Should MLS begin to transition to all grass surfaces?

Discussion in 'MLS: Commissioner - You be The Don' started by GrimmFreak, Jul 9, 2018.

  1. GrimmFreak

    GrimmFreak New Member

    Chelsea
    United States
    Jul 2, 2018
    I know it would be very difficult but I believe this is something the MLS needs to take a serious look at. Doing so would bring more quality international players as well as a better atmosphere to MLS stadiums.

    I understand that it is difficult not to mention costly to make these kinds of changes but I do think it would be in the best interest of MLS and American Football to begin focusing on this. Sure, some venues would be way off in terms of making changes and may not even make the list of planned adjustments... Seattle for instance, while I feel the pitch is a great detraction from what is an otherwise great atmosphere for a match (I live just outside the Emerald city) it would be impossible to do anything with said pitch unless the NFL's Seahawks were on board. Portland however is another story, after their stadium expansion it would be a good move (IMO to begin to look at what it would cost to install and all grass pitch and look at when the financials makes sense.

    I want to stress that I'm not asking that anything be done quickly and I would hope that this is at least on the MLS radar. What I do think is that the time has come to make this an effort that is (more) visible to the public, FIFA and most importantly top international players. I would think if pitch improvement were a visible priority even if the final goal is way off, it would be encouraging to international stars who might be wary of turf related injuries.
    Thoughts?
     
  2. Elninho

    Elninho Member+

    Oct 30, 2000
    Sacramento, CA
    Club:
    Los Angeles Galaxy
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    In general, transitioning to grass pitches is a good idea.

    The devil is in the details. Interesting you mention Portland -- it would actually be the most expensive place to transition to a grass pitch. There's a creek that runs directly under the stadium. My understanding is that, while a grass field is possible, it would require an extraordinary amount of environmental impact red tape compared to in most other locations. Natural grass isn't happening in Portland unless they build a new stadium.
     
  3. mschofield

    mschofield Member+

    May 16, 2000
    Berlin
    Club:
    Union Berlin
    Nat'l Team:
    Germany
    I'm not a fan of the number of field turf fields we're seeing these days, but I do think that those who can do grass generally are playing on grass.
    To my eyes, the worst looking field in MLS is Minnesota, which is temporary, I know. But it's somehow just almost exactly not the color of grass. It bugs me whenever I watch a game up there.
    That said, I'm not sure Minnesota is an easy place to make a grass field work, at least not in the early and late stages of the season. Same goes for New England. It's just an ugly field.
    It is better than the early MLS days, before we had the field turf and the artificial fields still wer rock hard and those high crowns for drainage. I played on a couple of those and they just sucked. The field turf I've played on has been much softer, I didn't notice the turf burn as much, But is that still a thing? In any case, turf sucked, esp in the rain.
    But I also see the problems SKC has in maintaining a playable field. They spend a couple million every year or two renovating that, fixing the drainage, returfing, etc, and it still plays like crap a couple times a year. I know the flooding in Houston was nothing near normal, but that poor resodded field was falling apart in large chunks last Sept and Oct.
    I prefer games on grass, so I am with you in a general sense. But i get the atttraction of field turf given the US climate(s).
     
  4. GrimmFreak

    GrimmFreak New Member

    Chelsea
    United States
    Jul 2, 2018
    looking at the list of MLS stadiums that use artificial surfaces it looks difficult here is my analysis of the various situations

    Seattle and Atlanta: NO
    Will not move due to the massive crowds drawn in the shared stadiums and grass fields will also not be installed for the same reason.

    Portland: NO
    Will not move due to environmental limitations and the investment being made to expand their existing (top notch other than the turf) venue

    Minnesota: YES
    New stadium is opening in 2019

    Vancouver: Recommended but unlikely.
    I am not a fan of BC place, the turf looks awful and the old style CFL stands (while I have not been to a game there) look to have a lot of poor sight lines. problem is Vancouver is one of MLS' bottom 3 value teams. Given their attendance, if they do build it should be a 22-25 thousand seat stadium with ways to expand in future.

    New England: Recommended
    I have a hard time understanding why the Revs have not had more of a push for a soccer specific stadium. The team value is mower middle range at 225 mil but could be helped by a better (more intimate venue). I think a 18-22 thousand seat stadium with the potential for expansion would be perfect.

    In conclusion: In order to enhance MLS' reputation and attractiveness to the international soccer community...

