ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) – The Edward Jones Dome transformation into a soccer stadium with real grass is underway.
Grounds crews have started working to get the field in place before Saturday's big game.
Edward Jones Dome officials brought in more than 40 truck loads of real sod to cover the entire surface of the floor for the big soccer match Saturday. The grass has been the topic of a lot of recent soccer fan questions. Real Grass? Indoors? How's that going to work?
It's only appropriate that “Mr. Soccer” himself, Bill McDermott, was one of the first people to walk on the first section of real grass.
Just like every other soccer enthusiast, McDermott's curiosity about real grass indoors was growing, “It looks like it's going to work. It's certainly thick enough. I walked on it ever so slightly, but it seems to be stationary enough. And the mere fact that you're putting grass inside, in a dome, for a big soccer game, well, that's an event in and of itself."
Marty Brooks, the America’s Center GM/Sr. VP, explained more than 40 trucks brought in enough sod to cover a regulation FIFA soccer pitch, plus sidelines, "Each roll of sod is 40 inches wide, 200 square feet. We've got a massive playing surface to cover. So it's going to take a day and a half, almost two full days to put the sod in place."
Brooks says installation isn't the only tricky part of this real grass field switchover, "We are a domed stadium, so there is no natural sunlight coming in, and as such we don't have an inground drainage system to support the irrigation of the turf. So we wanted to make sure when we put the plan together to put the turf in, we had enough time to put it in, but the turf wasn't going to be in too long where it would start degrading in quality of the playing surface."
The short stay for the real grass sod also allows it to be reused after the game is over Saturday. Brooks explains what the future is for the grass, "It's going back to the turf farm where it came from. It's going to be relaid and roto-tilled, and the sod and the grass will be reused again. So there is no waste in this field."
Edward Jones Dome officials say that by Thursday afternoon, the entire floor of the dome will be covered in real sod. We'll see how it holds up during the game on Saturday, immediately after which, it will be rolled back up and sent back to the sod farm in Columbia, Illinois.
Even without a drainage system, the crew will give the field a light watering before Saturday to perk up the grass for the game.
Tickets are still available for the match, the game is Saturday, August 10 at 1:00 pm.