Turf in much better shape entering this week's FCS title game
FRISCO, Texas - The grass field at Toyota Stadium looked like a postcard Wednesday afternoon. In other words, it was almost the direct opposite of the field conditions in last year's Division I FCS national title game.
FRISCO, Texas – The grass field at Toyota Stadium looked like a postcard Wednesday afternoon. In other words, it was almost the direct opposite of the field conditions in last year’s Division I FCS national title game. Ideal turf will greet North Dakota State and Illinois State on Saturday when they meet for the championship. “It’s going to play fast,” said Tom Jones, vice president of complex management for FC Dallas professional soccer club, the stadium’s main tenant. “It’s going to be clean. When the cleats go into the ground, they come out clean. You want a fast track, especially for football.”
It was a natural grass nightmare in last January’s title game when the Bison and Towson University (Md.) routinely dug up large chunks of turf, the result of an unusual ice storm that blanketed the field for over two weeks in crucial growing time in the weeks leading up to the game. “It was brutal last year,” Jones said. “We had the worst winter in 30 years, and it’s hard to grow grass when it’s below freezing.” Not this year, which Jones called a “bumper crop” for growing the mostly Bermuda-grass surface. He said the weather was inclement for only one week this winter. Plus, officials took a different approach to make sure last year’s turf clumps didn’t happen again. Instead of replacing the turf as usual after the conclusion of the high school football season, it was overseeded with a mix that included rye grass. The fact the entire field is scheduled to be replaced next summer made it easier to do that. The middle of the field was replaced with a new product called “latitude Bermuda grass,” which touts its strength as having high tolerance to traffic. The entire field will use that grass next year. Meanwhile, the end zones were already painted – one with “Bison” and the other with “Redbirds” – which was a day or two earlier than the past three years. Jones said they wanted to beat the weather, which was very windy and cold on Wednesday. “It’s not good to be spray painting when it’s 30 mph winds,” Jones said. “There’s a lot of overspray.” In another move of protection, a tarp was placed over the field on Wednesday. “Just in case we get a little snow or ice,” he said. “We want to keep it looking pretty for Saturday.”