Natural grass installed over artificial turf for European soccer match

September 16, 2013  - By

When two famed European soccer clubs Real Madrid and Inter Milan visited St. Louis in early August to play an exhibition match at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis nearly 55,000 fans saw a great match. It reportedly was the largest crowd to ever see a soccer match in St. Louis, or for that matter the entire state of Missouri.

Heartland Turf Farms

A field of Kentucky bluegrass at Heartland Turf Farm in Columbia, Ill., is readied for harvesting. Photo courtesy of Heartland Turf Farms

What created added anticipation for the match was the fact that the organizers wanted the game to be played on a natural grass surface. The Edward Jones Dome is the home of the NFL’s St. Louis Rams and they play on an artificial surface.

The challenge: Cover the existing synthetic turf with a natural grass field for the game and have it removed immediately afterwards. The Motz Group in Cincinnati, Ohio, which known for delivering innovative solutions to the sports field industry, received the call and began to put things in motion.

Approximately three weeks before the game, they contacted Heartland Turf Farm in Columbia, Ill., and requested an opportunity to look at Heartland’s field of Kentucky bluegrass. According to Heartland owner Tom Keeven Sr., they liked what they saw, made a few recommendations on how to prepare the bluegrass for the Dome, and the project was off and running.

Heartland Turf Farms

Workers harvest the first of more than 600 Big Rolls to be delivered to the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis. Photo courtesy of Heartland Turf Farms

Heartland reports that the total square footage of turfgrass required for the project was close to 95,000 square feet. They started harvesting more than 600 Big Rolls of turfgrass, weighing approximately 2,500 pounds each on the Tuesday and Wednesday prior to the game. The turf was cut 1.5 inches thick to ensure added stability on the playing field. The Motz Group started its installation at the Dome on Wednesday. By Saturday, the field was ready for play.

So what happened to all that turf that had to be removed following the game? Keeven had the turf trucked back to the farm, where it was laid out and tilled back into the soil in preparation for seeding.

For interested soccer fans, Real Madrid beat Inter Milan 3-0.

About the Author:

Turfgrass Producers International – TPI

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