News broke Friday how the Houston Texans have made a quick decision to ditch the grass surface at Reliant Stadium, and transition to artificial turf. The move from a natural to a synthetic surface stems from the poor footing which was reported in the team's Week 1 game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Texans might be the first team to transition from grass to turf in the middle of a season, but they are far from the first team to make the transition. The Baltimore Ravens made the move shortly after M&T Bank Stadium was opened and the New England Patriots were told by the NFL they should make the switch at Gillette Stadium.
With news of playing surfaces being mainstream news Friday, as always, the Heinz Field surface the Pittsburgh Steelers call home gets brought up. Not many stadiums see as much play as the Heinz Field sod, but the Steelers have historically sided with the natural surface rather than going to artificial turf.
The surface at Heinz Field has come a long way, even in the past decade. Everyone remembers the Steelers Monday Night Football game against the Miami Dolphins which ended 3-0, and was a low light for the stadium and the playing surface. I mean, how can anyone forget the following play:
However, knowing what went on the field, and the changes they've made, are a large reason why the surface is reportedly better today, than ever before.
At the time of the above play, the Steelers deployed a unique surface called DD Grassmaster, which essentially is natural grass with artificial turf sewn into the sod. Although reportedly more durable than standard sod, those reports were not based on a field with as much traffic as Heinz Field.
After the WPIAL playoffs, University of Pittsburgh and the Steelers had all demolished the surface, the Steelers decided to make a decision, and that was to put sod overtop the Grassmaster surface. When heavy rains fell in Pittsburgh, well you see what happened to the surface.
A few years ago the Steelers decided to ditch the DD Grassmaster surface, and stick to a very basic sod surface. The standard sod gets torn to shreds easier, but the Steelers decided to re-sod the field at least three times throughout the NFL regular season. There is fresh sod put down before every season, mid-way through the year, and after the High School playoffs and Pitt is done with the field. This provides a fresh surface for the Steelers in the final month of the season.
Would the Steelers make the switch from grass to turf? According to the front office, the only way a transition would be made is if the NFL forced them to do so. Although, if the NFL told Art Rooney II the only way Pittsburgh would ever possibly host a Super Bowl was if they had an artificial surface, it could entice the owner to make the move.
It would be weird seeing Heinz Field with the fake surface on game days, and despite what many coaches and players might complain about, the Steelers are sticking with sod for the foreseeable future.