Seahawks Stadium Goes Natural for International Soccer

When the United States and Japanese men's national soccer teams take the pitch at Seahawks Stadium on March 29 for an international match (scheduled to air live on ESPN2), it will be business as usual. For veteran sports turf manager Jay Warnick and the maintenance crew at the stadium in Seattle, their business will be anything but usual.

Warnick and his staff will prove their versatility by managing more than 86,000 square feet of newly-installed hybrid bermudagrass sod from West Coast Turf that will sit on top of the new stadium's FieldTurf synthetic surface. The sod will be used exclusively for the soccer match and then removed.

"This is a pretty unique situation and a fun challenge," says Warnick, who oversees all aspects of field maintenance at Seahawks Stadium, which opened in 2002 as the home of the National Football League's Seahawks. "We … felt the bermuda sod would provide stability and footing in wet weather."

Almost two weeks prior to this much-anticipated “soccer-friendly" field addition, crews from West Coast Turf will converge on the stadium to lay 42-inch-wide rolls of 1-inch-thick hybrid bermuda sod. The total surface covered by the sod for this exhibition game will exceed World Cup match specifications at 78 yards x 123 yards.

"This is one of the few times a natural grass surface has been installed on top of a synthetic surface," says West Coast Turf Vice President Jeff Cole. "The fact that many professional soccer organizations and tournaments require a natural grass surface says a lot about the playability of natural grass.”

The field will be Tifway II hybrid bermuda sod, overseeded with Chaparral ryegrass. According to West Coast Turf representative Greg Dunn, the Tifway II bermuda sod will provide an excellent surface for the match because of its tightly packed leaves near the soil surface that help create a thick, closed canopy providing for a resilient cushion and carpet-like feel.

Because the sod will be installed just two weeks prior to the match, Dunn and Warnick expect the bermudagrass—a warm-season grass—to hold up nicely under the potentially rain-soaked and cool elements of the Northwest.

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