We don’t need no stinkin’ fake grass at Naranche Stadium

The only way I would sign off on spending $700,000 for an artificial football field at Naranche Stadium is if they don’t use that potentially cancer-causing crumb rubber to fill out the blades of fake grass.

Crumb rubber is what they put on the fake fields so they will mimic natural grass. Some believe this rubber has been causing cancer in soccer players who play on it.

I’m not exactly sure why it apparently only causes cancer for soccer players, but that’s beside the point.

At Naranche, if they are really going to put in a turf, they should use shattered glass and rusty nails instead of rubber.

This is, after all, Naranche Bleeping Standing we’re talking about. A soft, cushy artificial playing surface on that hallowed ground is borderline blasphemy.

For most of the years of the legendary field, tough Butte players went to battle on the dirt and sawdust field that was striped with lime. It was also, as legend had it, full of glass and nails.

I once talked to a player from out of town who said the visiting team was mentally down by a touchdown, if not more, before the game even started. Teams were scared to death to play the Bulldogs and Maroons at Naranche Stadium.

The nasty dirt of Naranche was part of the lore of Butte’s hard-nosed, mean, tough-as-nails image.

If a visitor bus wasn’t tipped over before it got to the stadium or the team wasn’t attacked by a wild, lawless mob once the bus stopped, the team knew for certain it was in for a world of hurt when it stepped onto the dirt of Naranche.

Even if the visiting team won the game, it left town with a physical beating to go along with a lot of scrapes, cuts and possibly a staph infection from the nasty old field.

You ever talk to an old-time Bulldog or Maroon who played his home games on the dirt of Naranche Stadium? Those guys wore it like a badge of honor.

Soldiers who stormed Normandy didn’t offer up their battle scars as freely as the guys who bled at Naranche Stadium.

They called the guys in the NFL wimps back when you could still tackle the quarterback.

Now, a school district that can’t afford to put an aide on every school bus to make sure children aren’t bullied, is going to spend $700,000 for a soft, scrape-free carpet at the rebuilt Naranche Stadium?

Of course, it should be pointed out that the money is coming from the building fund and the metal mines fund. Whatever those are.

That means that the school district isn’t robbing Shakespeare to pay Arie Grey. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

It might take more than a decade, but the project will eventually pay for itself with the money saved from field maintenance.

Still, we live in a community that voted down paying a few bucks a year in taxes to build a nice water park for our children. So, complaints are mounting about the sticker shock that came with the news of an artificial turf at Naranche.

When it comes to spending so richly on Naranche, though, it isn’t the money that concerns me. I am worried about all the earthquakes.

We have a whole bunch of former Butte High and Butte Central football players in the cemeteries in town. Once they get wind of the news that Naranche will have an artificial playing surface, they’re all going to start spinning. Fast.

That can’t be a good thing since we’re so close to Yellowstone National Park, which is about to blow its top anyway.

The eerie fog that set in around Naranche Stadium after Butte High won the Class AA State football championship in 2012 — Butte High’s first full season in the stadium after it was brought back to life — should tell you all you need to know about that hallowed ground.

Anyone who stuck around the stadium long enough to see the firetrucks pull up for the celebratory ride for the champions that night knows exactly what I’m talking about.

After the crowd cleared out of all but a hundred or so people who waited for the champions to emerge from their locker room, the crystal clear night was suddenly replaced by a fog straight out of a horror movie.

It was almost as if the ghosts of Naranche past were rising up to show their approval. (Or maybe their disappointment that the Butte boys were playing on grass.)

It should not be the money that stops the school district from putting a turf on Naranche. It should be that fog.

As if the fact that grass absolutely refuses to grow on that field isn’t a big enough sign in the first place. Some stretches of earth were just made to be dirt.

Word is the turf at Naranche will be green. It will also probably include a lot of purple with the words “Butte High” and “Bulldogs” in the end zone. I’m betting on a big Bulldog logo at mid field.

Neither is a good idea.

If they put a turf in Naranche Stadium like they plan, then at the very least the turf should be brown. The stripes and the numbers on the field should be the color of the lime that was used at Naranche back in the glory days of the stadium.

The Naranche turf certainly doesn’t need any flashy logos or words in the end zone. The numbers, the hash marks and the yard lines will do just fine.

A plain brown field will be much easier to look at than the blue turf at Boise State or the red carpet at Eastern Washington. It would also give Naranche Stadium the dirty look that it had back in Butte’s heyday.

The glass and rusty nails will give it the proper feel.

— Bill Foley, who started believing in ghosts again on Nov. 16, 2012, writes a column that appears on ButteSports.com on Tuesdays. Email him at foley@buttesports.com. Follow him at twitter.com/Foles74. 3 comments

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  • Fritz Daily
    May 26, 2015, 8:12 am

    I have said for years we should put in “sprint dirt” at Naranche instead of sprint turf!{Just Kidding}
    I like “sprint turf” at Naranche. Anytime we do something for the kids it’s a positive!
    I like your comments about both the Bulldogs and Maroons playing on the field and Naranche always being the “home field” for both the Bulldogs and Maroons. My only hope is that both the Bulldogs and Maroons both get to play on the “sprint dirt”!
    Go Bulldogs, Go Maroons!

  • Buster Bronco
    May 26, 2015, 8:41 am

    Dear Mr. Foley,
    I take umbrage with your affront to the blue field at Boise State. When you look at a picture of the Caribbean Ocean, are your eyes hurting? I dare say no.

    Now, that flaming atrocity that is the field at EWU. That is another story.

    As for Naranche, I am in full agreement with you. Real grass, or no grass at all. It’s only right.

    Thank you

    and GO BRONCOS!!! and…GO DOGS!!!


  • J.P. Gallagher
    May 27, 2015, 4:48 am

    Although I respect your viewpoint about Naranche. I disagree that this is a waste of money. It may be the best money that the district could spend. The fact that we are playing back at Naranche is a testimony to the vision of the drive that a few people had to bring it back. It has always been part of the plan to put turf on the field. Although you want a blast from the past you would not get a MHSA sanctioned game on a dirt field so your argument is mute. It is grass or turf both of which the ghosts of Naranche never played on. So then go to economics. Naranche will become a multi purpose facility that all kids in Butte will get a chance to play on in football, soccer, PE classes, spring sports like softball and track can utilize the stadium. Grass does not grow well there because lack of sunshine and poor drainage. Money will be saved in the long run just on the maintenance of the field which means more money to other programs. Just another perspective from someone who never got to put his foot on Naranche but proud my son and daughter will get a chance to use this jewel of a facility.


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