Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Might Seahawks scratch the surface?
By Mike Sando
Seattle Seahawks players gave Qwest Field's artificial playing surface high marks in the NFL Players Association's latest survey.
Eighty-eight percent of 50 respondents called the FieldTurf surface excellent (34.0 percent) or good (54.0 percent). Another 11.3 percent rated the surface as fair. None considered it poor.
Of course, none plays soccer on the surface, either.
If they did, they might concur with the Seattle Sounders' characterization of the turf as "an issue" requiring the organization to search out possible alternatives.
The Seattle Times has the story, which I cite here because Seahawks owner Paul Allen also owns the Sounders, and back in 1997, he envisioned Qwest Field as having a natural playing surface. Those plans changed after the Seahawks came to like FieldTurf while playing at Husky Stadium on an interim basis.
Soccer players generally prefer the way a soccer ball responds to natural grass, but maintaining natural surfaces in colder climates becomes challenging in multi-use facilities, raising questions about feasibility. Allen agreed to install temporary natural grass for major soccer events as part of legislation that helped finance the stadium originally.
Might the Seahawks swap out their artificial surface for a natural one? It's far too early to say, but this isn't the last we'll hear of this story.
A few notes on the chart below:
- Fifty players per team on average responded to the survey. The number was between 45 and 66 for all but four teams. It was between 25 and 39 for the others.
- Twenty-four of the 1,619 respondents did not fill out answers. I excluded them when calculating percentages.
- Asterisks denote teams with natural surfaces.
- The St. Louis Rams had been installing new FieldTurf every year because they had no place to store the surface when it wasn't in use for other events at the Edward Jones Dome. The Rams had to break in that surface every year. That changed in 2010 when the team installed an AstroTurf surface allowing for storage.
- Respondents selected excellent, good, fair or poor on their ballots. I combined totals to produce two general categories.
- 80.7 percent of Arizona Cardinals players gave their field an excellent rating, easily the highest figure in the league. Jacksonville had a slightly higher percentage for excellent/good, but the breakdown was split (47.9 percent for excellent and 47.9 percent for good).
- Seattle and Arizona were among 12 teams without any players designating their fields as poor.
Now, on to the chart ...