NFL grounds managers getting a kick out of the Sidekick

November 21, 2014  - By

New product from Green Source is catching on quickly with grounds managers needing to quickly resod

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The Sidekick pushes the sod into place at Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Philadelphia Eagles.
Photo: Tony Leonard

It’s a bad scenario: A concert is held on Friday and a football game is on the calendar for Sunday. Turf managers for NFL stadiums know what it’s like to have to resod a field in a short amount of time.

Each member surely wishes they had a sidekick to help support them. Someone — or something — to assist them while they pushed (and pushed) the sod in place with a spiked rake, knowing time was their enemy.

As president of Green Source, a sod installation contractor, Paul Carlson struggled with time constraints and manpower of installing sports fields. They often needed to be completed in two to three days.

Seams between the rolled-out thick-cut sod were inevitable, and the safety of the players is always at stake.

Thus, he devised the Sidekick.

The Sidekick began in 2011 as an attachment to Green Source’s sod installation machines, and that’s how it was used for the first two years.

Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears, was the first to receive the Sidekick treatment. And it was a hit. Now, the Sidekick has all of its claims approved and is expecting patents to be issued in December under its own entity, Sidekick USA.

“Now what we’re doing is putting them on to the side of small tractors so we can have full warranties and product liability on them,” Carlson says.

Thanks to word spread by Ken Mrock, head groundskeeper for the Chicago Bears, the Sidekick has built rapport with a notable list of NFL field managers. The list includes Tony Leonard, director of grounds for the Philadelphia Eagles, and most recently Matt Greiner, head groundskeeper for the San Francisco 49ers. The Sidekick also installed the Jacksonville Jaguars’ EverBank Field.

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Photo: Tony Leonard

The main benefit of the Sidekick is it prevents side seams. It can shrink the size of the seams by an inch or two, according to Leonard, a long-time Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA) member who has been with the Eagles for about 15 years.

“From a time standpoint it helps because it keeps the guys fresh, especially during those long resod projects over a few days,” Leonard says. “The end product is better when the Sidekick is being used.”

The field at the 49ers’ Levi’s Stadium needed to quickly be resodded before the season. So, what did they do? They paid for a Sidekick to be overnighted via FedEx.

Not only does the end product practically make seams disappear, according to Leonard, but it also keeps the grass strong because it never touches it.

“Usually when using a plate with spikes or with rakes, someone is going to tear the grass at some point over a two- to three-day project,” Carlson says. “Everyone gets tired.”

The Sidekick won the STMA’s 2013 Innovative Award for substantially enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of the sports turf manager, and make playing surfaces safer and more playable for athletes.

“At the end of the day, knowing that when a player walks out on the field and looks for seams, I know they are not going to find anything wrong with the playing field,” Leonard says.

Carlson is looking toward the future of the product, and is setting the bar high. “An eventual goal is to have it endorsed by the NFL,” he says.

Joelle Harms

About the Author:

Harms is the Digital Media Content Producer for North Coast Media. She completed her undergraduate degree at Ohio University, earning a Bachelor of Science in Journalism and Creative Writing Specialization from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. Harms specifically creates content for NCM’s Golfdom, GPS World, Geospatial Solutions and Athletic Turf digital properties including eNewsletters, social media and websites. She can be reached at jharms@northcoastmedia.net.

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