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Turf War: Field Turf or Grass?

This is always a debate this time of the season. So, lets take a look.

NCAA Football: Illinois at Purdue Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

It is always debated.

It is always controversial.

Should Ross-Ade Stadium go to Field Turf or stay natural grass?

I have been open about it, I would love Field Turf. When the field is dead brown for the junior day, you take the recruits to the press box, isn’t that a hard sell?

But, I am fine with grass also. But, maybe, Bermuda grass isn’t the way to go.

I know the turf science management plays a huge role in the maintaining of the field. Which I love. It gives the students that are going to school to obtain that degree memories that will last forever - they got to prep Ross-Ade Stadium for Saturday Football Games.

In 2006, Purdue went to Bermuda Grass. A grass that is naturally grown in the south. It makes Ross-Ade unique - not only are we a grass playing surface, we have a short speed surface in Bermuda.

Link to when Bermuda was installed.

I generally do not follow anything Barstool, but the other day, as most know, the Greater Lafayette Area was smacked with snow and ice. Barstool Boilers posted this:

Then they provided, well, evidence.

So, once the snow melts, there could potentially be, a, uh yea, on the field.

Again, personal preference, I tend to side with Field Turf. But, I am not like some - who are completely against turf or completely against grass.

While doing some research, I found that it is essentially 50/50 overall in terms of Grass to Field Turf.

In the Power 5 Conferences, there are 65 teams (counting Notre Dame), I found 34 teams went with Field Turf and 31 teams with Grass - The SEC and ACC skewed theses results greatly towards grass. In the B1G, we have 10 teams that have turf and only 4 teams that have natural grass. Of the Division 1 Land-Grant Colleges, I found that 21 of 36 teams have field turf.

After doing research, here are some pros and cons of each playing surface.

Field Turf:

  • $850,000 to $1,000,000 Installation Costs
  • Low Maintenance Cost

While the initial cost is high, proponents claim that upkeep is much less expensive, dropping by some estimates from $35K to $5K per year. Some question whether artificial turf is as financially friendly as touted, citing the need for repairs, vacuuming, refilling and even watering, suggesting that the fields may not last as long as advertised, and raising the thorny problem of disposal.

  • Pesticide-free.

Unlike natural grass, artificial turf doesn’t require treatment with pesticides and fertilizers (note, however, the success some towns are having with organic grass fields).

  • Increased playability.

Artificial turf fields are much more durable than grass; because playability is much higher, they allow broader access; can be played on all the time; in time of scarce fields, they give youth sports organizations practice space they might otherwise not have; the problem of spring and fall rains which result in cancellation of numerous games and practices slated for grass fields is eliminated; one match on a muddy field can ruin the field for the rest of the season.

  • Saves water.

An average grass playing field uses about 50,000 gallons of water per week during the growing season.”

  • Heat hazard.

The heat-absorbing properties of an artificial field make it too hot to play on in extremely warm weather. On a 98-degree day, the temperature on the turf could rise to more than 120 degrees. A Brigham Young University study found that the surface temperature of synthetic turf at its football practice field was 37 degrees higher than the air temperature. Proponents point out that use of the fields can be managed to ensure that athletes aren’t playing at the hottest times of the day and are adequately hydrated; as a result, they argue, the higher temperature is more of a comfort issue than safety issue.

  • Bacterial breeding ground.

Medical experts have found that staphylococci and other bacteria can survive on polyethylene plastic, the compound used to make synthetic turf blades, for more than 90 days. Blood, sweat, skin cells and other materials can remain on the synthetic turf because the fields are not washed or cleaned.

  • From Juan “Being able to use Ross-Ade for other events - concerts, high school football games, etc.”

Grass Fields:

  • Traditional playing surface

Football was founded with playing on a grass surface. It is the more “traditional” route.

Turf is known to have more serious injuries leading to ACL and substantial knee injuries. Grass is known far more for smaller injuries, such as ankle sprains and muscle strains.

  • Lower Heat Levels.

Grass fields are known to not retain heat as drastically as a turf football field. In recent years, Turf fields have started to use other alternatives instead of the rubber pellets that were used when turf first came about, a popular option has been shreds of coconut shell - which reduces hit.

  • Higher Maintenance Cost

Between paying a field crew to care for the field - extra watering costs, pesticide, etc. It is more expensive on a yearly basis. But, the initial cost of turf is much higher than the initial cost of grass - unless you replace with an expensive type of grass.

  • Potential of late season rough surface

Late in the season, grass fields tend to get torn up - especially with early winter coming, such as snow and ice. In the south, late season grass generally is no issue. But the further north you go, the rougher the surface gets the later in the season. While easily damaged by heavy use or poor weather conditions, natural-grass fields are inexpensive and easy to repair; if they are vandalized with spray paint or other materials, the damage repairs itself as the grass grows.

  • Repairs

In the parts of the country with a severe winter, grass goes dormant by the middle of October, and field repairs must wait until spring. If the fields are seeded in late summer or early fall (depending upon the geographic area), they must be closed so that the grass can establish itself.

Former Purdue Safety, Albert Evans weighed in on the topic:

“Turf>grass ... for a defensive back it’s better the to plant your foot and know there is going to be traction. Grass gets you a lot of pulled groins and turned ankles because the grass gives and ground gets dug out. Also weather durable. Rain, Ice, snow.. turf holds. Sometimes after warm-up the grass would already be ragged. Especially if moist or rainy week. But for what we had, I think it was the better grass I played on. They took care of it. If it’s still grass. Only so much you can do.”

Former Long Snapper, John Finch also had a few things to say:

“The grass was great for the first few games of the year. I’m no turf management major guy but I feel like its tough to grow Bermuda year round in Indiana. The field was always super sandy for the last few home games. I would have to wipe the ball off prior to punts and field goals if the ref put it in a sandy spot. My understanding was that we will have grass forever since we have such a big turf management program.”

Former Defensive Lineman, Brandon Villarreal:

As far as the surface itself, I have no issue with either. Loved playing on both, just have to make sure that grass is manicured and maintained very well. There’s a difference between Penn St. and everyone else when it comes to a grass field. We had issues with our grass when I played at kept coming up in divots and always always kept a little longer because of the type of grass it was. From a financial standpoint, it makes sense to go artificial because the long term maintenance is less and you can focus your time on other areas.”


What should Purdue use in Ross-Ade?

This poll is closed

  • 65%
    Natural grass
    (273 votes)
  • 35%
    Field turf
    (147 votes)
420 votes total Vote Now