In a TCF Bank Stadium first, the playing surface is changing from artificial turf to grass ahead of two soccer matches this weekend, one pitting two top-flight teams from Europe.
The Minnesota Gophers have been playing exclusively on artificial turf since the open-air stadium debuted on campus in 2009.
Now grass was being laid on top on Tuesday for Saturday afternoon’s battle between Manchester City of Britain and Olympiacos of Greece, two participants in the second annual Guinness International Champions Cup tournament, which is being played in 12 cities and 13 stadiums across the United States and Canada.
“Because you end up running 7, 8 miles in a soccer match, running on [artificial] turf is not good for your legs,” tournament spokesman Harrison Raboy said. “They play on grass, and that’s the most natural playing surface for soccer.”
About half of the work installing grass was done as of Tuesday morning and should be “close to complete” by day’s end, Raboy said.
“Pallets and pallets of sod” from a nearby supplier were being emptied in what University of Minnesota athletics spokesman Dan Reisig called a “pretty significant effort.”
Reisig added that this is a “different level of sod, not what you buy for your back yard. It’s a good bit thicker.”
Once the European match is over, Minnesota United and the Ottawa Fury will take the pitch in an NASL contest. One ticket is good for both matches. For ticket information, visit http://bit.ly/1xqbj2f.
The grass, paid for by the promoter, will be removed after the matches are played- sorry, traditionalists — but its future “is still being determined,” Reisig said.