|Steelers to replace Heinz Field turf by Monday|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 22 November 2007 00:11|
The Steelers will put down a new grass playing field in time for Monday night's game against the Dolphins, but must wait until four Pittsburgh-area high school championship games on Friday and the South Florida-Pitt game on Saturday afternoon are played.
With intermittent rain forecast all week, the Steelers were concerned that the pounding their current field will take this weekend might create a poor playing surface on Monday.
``Our goal is to do everything in our power to provide the best possible conditions for both teams,'' Heinz Field director of management Jimmie Sacco said Wednesday in a statement. ``After considering the number of high school, college and pro football games being played at Heinz Field in November, combined with the possibility of inclement weather, we believe this is the best way to go.''
Running back Willie Parker complained of being unable to gain good footing during the Steelers' last home game, a 31-28 victory over Cleveland on Nov. 11. Monday night's game will be the 10th played at Heinz Field this month.
Several Browns players, including kicker Phil Dawson, said Heinz Field has the worst surface in the NFL.
The new sod will remain in place for the rest of this season. After this weekend, the only games scheduled at Heinz Field are Steelers' home games Dec. 2 and Dec. 16, though they could play multiple playoff games there in January.
Currently, Heinz Field has a hybrid surface of mostly natural grass interwoven with plastic fibers known as DD GrassMaster. Sacco said that field will not be torn up.
``We will continue to use our regular playing surface in the future, but we feel this option will provide for the most enjoyable game-day experience for both the players and the fans in the final games of the season,'' Sacco said.
The Steelers have resisted replacing their grass field with a grass-like artificial turf, as the New England Patriots did last year. The Steelers already have such a surface in the indoor practice complex they share with Pitt.
Despite complaints about Heinz Field's pockmarked sod and sparse grass, NFL players repeatedly specify a preference for grass fields rather than artificial turf during regular playing field surveys.