    New England: should be given a (generous 5-7 year) deadline by MLS to secure a soccer specific stadium and be advised that their progress will be tracked closely. I

    Vancouver: The league should commission a feasibility study to determine when a similar initiative can occur.

    Seattle, Atlanta and Portland: Should be placed on the back shelf so to speak. MLS should look for and consider options for changes and act on them if and when doing so is realistic.

    ALL new stadiums should have a grass pitch
     
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  5. GrimmFreak

    GrimmFreak New Member

    Chelsea
    United States
    Jul 2, 2018
    I see the attraction as well... Other leagues around the world have the same climate problems. Granted, they are better established than MLS but it's my contention that the MLS would go far in better establishing itself by prioritizing moves towards an all grass league
     
  6. newtex

    newtex Member+

    May 25, 2005
    Houston
    Club:
    Houston Dynamo
    You don't understand this? The Revolution is owned by the same people as the New England Patriots. They own Gillette Stadium and get the revenue from stadium events and other uses. It costs the Revs virtually nothing to play there and yet they generate revenue for the Krafts. Why would they go to the expense of building another stadium? Increasing the team value only does you any good if you are going to sell the team. The Krafts have given no indication that they plan to sell the team.
     
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  7. GrimmFreak

    GrimmFreak New Member

    Chelsea
    United States
    Jul 2, 2018
    Boy do I feel under informed.
    Still, my statement was more in regards to MLS pushing for such a thing, not the revs themselves. Still you're point changes things; pushing the them in that way might mean risking them selling the team at a lower rate dropping the value of said team while pulling a massive amount of money out from underneath them further removing that same value. So, in the final analysis your absolutely correct: this is something that would not be a good move at the present time
     
  8. JasonMa

    JasonMa Member+

    Mar 20, 2000
    Arvada, CO
    Club:
    Colorado Rapids
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Also there's absolutely no difference between CLink and Gillette. If you're going to demand one of those teams install grass to be fair you have to demand both. Attendance isn't a good enough difference considering New England used to average over 20K in the (distant) past.

    (I'd throw Atlanta in too but at least there you can make the case that the stadium had specific designs built in for MLS. There's no evidence of that in Seattle or NE despite what fans claim.)
     
  9. GrimmFreak

    GrimmFreak New Member

    Chelsea
    United States
    Jul 2, 2018
    I suppose it's a bit of a bummer that these big money entities have so much pull. On the other hand, if it weren't for their money and that of others like them we would have no league... Necessary evil?
     
  10. mschofield

    mschofield Member+

    May 16, 2000
    Berlin
    Club:
    Union Berlin
    Nat'l Team:
    Germany
    Do they?
    Let's look at the average high July temps for several MLS cities: Boston 81, Chihcago 84 and Minneapolis 83, and compare to Euro cities such as London, 74, Munich, 74 and Barcelona, 82. Then look at the average lows for January: Boston 22, Chicago 17 and Minneaplis 8, while London, 38, Munich 25 and Barca 40. Minneapolis is dealing with an average summer to winter difference of 75 (these are all f by the way) while Boston gets by with a 59 degree swing. Meanwhile Munich has the most difficult of the euro swings at 49 degrees, while London's is only 36 and Barca is 42.
    US cities have wild temp swings. LA doesn't, but they have grass and it's quite good grass. In the US there are cities like Denver where days with 40 degree swings aren't uncommon. As my brother in law here in Berlin notes, "If Germans had to deal with that we'd call in sick 40 weeks a year." (Germans do sick weeks usually, sick days, what's the point, you're still sick at the end of a day, and temperature swings are a primary cause of sick weeks).
    US climates are extreme: High highs, low lows, droughts and floods and much worse, hurricanes for example. In a former life, writing in the Midwest about the weather was a staple of my job Here, they write about weather in the US.
    Obviously, grass can be grown in the US, and wonderful playing fields can be maintained. But it is a lot more difficult to keep them up summer to winter, and it is therefore much more expensive. And then you have the Atlanta notion that it's simply too hot to ask fans to attend without at least holding out the possiblity of retracting the roof and controlling the climate, so you get an open roof shape which makes natural grass pretty much impossible.
    Scandanavian clubs here sometimes have fake grass as well, because natural grass is crazy difficult to keep up.
    So yes, I agree that natural grass is preferred. But I think that where it would work, teams have it.
    To summarize, people who chose to live in Minneapolis are insane.
     
