Why is the field at Levi’s Stadium so bad?

To end the 2015 season, the Super Bowl will be played at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. The 2015 preseason hasn’t even begun, and the turf there looks horrible.

Deadspin has a collection of photos and tweets that make clear the poor condition of the turf. In early August.

So they can replace it and replace it and replace it, in whole or in part, but it will never be any better than it is before a game is played on it. And a game currently hasn’t been played on it. And it looks awful.

When will the 49ers do what the Patriots did nine years ago, tearing up the grass field and installing a synthetic system? While a great grass field is better than FieldTurf, FieldTurf is better than a bad grass field.

Why don’t NFL teams insist on the best possible surface for their players? Owners make multi-million-dollar investments in their players, and yet they pinch pennies when the time comes for protecting those investments.

In Houston, where owner Bob McNair recently called out running back Arian Foster for his history of soft-tissue injuries, why isn’t anyone calling out McNair for having his team play on a crappy field that may have contributed to Jadeveon Clowney’s Week One torn meniscus and eventual microfracture surgery?

It’s time for the NFL, the NFLPA, and everyone else who cares about the game to start insisting that the games be played on fields that are conducive not only to player health and safety, but also to allowing them to play the game at the highest possible level, without having to worry about where their cleats are landing — and what will happen once they do.

[Photo credit: Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle on Twitter]

57 responses to “Why is the field at Levi’s Stadium so bad?

  1. disagree. Football is an outdoor sport that should be played on real grass and sometimes in bad weather.

  2. I have wondered why the league still has grass fields. Here in Florida all three stadiums host college games in addition to their NFL clubs. The Bears and Steelers have issues as well. I understand I’m not the one playing on it, but at least the playing surfaces would be similar at all sites.

  3. Yup. When you factor in how many injuries are related to the playing surface, and how much money the owners lose because of player injuries, you’d think the owners would want the best surface they could get.

    But it’s the same old story. They pinch pennies in one spot while throwing away dollars in another.

  4. Why don’t NFL teams insist on the best possible surface for their players? Owners make multi-million-dollar investments in their players, and yet they pinch pennies when the time comes for protecting those investments.


    As a Steeler fan, ever see Heinz Field in mid-November after the WPIAL championship and Pitt is in mid-season? Looks awful, but that’s the choice they made, and some great (though sloppy) games have been played on it. It’s where football originated.

  5. How hard is it to grow grass in a climate like SF?….I’m sure its all the concerts and other crap that plays there in order to pay the interest on the public bonds that were floated in order to pay for the place…put in Field Rurf and be done with it

  6. The problem is the stadium is a venue. Greedy Yorks are having concerts and motocross on the field every week. The stadium sucks just like the field. Worst new stadium ever built.

  7. If Peyton manning loses a few play off games on that field the NFL will make them replace it with field turf. There are several fields that receive complaints routinely (foxboro only received complaints from the colts), but none of those teams have to replace the field. Houston, and Pittsburgh specifically come to mind as having poor field conditions on a yearly basis but they are allowed apparently

  8. If I remember the interviews, most of the great running backs ALL prefer grass over synthetic, so if I manager a team, I would start with grass, like the 49ers did.

    How about in Santa Clara, in the new Stadium, they are having issues because the State is in a multi-year drought and have far too much sun and low humidity and the grass is drying out.

    California will be the first state where water is about to be more valuable then gas and conservation will be mandatory.

    While the owner’s of some teams may actually be penny-pinchers’ it’s not this teams.

  9. Great job mike this has been going on for years you have cities that spray paint dead grass so it looks green. If we are so worried about concussions why don’t they care about knees and ankles?

    Some teams think having a poor field is some type of an advantage and it may be but it is criminal to force players to play on substandard surfaces.

    If you have to spray paint your surface or you can’t provide a uniform surface because you are using trays to grow grass indoors that is criminal because it is putting players lives and livelihoods at risk just as much as helmet to helmet hits.

