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Lincoln Financial Field prepares turf in anticipation of Premier League match

July 18, 2023  - By


Photo: Daniel Burke Photography

Photo: Daniel Burke Photography

Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pa., has plenty to look forward to this summer.

Tony Leonard

Tony Leonard

In addition to traditional preparations for the NFL season, the stadium will host the Premier League, the highest level of the English football (or as Americans call it, “soccer”) league system consisting of 20 clubs, on July 22-23.

Last April came the announcement that the Premier League will have its first-ever pre-season tournament in the U.S. Six clubs will travel to play in five major cities for nine matches.

The tournament will start at Lincoln Financial Field, where Chelsea F.C. faces Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday, July 22. Matches of Fulham vs. Brentford and Newcastle United vs. Aston Villa will take place on Sunday, July 23.

“Anytime we can show off our field, our grounds department, the city of Philadelphia and what we’re capable of on a world stage is awesome,” says Tony Leonard, director of grounds for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Preparing the field

In preparation for the upcoming match, Lincoln Financial Field partnered with FMC, a chemical manufacturing company based in Philadelphia. FMC will be the presenting sponsor and official turf care provider.

Some of FMC’s specialties include crop nutrition and agriculture, as well as products for the sports turf, golf and lawn care industries. The company employs 6,600 workers at over 100 sites worldwide.

Photo: Daniel Burke Photography

Photo: Daniel Burke Photography

Leonard and his team incorporate the FMC product line into their sod maintenance practices. Depending on the forecasted weather, crews will utilize most FMC fungicide products such as Fame (a broad-spectrum fungicide that controls diseases in turf and ornamentals), Kalida (which protects against leaf spot, fairy ring and take-all root rot) and Serata (a Pythium control product with the active ingredient of picarbutrazox).

With all the different events on the field during the summer, he appreciates the help and products FMC provides for the turf. Some of these different events include concerts from Beyoncè and Luke Combs.

Photo: Daniel Burke Photography

Photo: Daniel Burke Photography

“Everything that we do happens at our sod farm in conjunction with the folks at FMC,” says Leonard. “We can list out a good program that will allow us to put the healthiest surface in. So, when the players play, they’ll compete on turf at its highest level.”

Leonard explains that planning for the event took place over six months. Over those months, the schedule develops. They start looking at farms to identify the need for a hundred thousand square feet of sod. They ended up working alongside Tuckahoe Sod Farm in Hamilton, N.J.

For the Premier League match, Lincoln Financial Field will use Kentucky Bluegrass, a northern climate grass, for the turf. It is like the turf in most European and English Premier League stadiums and fields. During the NFL season, Leonard installs Tahoma Bermudagrass.

Mowing for the former is about an inch or 7/8 inches. That is the optimal height for Kentucky Bluegrass, Leonard says. For the NFL season, field maintenance is around 5/8 to 3/4 inches. Mowing occurs daily.

“It is very critical for us to get it right for the players,” says Leonard. “For the NFL season, we need turf that can withstand a 300-pound lineman blocking another 300-pound lineman. All in all, we are looking out for both athletes at both levels. Whether it’s an NFL player or a soccer athlete, it is about the most stable and playable surface that will provide ball roll consistency.”

Photo: Daniel Burke Photography

Photo: Daniel Burke Photography

Why the anticipation?

The Premier League Summer Series is part of its ongoing commitment to U.S.-based soccer fans. Along with the tournament and matches, the League will work with community organizations in each city. It will help establish a program of youth and community soccer initiatives.

“I think it will be a great event,” says Leonard. “We’re excited to have these events at Lincoln Financial Field. The city is very excited to bring in some world-class soccer. It’ll be a fun time here in Philadelphia.”

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