There has been a lot of debate in recent years about what type of turf should be used in NFL stadiums. Some believe that artificial turf is the best option, while others believe that real grass is the only way to go. This post will examine the pros and cons of the grass types used in the NFL, and hopefully make you realize why every team should be like our Kansas City Chiefs and use the real stuff!
Bermudagrass is far and away the best choice for the turf of most NFL stadiums, including our own Arrowhead Stadium here in Kansas City. Many teams play in warmer climates, with conditions that are conducive to the growth of Bermudagrass. Even stadiums in cooler climates can benefit from the dense growth and durability of Bermudagrass. Climate-controlled stadiums and retractable roofs essentially make geography irrelevant when it comes to choosing a turf type.
Bermudagrass has fine-textured leaves that are a medium-green color, and it grows densely, making for a safer playing surface. The grass is able to withstand wear and tear from players and equipment, as well as from football cleats. Additionally, due to its root system, Bermudagrass often requires less water than some other types of turfgrasses, which means less work and wasted water when it comes to maintaining the field. Believe it or not, even the famous Soldier Field in blustery Chicago recently made the switch to Bermudagrass because of its superiority, breaking from the over 30-year-long usage of Kentucky bluegrass. Below are all the NFL stadiums that currently use Bermudagrass as turf:
Kentucky bluegrass is typically used in cool-season lawns for many homes and businesses, and it even appears in a few NFL stadiums. It has a medium texture, and its famously dark green leaves make for some of the most visually pleasing fields in all of sports. Kentucky bluegrass forms an excellent sod for cooler climates, as it can tolerate lower temperatures than some other types of turfgrasses. This makes it ideal for use in NFL stadiums located throughout the Midwest and Northeast regions of the United States. However, unlike the warm-season Bermudagrass, Kentucky bluegrass can not perform well out of its natural climate (despite climate control), which is why so few NFL stadiums use this turf.
The Green Bay Packers used Kentucky bluegrass at Lambeau Field for many years, which was perfect for the stadium known as the “Frozen Tundra.” Unfortunately, even the grounds teams at Lambeau found Kentucky bluegrass to be too difficult to maintain on its own, so the stadium now uses a hybrid of Kentucky bluegrass and the fake stuff. Today, only 3 stadiums in the NFL use pure Kentucky bluegrass as a playing surface, all of which are known for hosting wintery games:
The Desso GrassMaster system is a hybrid turf system that combines natural grass with artificial fibers to form an all-weather playing surface. It became popular due to its durability and low maintenance requirements. The system features millions of artificial fibers intertwined with natural grass, which helps keep the surface level and safe for players regardless of weather conditions. Though the majority of this playing surface is composed of Kentucky bluegrass, the artificial turf that is interwoven with it often causes issues for players that do not occur on a real grass surface (slipping, rolling ankles, less cushioning, etc.).
Sadly, many teams opt to use completely artificial turf rather than the Desso GrassMaster system, which is why this never gained too much traction in the NFL (punt intended). As we have said, real grass is the safest option for any playing surface, but even a hybrid would be better than 100% artificial turf. The only two NFL stadiums to use this system today are the following:
Artificial turf has been around since the 1960s and is used extensively at both professional and amateur sporting venues. It provides a consistent playing surface that can be used regardless of weather conditions. It’s also easier to maintain than natural grass and requires no watering, fertilization, aeration, and mowing. The downside, of course, is that artificial turf is much more dangerous for players than real grass.
If you recall our blog post about the turf used in MLB stadiums, you may remember that only 5 stadiums in the MLB use artificial turf. In the NFL, there are many different types of artificial turf, and the majority of NFL stadiums now use completely artificial turf as a playing surface. Some varieties are incredibly hard and are often described as a low-pile carpet you might find in ones home (AstroTurf). Others try to mimic real grass by incorporating thin, fake grass blades and tiny rubber pellets to imitate a softer soil (FiledTurf), which makes one wonder, why not just use real grass? The following is a list of all the stadiums in the NFL that use some variety of a completely artificial turf:
When it comes to the best turf for NFL stadiums, nothing beats real grass. It provides the most consistent playing surface and looks great on TV, while also providing a safer environment for players. Artificial turf has its advantages for the grounds crews at large stadiums, but it doesn’t even come close to the performance of real grass in terms of player safety or overall aesthetics.
At the end of the day, each NFL stadium must make its own decision when it comes to selecting a playing surface. Perhaps we are biased as a lawn care company, but if it were up to us, every single stadium in the NFL would use real grass as a playing surface! If you want to real deal for your lawn in the Kansas City area, call Heartland Turf & Landscape today at (913) 238-9278! Go Chiefs!!!
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