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  11. KCbus

    KCbus Moderator
    Staff Member

    United States
    Nov 26, 2000
    Reynoldsburg, OH
    Club:
    Columbus Crew
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Ya think?

    Look, the guys owning the teams aren't stupid -- despite what some people will try to sell to the contrary. It's not exactly a trade secret that soccer matches are better when played on grass as opposed to turf. If having grass instead of turf was a more viable option for these clubs, they would have done it already.
     
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  12. adam tash

    adam tash Member+

    Jul 12, 2013
    its not black and white....these teams do a cost-benefit analysis and decide from there. some teams that could have grass but don't ....could very well have grass but simply havent put grass in yet.

    this is just another reason (lack of grass) why I do not want MLS to be in bed with the NFL...(a significant % of the turf seems to be from NFL owners/stadiums)

    I think the NFL and MLS do not always have parallel/overlapping interests and therefore, owners who own an NFL team and an MLS team are always gonna be suspect i.e. decision-making i.e thier MLS team vs their NFL....let's face it, an NFL team is taking the upper hand vs an MLS team...when owned by the same guy...and this is NOT an issue when dealing with an MLS owner who only owns an MLS team and not an NFL team.

    bottomline grass needs to be put in all MLS stadiums....and while we are at it....they all need to be proper dimensions...yankee stadium is a joke for soccer.
     
  13. GrimmFreak

    GrimmFreak New Member

    Chelsea
    United States
    Jul 2, 2018
    I agree to an extent. I think the New England situation is harmful to the Revs and I frankly don't think the ownership much cares. They are far more concerned with the NFL team and I do wonder if the MLS is just a write off for the most part. Seattle and Atlanta on the other hand, work well because the teams are very competitive and they play to huge crowds.

    In the end I think it has to be a case by case basis and we should also keep in mind, as has been discussed the benefit of the money NFL owners bring with them. I suppose with that in mind the NE situation is kind of a wash in my eyes.
     
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  14. Elninho

    Elninho Member+

    Oct 30, 2000
    Sacramento, CA
    Club:
    Los Angeles Galaxy
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    A good grass field is preferable to any turf field. I think that goes without saying. But a good turf field is better than a bad grass field.

    That's the weakness of NFL stadiums: it's extremely difficult to maintain a grass field in good condition with a NFL team playing on it, so any team in a NFL stadium is most likely playing on turf. In Seattle and Atlanta, that may be a worthwhile tradeoff, because they're actually filling NFL stadiums. New England is the one place where they seem to have all the disadvantages of sharing a NFL stadium and none of the advantages.

    Outside of NFL stadiums, Portland is sui generis because they would have to sacrifice a downtown location in order to play on grass.
     
  15. Gamecock14

    Gamecock14 Member+

    May 27, 2010
    Club:
    Chicago Fire
    Yup.

    NE has a bunch of factors that would prevent it from having grass. The primary reason being Bill Belichek and the Patriots. If you could put out a report saying grass would be better for the Patriots style of play, NE would have grass the next day.

    Even putting grass for 2/3 of the season would be tough because they would have to rip out the turf and re-install it, meanwhile hope that the grass somehow survives being put in around February only to be taken out in July so that the stadium has a few weeks to re-install the turf. The biggest problems would be cost and if grass can even be installed in the winter at that stadium.

    My local NFL team switched back to grass after a decade plus on turf. The one downside is that they stopped playing high school state championship games at the stadium because it is very hard to fix grass in Nov/December.
     
  16. jaykoz3

    jaykoz3 Member+

    Dec 25, 2010
    Conshohocken, PA
    Club:
    Philadelphia Union
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Anyone remember the state of Heinz Field a few years ago? That field was a wreck after a weekend of rain and High School Football playoffs.

    One alternative could be a turf/grass hybrid field. Not sure how expensive it is though.

