Oregon school unveils the ‘Black Hole,’ nation’s first outdoor black football field

In recent years, America's football-mad public has been treated to the novelty of blue football fields, red football fields and even purple and gray striped playing surfaces. Yet never before has a team had the unorthodox temerity to unveil an all-black football field … until now.

West Salem's football team on the school's unique new black field — AP
West Salem's football team on the school's unique new black field — AP

Ladies and gentlemen, meet the West Salem (Ore.) High Black Hole, the new home turf of the West Salem football team.

As reported by the Statesman-Journal, the Black Hole was officially unveiled on Friday, when South Medford (Ore.) High visited the Titans for both teams' season opener. The field is believed to be the only black field in use in outdoor football in the country; as noted by Off the Bench, the Nebraska Danger of the Indoor Football League also host their games on a 50-yard black field.

"It never dawned on me that it would mean as much to this community as it does," West Salem athletic director Bryan Sutherland told the Statesman-Journal. "From what we understand it's the only black field in the country. That's really taken off over here."

Amazingly, pure novelty and fan excitement weren't the primary motivating factors behind West Salem's choice of black for a field color. Rather, the school was offered a price break of nearly $150,000 if it installed a black field rather than a green one, with those savings reflected in FieldTurf Inc.'s ability to avoid having to use dyed synthetic turf in its installation.

The "Black Hole" features sideline sponsor logos ... in color of course — AP
The "Black Hole" features sideline sponsor logos ... in color of course — AP

From the moment of that offer on, West Salem went full steam ahead with the school's new black turf identity. The turf features lines for the school's boys and girls lacrosse teams sewn into the black surface, and also a green script "West Salem" and "Titans" in green in the two end zones, and the 50-yard center "WS" logo, also in green.

Everything else is black. Well, everything except for the team's uniforms. While West Salem has traditionally played in an all-black outfit, the school special ordered new green home jerseys to avoid any complaints of trying to gain a competitive advantage by blending in with the background field, a charge which was leveled at New Braunfels (Texas) Canyon High after it installed an all-red surface in fall 2011.

Still, that was a small side expense for a school which couldn't be more excited about a rather unique new twist to its own version of America's fall pastime.

"I think it's cool that we have a field that's uniquely different," West Salem football coach Shawn Stanley told the Statesman-Journal. "The goal was not to have something nice or have something different, but to have something that is safe for our team and safe for our opponents and the community."

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