SBD/August 22, 2014/Facilities

Levi's Stadium Gets New Sod, But Still Needs Permanent Solution For Regular Season

It is unclear whether the Stadium Authority will be liable for the cost of the new grass
Sunday's Chargers-49ers preseason game at Levi's Stadium will be played on a "new grass surface," as a "wide 100-yard section that runs down the spine of the field was removed" on Thursday, according to Eric Branch of the S.F. CHRONICLE. The original sod was "provided by West Coast Turf." The California-based turf company also "provided the sod at the Rose Bowl" and is in "every natural-turf professional stadium in California." The 49ers "took over the maintenance after the sod was installed." It is "believed that West Coast Turf is providing the new grass" at Levi's Stadium (S.F. CHRONICLE, 8/22). CSNBAYAREA.com's Matt Maiocco noted at the time of its installation, the sod, "known as Bandera Bermuda, was selected for its ability to hold up under frequent usage." But after just "one small concert event, a soccer match and an NFL game, the turf was considered unsafe for the 49ers on Wednesday to conduct a practice" (CSNBAYAREA.com, 8/21). In San Jose, Mike Rosenberg notes the sod the team is installing is "meant as a temporary fix and cannot generate the deep roots needed for the field to withstand a beating long term." The 49ers "declined to provide media access to the publicly-owned stadium or answer questions on Thursday," and asked the team's "outside turf grower not to comment." The club also "took down the stadium's live cam for the first time since construction began 2½ years ago." It is not yet known "how the team will sod the field for its primetime regular-season opener on Sept. 14" against the Bears or whether the stadium's "sand base contributed to the issues, and if the public Santa Clara Stadium Authority will be on the hook for the costs." The 49ers were set to become "one of the first NFL teams to use the Bandera Bermuda strain for a full season" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 8/22).

NOT A BIG DEAL: ESPN's Tony Kornheiser acknowledged replacing the sod before the stadium holds its first regular season game "sounds like something," but said, "It's grass. You can go to a sod farm anywhere in America, you can get new grass every single day if you want to. Both teams have to play on the same field. This is nothing." ESPN's Jason Whitlock said, "When you say $1.3 billion, I expect the sod and the grass to be right. ... The number one thing that you want in a football stadium is the field to be properly sodded with grass" ("PTI," ESPN, 8/21). CSNBayArea.com's Andy Dolich said it is not "that big a deal" in terms of hurting either the stadium or the 49ers because the "key is player safety, and they've made a decision, they're replacing the field." Dolich added, "I do think it is a little bit ironic that they talk about sustainability a lot with this stadium, that they haven't been able to sustain this field for more than three events" ("Yahoo Sports Talk Live,' CSN Bay Area, 8/21).
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