The Ravens boast that their new $220 million stadium will be a state-of-the-art complex, featuring the newest in modern technology, along with a new mascot and new group of cheerleaders, but yesterday the focus was on old grass.
The Ravens gave their new downtown stadium a touch of Memorial Stadium tradition when workers ceremoniously began laying down the turf yesterday.
About half the 100,000 square feet of SportGrass, a blend of authentic and synthetic Bermuda grass, being laid at the new stadium was transported by tractor trailers from Memorial Stadium. The other half was transported from Florida, as was the Memorial Stadium turf when the field was resodded before the Ravens played their first preseason game in August 1996. Some of the Memorial Stadium turf was harvested and used to resod two practice fields at the Ravens' training facility at Western Maryland College.
"You just don't throw something like that away," Ravens head groundskeeper Vince Patterozzi said. "The good thing about it is that it allows the team to practice on Bermuda grass during most of the summer at training camp and down here on the game field."
HTC Also, some of the sand underneath the turf was taken from Memorial Stadium. The sand allows the field to drain better.
Also underneath the turf are several miles of three-quarter-inch pipes, which will heat the field so that on a day when it is 10 degrees below zero, the field will be 55 degrees. Portions of the heating system were also taken from Memorial Stadium.
"As a whole, it is a significant savings to everyone involved by bringing that material over here," Patterozzi said.
He said this athletic turf has proved dependable in other stadiums.
"There is a 20-year warranty on this grass, so that it won't break down through fertilizer use and things like that," Patterozzi said. "As we all know, if you get 20 years out of a field, that's pretty good. Some don't even last a year."
The grounds crew began laying the turf Sunday afternoon and plans to finish Thursday evening, when they'll begin watering it. Bermuda grass grows rapidly and should grow to full length in about 10 days, according to Patterozzi. The crew will then begin treating it with fertilizer and cutting it in preparation for the Ravens' first preseason game, Aug. 8 against the Chicago Bears.
The Ravens also tested their Smartvision video screen, playing highlights from last year. The screen is 100 feet across and can show six NFL games live as well as replays and statistics. The stadium will be open before and after Ravens games, and fans will be welcome to watch other games.
Pub Date: 6/16/98