Tuesday, December 05, 2000

Bengals will get better grass next spring

Contractor will bear the cost

By Dan Klepal
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The turf at Paul Brown Stadium has been ripped up.
(Glenn Hartong photo)
| ZOOM |
        Hamilton County taxpayers finally got a good deal at Paul Brown Stadium — two fields for the price of one.

        Of course, the Cincinnati Bengals don't see it that way.

        The Bengals have been playing on a sub-par field for the past few weeks, as the Bermuda turf — the parts that haven't been ripped to shreds — is turning brown and dying.

        Cleveland contractor S.W. Frank will replace the field with Kentucky bluegrass next spring, at the contractor's expense.

        A drought last year left the bluegrass field that had been marked for planting inside Paul Brown Stadium dying. Doug Bradley, head groundskeeper at the stadium, said it's difficult to place a price on the sod and labor — but estimated the cost at $50,000.

        “Mother Nature threw us a curve this year,” Mr. Brad ley said.

        Because the playing surface was planted in July, Bermuda grass, which grows better in the summer, was used. Bermuda doesn't perform well in colder months, and that's why the field has been so slow to come back after games.

        “When we installed the Bermuda field this summer, we were looking for hot, sunny weather,” said Troy Blackburn, director of stadium development for the team. “We had a cool summer, and as a result the field got off to a slow start and never got any better.”

        The dying tundra has led several players — particularly the kickers — to complain about the poor playing conditions in the new $453.2 million facility.

        Mr. Blackburn said the grounds crew will try to grow Bermuda in the next two weeks and use heated “grow blankets” to help the fields grow.


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