Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Rolling Out the Red Carpet

By Bowen Hobbs

Back in February, Eastern Washington University announced it would be rolling out the red carpet. No, the school wasn't inviting Hollywood A-Listers for a celebrity gala; it was literally going to install a red turf football field. And they've already started installing it. Apparently, inspired by Boise State's "Smurf Turf", the school was looking for a way to market itself and increase ticket sales. So far, there are four collegiate football programs in the NCAA with unusual turf designs: Eastern Washington (red), Boise State (blue), the University of Oregon (two-tone green), and Division II University of New Haven (also blue).

While I applaud the team's initiative, the bright playing surface does raise some questions:

• Will the Eastern Washington players be able to see each other during games?
It's hard to say because red has never been done before, but I would have to guess yes. Teams wearing green while playing on the old AstroTurf seemed to do fine, while Boise State wears head-to-toe blue at home and has played well enough to join the Mountain West Conference. I think the players will get used to it (at least the EWU players will), especially if they get some practice time on the new field before their first game against Montana, who has been very vocal about their dislike of the crimson surface. I think it could help visibility if EWU changed to white helmets, as they currently wear red domes, but it doesn't seem to be a deal-breaker.

• Will the players be able to see the ball?
This has never been an issue with the green- and blue-turfed schools, since there is plenty of contrast between those cool hues and the brown of the ball, but what about the lighter-reddish-brown of the ball against a red background? I still think the players will adapt, especially those at EWU, they will have the experience of practices and multiple home games to help. In addition, if Vinny Testaverde, who is colorblind and has difficulty differentiating between greens, browns, reds, and oranges, can have a successful career in the NFL, I think the players should be fine locating the ball against the blood-colored surface.

• Will the referees be able to see how much blood a player has lost in the event of an on-field injury?
This was brought up by people over at Montana, and it's a tricky question. For starters, most football injuries that I have seen (and I have seen plenty in my football-viewing life) don't really involve blood. They include damage like ligament tears, muscle pulls, broken bones, and concussions. But in the rare situation that a player is bleeding on the turf, I would think the blood would differ in hue from the field enough to show some visual difference at close range.

• Will the turf fade? If it does, will it fade all the way to pink?
First off, red generally does not fade to pink, it fades to an orangey-cantaloupe color. Pink is at a different place in the color spectrum since its hue is just as close to purple as it is red. Second, FieldTurf (the red turf suppliers) has assured the university that the field will not fade drastically. It will only become a lighter shade of red over time.

• Will the red field cause eye strain for viewers?
This is actually a possibility, especially on TV, as the red in the RGB spectrum (which almost all TVs use) will be saturated in large quantities. But EWU is only drawing about 5,000 in attendance per home game, so the chance of a televised game would be rare, at least in the near future.

Overall, I love the idea. Granted, I'll have to see how it looks during a game, but EWU has generated more publicity than quite a few teams, and probably all of it Big Sky Conference opponents since the announcement. Part of this publicity has been the desire for sports media and others to nickname the field. here are some of the names being tossed around:

"The Slaughterhouse"
"The Blood Rug"
"The Bordello Bowl"
"The Lava Pit"
"Hell on Turf"
"The Red Zone"
"The Red Sea"

And here are some nicknames I've come up with for the newly re-named Roos Field:

"The Red Carpet"
"Field of Screams"

EWU's switch to red turf has caused a stir at other schools as well. There are rumors that Michigan State will get "Spartan Green" turf for the upcoming season, and LSU played an April Fool's joke stating it would switch to a purple field. It will be interesting to see if colored turf becomes a trend, and if it does, which schools will make the switch. Virginia Tech is generally willing to aesthetically go out on a limb, and burgundy turf could look pretty cool, with orange endzones, of course. And TCU could really add to its notoriety with a purple field, while either San Diego State or Idaho could create an intimidating environment with black turf. Utah State or Nevada with a navy field? North Carolina playing on baby blue? The possibilities are endless.

Today's Double Play MLB Design starts with the Milwaukee Brewers' current opponent, the San Francisco Giants. The Giants already have a very solid and timeless identity, so I didn't want to change too much of what they currently use. But that doesn't mean their brand is perfect. I kept their primary logo, and updated the SF logo to better match the team's typography. The tertiary logo is also updated from this. The biggest change is that the SF in the middle is now black and matches the typography of the primary logo. In addition, I have added shading to the ball, and made the seams orange to be consistent with the primary logo. Lastly the typeface of SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS around the perimeter of the logo is no longer Copperplate. Instead, I have used a sans serif typeface with similar proportions that does not include the awkward serifs that Copperplate is known for. As for the uniforms, I made sure to keep the Giants' signature off-white home jerseys. The team single-handedly brought the cream color into baseball and has since been imitated by the Phillies and Indians in the capacity of alternate jerseys. I did however edit the striping on the jersey, moving the trim off the edge of the collar and sleeves in addition to beefing up the sleeve trim for a splash of color. I also changed the sleeve patch from the primary logo to the tertiary because it was redundant to put GIANTS on the jersey twice. The home alternate jerseys is black with orange type. The away uniforms start with a warm grey base, instead of the standard grey the team currently uses. Furthermore, I have ditched the SAN FRANCISCO in block letters that adorned the team current roads for the SF logo, akin to what the team wore in the 80s. I have also placed the primary logo on the sleeve in lieu of the team current SF-circle patch, once again to remove redundancy. The away alternate jerseys, like the home alt, is black with orange type, but uses the SF logo. The Sunday Alternate is where things get different. Inspired by the 1911 New York Giants World Series uniforms, I developed an all-black look that is paired with a large SF on the sleeve and an orange belt. Since baseball is due for more originality in its uniforms, I see this as a fresh, new way of embracing the sport's long history.

Up second, we have the Chicago White Sox. The Southsiders have had numerous identities and color schemes throughout their history. However, in 1991 they went with a black/silver color palette and haven't looked back since. The black/silver scheme works well because it is unique (until the Rockies, Marlins, and Jays copied it) and neutral. My primary logo is based on this gem that the team used from 1949 to 1970. I cleaned up the rendering and shading of the winged sock and placed it over a diamond that makes the O in SOX. The secondary logo is a take on another classic and features a big S with a small O and X. The tertiary is a partial of the primary and appears as a sleeve patch on the home and away jerseys. For the uniforms, I wanted a style that said "Chicago" and came up with a subtle pinstriped look that is reminiscent of the Al Capone days. The home uniforms use silver pinstripes and feature the Big S logo emblazoned on the chest. Across from the logo, on the right chest, the player's number appears in a Tuscan-style typeface. The home alternate jersey is black and features subtle pinstripes as well. The away uniforms are grey with white pinstripes and CHICAGO across the chest. The player's number appears below the wordmark on the left. The away alternate jersey is also black with subtle pinstripes, but uses grey type instead of white. The Sunday Alternates are all-black with a white cap for a turn of the century (1900s, that is) look that celebrates the team lengthy history. The Big S logo appears on the chest, while the player's number takes up residence on the hip of the pants, a la the 1980s Sox. The uniforms also use simple white trim around the sleeves and down the pants, as well as a white belt, to break up the black.

Feel free to leave a comment regarding specialty colored turf, the designs above or anything sports branding related.


  1. Old blog so might not read this but I'll try anyway.

    Love the design you made! What font did you use for the S and X? The old flying sock is my favourite Sox-logo so this would have been a welcome change ;)

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