More Than a New Coach; New Practice Fields Ready Jaguars to Train at Old Wolfson Site

Article excerpt

Byline: Bart Hubbuch, Times-Union staff writer

The Jaguars' offseason makeover even included their practice fields.

The team will open its first training camp under new coach Jack Del Rio tomorrow morning on three new fields -- one of them artificial turf -- northwest of Alltel Stadium.

The Jaguars spent $3 million to move their practice site to the former site of Wolfson Park from south of the stadium, including $600,000 for one made of the artificial surface FieldTurf.

"The fields look great," Del Rio said. "It's all very state-of-the-art, and I'm looking forward to getting out on them."

Fans are welcome to join Del Rio and the Jaguars starting tomorrow. Practices are free to the public and, in contrast to past seasons, can be watched from inside the fence on canopied bleachers seating more than 2,000 people.

Fans also can observe practice on the perimeter of the fields as long as they stay inside the ropes. Additionally, parking is free to the public and available on stadium lots M and N.

Although there are no plans to install FieldTurf inside Alltel Stadium, Jaguars officials said the team decided to put down an artificial surface at the practice site because those surfaces have improved dramatically in recent years.

Hard, thin surfaces such as AstroTurf that were once considered unsafe by many players have been replaced by FieldTurf and other brands. FieldTurf uses synthetic, grass-like blades set in a soft base of sand and rubber from used tires.

"It just made sense to do this because these artificial surfaces have improved so much," Jaguars spokesman Dan Edwards said. …