If everything works out right, the University of Montana football team will not only have a new jumbo-tron Griz Vision scoreboard and sound system above, but a new turf under their feet when they run out of the tunnel on September 3. 

UM Athletic Director Kent Haslam said the turf in Washington Grizzly stadium doesn't get used only on Saturday afternoons in the fall, it's in use all year round, and it's worn out.

"It's the only artificial surface in the city," Haslam said. "So, it gets used by local soccer clubs, lacrosse, graduation ceremonies and other special events are on the turf, plus all of our teams will use that throughout the year, including the winter months.That requires us to clear the snow off of it so soccer and softball can use it, plus football is down there all winter long."

Haslam said the university faces a rare opportunity to replace the turf a year earlier than scheduled.

"First and foremost, we need to get permission from the Board of Regents which we will seek to do in their July conference call," he said. "We had planned to replace it next year, but it's wearing quickly. The base is starting to fail in some areas so there is a maintenance cycle, even though it's an artificial surface."

"What's happened is that Field Turf, they did our softball field and did a great job," Haslam continued. "They're coming in this summer and they've been awarded the contract with Missoula County Public Schools to replace the field at Big Sky High School. They offered to replace the turf we have now, and we won't have to pay them until next year, so we wouldn't have to pay them until we were scheduled to anyway. It's a great opportunity to get this taken care of, so now we can fix it, and fix it for good."

Haslam said the future football schedule will help to pay for the new field.

"We've got a way to pay for it next year," he said. "We play at the University of Washington, and so that will provide us with some extra revenue when we play that guarantee game next season, plus, if we need to, we have some private money set aside that can help us bridge that gap. We'll look forward to hearing back from the Board of regents after their July conference call."

The Grizzlies will open the season with a night game on September 3, as they host St. Francis with a 7:00 p.m. kickoff, hopefully, with new turf, a new scoreboard and a new sound system ready to go.