  10. These geniuses couldn’t get it right when it came to their head coach. What makes you think their choices regarding landscaping would be on point?

  11. If you wanna see a real NFL football stadium … wait until US Bank Stadium opens up next year.

    The first team in NFL history to win the Super Bowl in their own building.


  12. If English Premier teams can put perfect “pitches” together in the crappy weather of England, then we should be able to pull it off here in the U.S.A. Time to hire some soccer turf scientists from Europe.

  13. Natural or artificial. One has a greater risk of knee injury, the other has a greater risk of ankle injury. Pick your poison, there are problems with both.

  14. Hypocrite owners and goodell would rather have high scoring track meets than protect knees or noggins.

    Should be natural grass only manicured to perfection (like 90% of high schools have and do – what’s the problem?)

  15. Mike, (not that I expect you to respond in the comments), but you’re expecting the NFL who made their Rubicon over the flimsiest, paper thin case in Deflategate, to now turn around and do something logical?

    The ONLY sport I can think of that is 100% uniform is the NBA. Even if a hockey rink is “uniform”, the quality of ice and rebounds off the walls of the rink are different, and MLB has different playing surfaces as well.

    Could the NFL do it? Sure.

    But let’s get real. If they can’t get simply discipline correct and consistent, it’s expecting too much for them to actually, you know, standardize a playing surface.

  16. Let’s not forget the atrocious conditions on FedExField. RG3 never will. Too bad it’s covered under employment labor law (and maybe the CBA). Otherwise he’d have an open-and-shut legal case.

    RG3 has never been the same. That field will probably wind up costing RG3 as much as $100 million in lifetime earnings.

  17. My guess on why it’s so bad is because instead of caring for the field properly, they are using less effective “Green” techniques to make local activists happy.

    Kind of like how the state is suffering from droughts but still continues to pump billions of gallons of drinking water into the ocean to help the smelts, while shutting off water to upstate farmers.

  18. Houston is where Wes Welker tore his ACL without even being touched. They have an awful field there.

  19. Sure, blame the field for Clowney’s injuries, and not because he’s an oft-injury prone player who’s made so many excuses that he really ought to be in politics.

  20. Because the player’s union is too busy in court trying to save Brady’s lost legacy to worry about something like player safety on this crappy field- how embarrassing

  21. Seriously. I remember Welker tearing his ACL in houston on that piece of crap field.

    it is 2015 and they spend 120 million a year on players. what is a new field, a few hundred thousand?

  22. Dear Dr York and York Jr … 49er fans are sick of you and the Raiders need a new stadium … so here is the perfect solution … sell the 49ers back to Eddie D with the proviso that he move them back to The City … buy the Raiders and move them to your Field of Torn Jeans … the field will be an improvement on what the Raiders play on now and Raider fans will love Santa Clara … you’re welcome !!!

  23. Chicago, Washington, Houston, San Francisco, Oakland etc. are all a disgrace.
    They’ll fix it when the taxpayers pay for it.

  24. Any stadium that hosts events other than NFL games should be required to use a synthetic field. Stadiums like Heinz Field who host College on Saturday. High School on Friday, Pop Warner on Thursdays, etc. And greedy owners like Snyder who host college games, soccer games, and a million concerts at Fed Ex, should be required to have synthetic surfaces.

  25. Houston isn’t replacing its removable grass for a reason that many may not like or understand. NRG stadium also hosts the Houston Rodeo, which is a surprising cultural landmark in Houston. It runs for several weeks, and sells out every night. Since the Texans only play in Houston 8 or 9 times a year (including preseason), the Texans field is secondary to the needs of the rodeo; at least to the stadium staff.

    I probably have some people in New York and Boston scratching their heads, but there is the truth.

  26. Many european soccer fields have gone to growing grass through artificial turf. About 50-50%. This is the future for the nfl in northern climates. Until agronomist can get grass to grow in nov-jan natural grass will be a mess!

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