Kelly hints at changes to stadium, playing field

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With graduation weekend behind us, the installation of FieldTurf in Notre Dame Stadium will begin imminently. The stadium’s natural grass will be ripped out on Tuesday, and Irish fans have the chance to buy their own slice of Notre Dame Stadium with a five-foot-by-two-foot roll of grass shipped out and arriving at your home by Friday.

With the turf on its way in, Brian Kelly was asked about what to expect on the actual field when it’s complete. While Notre Dame will stick with its traditional hash marks in the end zone, Kelly hinted that things might be spiced up on the field.

Pete Sampson at Irish Illustrated reports Kelly talked about putting an interlocking ND at midfield and shamrocks at both kickoff markers. More radically, during the redesign of the stadium, Kelly discussed cutting out a portion from the north end zone to make the library’s Touchdown Jesus mural more visible from inside the stadium, while also potentially serving as a much-needed stadium concourse.

As it happens with just about every change to Notre Dame, and especially the House that Rock build, those changes have some traditionalists worried. But former All-American Jerome Bettis talked about the changes coming, and how they’re needed.

Eric Hansen of the South Bend Tribune got Bettis’ take on the upgrades.

“It’s inevitable,” Bettis said. “We want things to stay the same, but, unfortunately, the dynamics of college athletics has changed. And so we’ve got to kind of level the playing field. Right now we’re behind the curve.

“Usually, your tradition is a benefit. But in our particular situation, it’s a crutch, because the kids who are coming out of high school now haven’t seen Notre Dame in its truest luster and in its moment.

“It hadn’t been relevant in so many years, that these kids weren’t born the last time Notre Dame was vying for a national championship outside of the last couple of years. So you have to do something to change the mind-set of the 17-year-old kid who wants to go to one of these SEC schools or wants to go to a Pac-12 school or something like that.

“Obviously, it’s going to rub some people the wrong way, but I think it’s necessary. If they love the university, like we all do, they should understand that it’s time to grow and build. I think this is the right thing to do.”

Kelly hinted at “information boards” coming to the stadium as well, an unofficial and not surprising hint that video boards are coming sooner than later. All these changes that will begin to update both the stadium and the university, as the new Campus Crossroads transformation begins.