31 August 2009

"Real grass" requires sophisticated technology

And lots of money. Minnesota is building a new sports stadium in Minneapolis to replace the current Metrodome. This will be an open-air facility reminiscent of the old Metropolitan stadium where I watched the Vikings and Twins in the 1960s. In those days when it rained, the turf became muddy. No longer.

To build the new stadium, turf was shipped in a convoy of refrigerated trucks from Colorado to Minnesota. It's understandable, but it still boggles an old man's mind. Sports fans in Minnesota have been so excited by the prospect of real grass playing fields that they
"started showing up -- usually unannounced -- at the turf farm wanting a tour to see the new playing field."
The technology that supports the grass is schematically diagrammed above.

About 10 inches below the surface, a heating system has been installed to warm the field in the early spring or the early fall of October, assuming the Twins season extends that far.

There also will be a drainage system installed that will allow as much as 20 inches of water per hour to be whisked away from the playing surface.

Twenty inches of water per hour??? This is Minneapolis, not Bangladesh - I think this is overengineered, but it's presumably considered necessary to protect the $100 million knees of the athletes. I'm not angry, and I love sports, but sometimes I get curmudgeonly about the business aspects of the games.


  1. The stadium is being built right in downtown minneapolis. Not in the suburbs.

  2. You are correct. Target Field will be downtown. Text amended. Thanks.

  3. As a White Sox fan I'll be sooo glad to see the Metrodome go. The Sox seem to magically forget the basics of baseball whenever they face the Twins in that monstrosity. Also, cheers to Twins fans having an actual nice place to watch their team. I imagine spring and possible post season play will be quite CHILLY though!

    That said, the funding for sports stadiums can be so shady. Hopefully Minneapolis didn't stick it to the taxpayers too bad.

  4. You obviously are not familiar with how rain falls and what has to be done to collect and direct it. Just short periods of rain can carry significant amounts of water, sometimes referred to as 10 year, 25, 100, etc. rain events. That was just a different way of putting it. These rain events can happen in the span of 10 minutes.

    Why spend all that money to build something new if it can be swamped in a rain? Out comes the tarp and no more baseball until the grounds chief is happy. This is for the fans, not players knees.

  5. So where is that 20 inches of water per hour being whisked TO?

    I understand that it's not likely that it will be 20 inches of water per hour for hours on end, but that's a LOT of water even if it's at that rate for 15 minutes.

    Is there a local storm sewer system or canal system that can handle it? Or are they protecting the turf by dumping this into the parking lot where all the fans' cars are parked?


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