Super Bowl planners seek to avoid turf troubles
Less than four weeks from the Super Bowl, the field is nearly ready to be played on. That's thanks to long days at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California. A crew is working to install fresh sod and make every necessary tweak in regards to weather and other potential issues.
No turf trouble this time. Not yet, at least.
Nor does NFL field director Ed Mangan expect it.
"We're in good shape the way we are," Mangan said. He noted that with the San Francisco 49ers out of the playoffs, it was most favorable for a timely transformation.
"Very smooth. The 49ers have been great. The complex has been great and everything so far is on schedule. We're kind of pushing forward. You could play on it today once we get it down. That's how strong it is."
Much of the 75,000 square feet of grass had begun to go down by early afternoon Jan. 11. The remainder was likely to be in within a day or two.
The NFL is using West Coast Turf sod for the first time since some Super Bowls dating back a decade or more, according to Mangan. That's largely based on geography. West Coast Turf operates out of California's Central Valley in Livingston.
West Coast supplied the previous grass - removed early last week - that wound up staying put and durable through the course of the recently completed 49ers season.
The Super Bowl grass is a hybrid Bermuda 419 over-seeded with perennial rye. It was grown on plastic sheeting, a positive change made at West Coast Turf, Mangan said.
"The Niners have addressed any of their issues," said Mangan, also field director for baseball's Atlanta Braves and working his 27th Super Bowl.
"We're kind of starting anew here with what we're doing. We do this on each one of the natural fields. We'll strip it completely. The field has done its job all season for them and it's done well. But for the Super Bowl, we always put in a new field."
Mangan visited a month ago and has been back in the Bay Area for a little more than a week. He said his staff is working 12 to 15 hours a day to be ready.
Mangan is checking the weather forecast hourly given the wet El Nino cycle in Northern California. The area recently had several years of drought. There are tarps to cover the field as necessary.
As of Jan. 11, about 10 people were working inside the $1.3 billion, second-year Levi's Stadium. About 30 more people will join the efforts in the next two weeks.
Mangan's crew will also work on manicuring and painting the practice fields at nearby San Jose State and Stanford. Those fields will not be re-sodded.
The Super Bowl teams each get a chance to walk-through on the new field.
"Weather we can't control. Time management is a matter of getting everybody who needs access to the field access to it," Mangan said.
"Trying to do what we can when we can is a matter of trying to stay out in front of the weather.
"Wednesday, Thursday, Friday now look like rain. So we're trying to speed up the process here and get ready and ahead of the weather."
CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
What turf troubles do planners worry about?
Write your answers in the comments section below