The Tennessee Titans will implement a new “cutting-edge” turf surface at their home stadium for the 2023 season.
The decision comes in response to a number of injury concerns surrounding the stadium’s current surface, which has been described as “incompatible” natural grass. This is largely due to Tennessee’s transitional climate zone, which makes it difficult for healthy grass to grow and thrive.
As a result, Nissan’s current playing field has been deemed unsafe by team officials.
The new turf to be installed in the stadium is called Matrix Helix Turf, a type of monofilament turf that contains an organic infill designed to retain moisture better than its rubber counterpart. It can produce temperatures 20-40 degrees cooler than traditional grass and due to its mineralized nature requires watering. The organic infill mirrors the surface Tennessee already uses in its practice facility and is becoming increasingly popular in neighboring practice facilities around the NFL.
“Ultimately, we came to the decision based on this data to switch to a monofilament surface with an organic infill that mimics the natural feel of grass while still getting the consistency and durability of field turf,” Titans President/CEO Burke Nihil commented .
The team’s head coach Mike Vrabel agreed.
“There is nothing more important than the health and safety of our players,” he said. “We had a lot of problems (with the grass at Nissan Stadium) after a certain part of the season. It’s hard to grow grass. It gets slippery. We’re putting in new grass, we’re trying to put in new sod and it’s smooth, you see guys slip. These are real things that I have witnessed in my time here. Our turf is not at the level of some of the other turf (in the NFL). …
“… We added this product inside the bubble and … the response has been very positive, very favorable for this surface versus the new technology that keeps coming out. We’re just watching our practices inside and how they feel and how they react to this product. … We are excited to be able to add this product to our stadium.”
Tennessee is certainly excited about its future with the new field and is confident it has done enough research on its safety.
But grass surfaces are extremely unpopular with NFL players, many of whom have pushed for all stadiums to use grass.
“I really think it’s time to go full grass in the league,” four-time MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers said in November. He wasn’t the only player to hold that view.
“You kind of feel the difference when you’re running,” Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook said. “If we can fix it, let’s fix it. Let’s provide the safest environment for us to go play in.”
Added Detroit wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown: “I really prefer playing on grass. It’s more forgiving, more natural and just feels better. It feels better on the joints, ankles and whatnot.” Jacksonville Jaguars safety Rayshawn Jenkins called artificial turf the equivalent of playing in a parking lot, saying, “I’m hitting the concrete. I don’t feel well.’
But Tennessee is adamant that this is not a traditional concrete surface.
“A properly constructed synthetic turf field with organic infill and underlayment is a better system than a mediocre turf field,” said Reed Seaton, president and CEO of Hellas Construction Inc. “Synthetic turf technology is now able to mimic a well-maintained grass field.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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