One of the dominant storylines coming out of last year’s Super Bowl between the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles was the issues players experienced with the grass playing surface at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. The players had issues slipping, which had a tangible impact on the game.
“I’m not going to lie: It was the worst field I’ve ever played on,” Eagles edge rusher Haason Reddick said after the Chiefs’ victory. “It was very disappointing. It’s the NFL. You would think it would be better so we could get some better play, but it is what it is. I don’t know. Maybe the league will look at it.”
The playing surface for Super Bowl LVIII at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on Feb. 11 will face a higher level of scrutiny as a result. Ahead of next month’s game, NFL representatives were asked about the preparation of the playing surface on a video call with reporters.
“The surface has been nurtured from the sod farm all the way to the Super Bowl. Its maintenance in Vegas is measured by a series of different tools and metrics,” NFL executive vice president Jeff Miller said Thursday. “Our field manager expert has been on top of this for many weeks and is on site frequently and will be throughout the next couple of weeks in anticipation of the game.”
Although it’s a dome, Allegiant Stadium — which is home to the Las Vegas Raiders and UNLV football — uses real grass for its NFL games. Just like State Farm Stadium, there’s a field tray outside of the stadium that’s rolled inside on game day.
Last season, The Athletic conducted an anonymous poll among NFL players to ask questions about a variety of topics. One question focused on whether there was credence to the heated debate over whether NFL stadiums should use grass or turf playing surfaces. Nearly 83 percent of the players polled stated that it was a “real concern” and that they would prefer grass playing surfaces. Thirteen teams played on grass at their home stadiums this season.
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As Super Bowl LVII showed, however, using a grass field doesn’t guarantee ideal performance. For Super Bowl LVIII, the NFL can’t afford to have a repeat occurrence.
“We have brought in — as we do each year — a brand new natural grass surface that is currently installed in the field tray outside Allegiant Stadium,” NFL EVP Peter O’Reilly said Thursday. “So, that has been in for a little bit now and is working through all of our standard testing procedures that will take place over the time from installation all the way up through that Saturday right before the game. Those adjustments and a core maintenance program are in place so we have an optimal field on game day. We have a great team maintaining it as we head up to the Super Bowl.”
Inside the fight over NFL playing surfaces
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