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Greener Grass: The University of Phoenix Stadium’s Retractable Field - An Engineering & Agricultural Marvel

The University of Phoenix Stadium gives a glimpse at the future of sports arenas. The University of Phoenix Stadium gives a glimpse at the future of sports arenas.


For nearly 100 years, the football field has been a proving ground where boys become men, men become champions, and those champions, invariably, go to Disneyland. In that time, divisions have undergone facelifts, rules have been adjusted, and equipment has been infused with technological upgrades that would make Walter Camp fumble in astonishment. Still, one constant remains: There’s nothing like the feel of lush, fragrant grass beneath your feet … or wedged between the bars of your face mask after you’ve been driven headfirst into the goal line.

 The designers, engineers and groundskeepers at the University of Phoenix Stadium have gone to great lengths to preserve that tenet and maintain a perfect pitch for their Arizona Cardinals in the face of inclement weather and thousands of angry cleats. Yes, the stadium has a retractable roof, but that hardly qualifies as a technological breakthrough these days. The field rocks, quite simply, because it rolls.

Although the same technology is used at the GelreDome in the Netherlands, Veltins-Arena in Germany and the Sapporo Dome in Japan, the University of Phoenix Stadium’s fully retractable natural grass playing field is the first of its kind in North America. It weighs more than 8,000 tons and takes approximately 75 minutes to make a one-way trip into the confines of the $455 million facility. The sod is call Tifway 419 Bermuda, specially bred for high-traffic surfaces like athletic fields and chosen, in this instance, for its exceptional tolerance to drought and heat. It receives a 3/4-inch high-and-tight military cut, preferably from a five-gang reel mower, and is aerated throughout the year with a Toro ProCore 648, which you too can purchase for an equally green $20,000.

It’s been six long and arduous decades since the Cardinals won an NFL championship, but this fall they’ll suit up again in hopes of bringing the Vince Lombardi Trophy to Arizona. A red carpet would surely be in order. The green one will already be waiting.

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Arizona Cardinals fans get to watch their team in a state of the art stadium.
Last modified on Tuesday, 25 September 2012 17:01

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