Raiders Maintain the Tradition of Football with Natural Grass Field

Since November 2017, the Oakland Raiders have been hard at work building their home stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada. Their field surface of choice is natural grass, driven by the insistence of Raiders owner Mark Davis.

“That’s the tradition of football,” says Tom Blanda, SVP of Stadium Development and Operations for the Raiders, in an episode of the Raiders video series, From the Ground Up. “You walk out on the field and you breathe in, and you smell real grass. That can’t be replicated with an artificial field.”

The Raiders have taken great care to bring this tradition to life. This year, the field maintenance crew has been testing different turf grasses on-site to determine which works best in the Nevada climate, according to a Las Vegas Review-Journal interview. The 9,500-ton field will sit on a sliding field tray that will move in and out of the stadium between games so that Allegiant Stadium can accommodate UNLV games and non-football events. At 4 feet deep, the tray will hold layers of roots and sand, irrigation and drainage utilities, and electrical heaters to keep the sod healthy year-round.

The Raiders’ natural grass field highlights an important decision that athletic teams need to make for the success of their players. According to data from the NFL between 2012 and 2016, 82.4% of NFL players think that synthetic turf is more likely to contribute to injury. Researchers of the study found that noncontact injury rates to the lower body were between 27% and 103% higher on synthetic turf than natural grass. The full case study is available within our TPI resources.

In addition to safety considerations, athletic teams choose natural grass for the values of tradition and player experience, as voiced by the Raiders leaders.

Follow the Raiders stadium build in the video series From the Ground Up, which shares behind-the-scenes stories of the stadium builders, technologies and milestones. We can’t wait to see the team take the field!

About the Author

Casey Reynolds, PhD
Dr. Casey Reynolds is the Executive Director at Turfgrass Producers International

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