The Vikings have yet to get a new stadium, but their current venue will have a different playing surface when they open the home portion of their preseason schedule on Aug. 28 against Seattle.
After six seasons of playing on FieldTurf in the Metrodome (or Mall of America Field), the Vikings now will play their home games on Sportexe turf. Crews started ripping up the FieldTurf this week and the project will be complete by the time the Vikings come home after playing their first two exhibition games on the road.
Sportexe turf is the same surface on which the Baltimore Ravens play their home games at M&T Bank Stadium. Officially, the turf is called Shaw Sportexe Momentum 51 and is manufactured by Shaw Industries, a division of Berkshire Hathaway and the largest carpet and fabric manufacturer in the world. The company is located in Georgia.
The Ravens, Jets and 49ers also have this turf installed on their practice fields. It is a 51 oz. carpet infilled with 50 percent sand and 50 percent SBR rubber.
Shaw was selected by the Vikings and the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission from among five bids that were put in. FieldTurf actually filed suit against the MSFC because it was the low bidder but a judge denied the motion for a temporary restraining order.
The MSFC is paying $495,000 for this turf project. "The Vikings pushed hard for the turf," said Bill Lester, executive director of the MSFC.
Because the Twins no longer use the Metrodome, the Sportexe turf will be installed with no cut-outs for the sliding pits that had been used for baseball. This means players won't have to worry about avoiding possible seams around where first, second or third base had been located. The turf also will take up some of (not all) of what had been the baseball warning track.
Update: A few readers asked if baseball still would be played in the Metrodome. It will. The Gophers will play their next season and the venue will continue to host other amateur games. The difference is that the bases will be set up on the turf and there will be no sliding pits so players will slide on turf. The home plate area will remain dirt because that's not part of the field of play for football. By the way, thanks to those who helped me with the spelling on larget, er, largest.