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Industry experts weigh in on Super Bowl LVII turf

February 17, 2023

Oklahoma State University’s Tahoma 31 bermudagrass became a household name overnight following Super Bowl LVII — and for all the wrong reasons.

Players from both teams and media pundits ripped the field conditions at State Farm Stadium in Phoenix, blaming the bermudagrass playing surface for slips and falls throughout the game.

But, a story from The Washington Post‘s Adam Kilgore posits that Tahoma 31 was not to blame. Instead, the NFL’s priority of the appearance of the turf, not its playability, was the main culprit.

State Farm Stadium is far from the only stadium to utilize Tahoma 31, according to Oklahoma State. The university says Dodger Stadium, Churchill Downs, Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium and Lincoln Financial Field — home of the Eagles — utilize the grass.

Mike Richardson, Ph.D., a horticulture professor at the University of Arkansas, was one of several industry professionals to weigh in on the grass on social media.

“Tahoma 31 was successfully used at Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville and Lincoln Financial Field in Philly for the entire season,” he tweeted. “Razorback stadium was selected (as) the (SFMA) college football field of the year.”

Furthering Richardson’s observation, Jason Faires, director of athletic fields at the University of Oklahoma, suggested the slippery conditions originated from ryegrass overseeding.

The Washington Post report backs up Faires’ suggestion with a quote from United States Golf Association agronomist Brian Whitlark.

“That led to a very dense ryegrass stand and a fairly high height of cut,” Whitlark told The Post. “The ryegrass was probably one inch when they were playing the Super Bowl. The players were basically playing on a slippery ryegrass surface.”

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