. 31.
One of the biggest changes is with the field itself. This summer the grass field was replaced by a synthetic turf called FieldTurf Vertex Prime, which is used at NFL and college stadiums around the country. The turf is supposed to last between 12 and 15 years.
The turf itself is made of two types of fibers, monofilament and slit-film, that are 3 inches long. But the turf is “planted” in two layers of support: the first is a layer of cryogenic rubber and silica sand, and the second is a layer of sand only.
Cryogenic rubber is made by recycled tires that are ground up, cryogenically frozen, then shattered into small particles with smooth edges.
While the blades of “grass” are 3 includes long, only about a half inch of the blade is apparent.
The field itself was laid in 5-yard strips, with the football yard lines on one edge; a “sewing machine” then sewed together the strips, a process that also was used for the sideline strip of green and thick white.
The logos on the field – the “FL” logo at midfield, and the “Rangers” in the football end zones – were created separately from the turf, then glued into place. The same process was used for the football hash marks, the yellow soccer and lacrosse lines, and the yard numbers.
Investigation at close range will show that those elements are raised slightly higher than the turf field, but continued use should wear them down to the same length as the main grass itself.
Another unique attribute of Ranger Stadium is the lighting system, which upon first view seems to only light the field during night contests.
But that is not the case: The stadium is lit with the “Show-Light Entertainment Package” offered by Musco Sports Lighting, which allows the lights to flash on and off in pre-arranged “shows” to celebrate scores and victories.
The lights also can be coordinated with halftime shows or specific music to form unique effects at the stadium.
What’s more, the poles holding the stadium lights can be “lit” in different colors; Forest Lake is the only stadium in the state whose light standards can change color. To view how the lights work, visit Musco.com/show-light.
The stands surrounding the field were rebuilt and will accommodate 2,500 fans on the home side and 1,000 fans on the visitor side. The home stands were moved to the west side of the stadium so fans would not be forced to stare into a sunset during events that begin around dusk.
The press box on the west stands has three main sections on the first floor: coaching boxes on the north and south ends, and a main press area in the center. There also is a stairway leading to the roof of the pressbox, which can accommodate cameras, video equipment and visiting radio or television crews.
The windows in the main press box slide open and are tilted so that an overhang at the front of the press box might limit the amount of rain that hits the windows.
And at the northwest corner of the stadium there is a completely rebuilt area that serve as a ticket booth – with five windows for ticket-takers at the stadium – as well as multiple concession stand windows on the eastern side of the building, not to mention permanent restrooms, which were not available previously at that site.
That commissary does not hold ovens, stovetops or grills because creating a “restaurant” would lead to the need for licensure and kitchen inspections. Instead current plans is to invite outside vendors to bring their foods to be resold at the commissary.
There also is a plaza next to the concession stand on the south side of the stadium that can accommodate gatherings during events.
The field will host football, boys and girls soccer, boys and girls lacrosse and physical education classes. The track around the field was resurfaced and relined, and special areas were created for the long and triple jumps, the shot put and discus, and the high jump and pole vault.
That work will allow the school’s track teams to potentially host a home event for the first time since 1992.
There also was much work done outside the stadium itself. To the west of the stadium, next to the high school, is a multipurpose turf field that was created primarily as a practice field. The site could be used for softball games as well as other events.
The project also reset the drainage and resodded of the grass practice fields to the south of the stadium, with all of the fields draining into the pond near the administration building.
The final touches are still be completed; for example, lines on the track were painted last weekend.