    It's currently used in venues in England and in Europe.
    https://www.xtragrass-hybrid-turf.com/news-projects/
     
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  17. mschofield

    mschofield Member+

    May 16, 2000
    Berlin
    Club:
    Union Berlin
    Nat'l Team:
    Germany
    Jeebus. That's really impressive, if it works, which they insist it is. They claim it isn't that expensive on the website
     
  18. newtex

    newtex Member+

    May 25, 2005
    Houston
    Club:
    Houston Dynamo
    The Green Bay Packers and Philadelphia Eagles in the NFL have hybrid fields. It is a different brand than Xtragrass but it incorporates synthetic fibers to strengthen their grass fields. Green Bay is switching from Grassmaster to SISGrass but it is same concept. SISGrass was used at Luzhniki Stadium for the World Cup.

    https://www.sispitches.com/products/hybrid-pitch-sisgrass/
     
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  19. jaykoz3

    jaykoz3 Member+

    Dec 25, 2010
    Conshohocken, PA
    Club:
    Philadelphia Union
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I thought I'd seen it mentioned that Lincoln Financial Field had a hybrid turf but couldn't find any links to it. Thanks! :thumbsup:
     
  20. Elninho

    Elninho Member+

    Oct 30, 2000
    Sacramento, CA
    Club:
    Los Angeles Galaxy
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    If it's good enough for a World Cup final, it's good enough for MLS.
     
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  21. mschofield

    mschofield Member+

    May 16, 2000
    Berlin
    Club:
    Union Berlin
    Nat'l Team:
    Germany
    so to summarize, this thread topic is officially old men standing on the porch yelling at the kids that in their day nobody had or needed these personal music machines and we were better off, etc, etc. and no one is listening because they've all got earbuds in.
    To the OP, I was with you, a bit, but I am afraid this was an argument for a previous time. It very much looks as if the case against artificial grass, or at least hybrid turf/grass, fields has lost. A World Cup final is kind of the final nail.
     
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  22. Paul Berry

    Paul Berry Member+

    Notts County and NYCFC
    England
    Apr 18, 2015
    Beacon NY
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Which is why more and more top-flight clubs are installing artificial pitches in Scotland, Holland, Scandinavia, Russia and other countries.

    Some of the most famous clubs that have installed artificial turf over the last few years are Ajax, Feyenoord, Boavista, Young Boys and Red Bull Salzburg. AS Nancy played on turf when they were in Ligue 1. Most Swedish top-flight teams play on turf as do Norwegian and Finnish teams.

    Several top Dutch teams are moving back to grass due to players' worries about unproven cancer links.

    The Football League had a vote on allowing artificial turf a few years ago and the result was a tie. With recent improvements in turf and the increasingly extreme weather in England I think they will approve turf whenever they next vote.

    And when you consider that the vast number teams of teams in the US cities play on turf, most MLS teams train on turf, and most kids grow up playing soccer on turf, you have to wonder if the risk of injury is as great as it's cracked up to be.

    New York City replaced most of its grass pitches with turf a few years ago (to protests) and looking around the web I found that Berlin has 450 synthetic turf pitches.

    New England played on grass from 2002 to 2006. At the end of the Pats 2006 season the field was a patch of mud and they switched to turf.

    West Ham
    upload_2018-8-2_18-47-20.png

    MBS doesn't get enough direct sunlight...and United play the best football in MLS.
     
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  23. ???
    Neither play on art. turf. In fact Feyenoord for years on end are voted to have the best grass pitch of the league.
    I think you confuse the alarm in amateur soccer clubs about those risks to children.
    In my opinion it's rather strange to see a link with cancer and the art. turf (in fact it's about the surface beneath the artificial grass, made of granulted car tires), as in the air are more particles afloat from wear of car tires and asphalt then any pitch can deliver or even all pitches together in a day of traffic.
     
  24. mschofield

    mschofield Member+

    May 16, 2000
    Berlin
    Club:
    Union Berlin
    Nat'l Team:
    Germany
    Are you sure?
    As this site notes, they play on a hybrid field, they practice on fully artificial.
    "According to Ruud Gullit, former trainer at Feyenoord, the benefits of Desso GrassMaster are clear: "You can play under all circumstances. The field is always even. It is great for the football players themselves to know that this kind of turf is available. You can simply play great football on it, also because this turf constantly allows you to play with shorter studs. And it is better for players sensitive to injuries. I only hear positive things."
     
  25. Elninho

    Elninho Member+

    Oct 30, 2000
    Sacramento, CA
    Club:
    Los Angeles Galaxy
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    All that being said, I'm not sure I'd put hybrid turf in the same category as fully artificial turf. Hybrid turf lacks the rubber filler material that seems to cause many of artificial turf's problems (e.g. hot surface, purported cancer link) and still relies partially on grass roots for stability.
     

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