NASHVILLE- Since the early years of Nissan Stadium, the Titans have explored a number of solutions to enhance the natural playing surface. Nashville exists in a transitional climate zone, which makes it nearly impossible to grow a consistent patch of grass throughout the NFL season.
Over the past few years, after player/coach concerns, an increase in injuries and ongoing issues with the unreliable surface, the Titans have intensified their research with data to determine the best and safest plan to go from the front. Looking at statistics from the 2018-2021 NFL seasons, Nissan Stadium had higher lower extremity injuries than each of the league’s monofilament synthetic turfs.
The conclusion: Put in place a new state-of-the-art turf that will be installed in time for the 2023 season.
The project – replacing grass with monofilament, Matrix Helix Turf with organic infill – will provide players with a consistent gaming experience throughout the year. This fall, Nissan Stadium will become the first stadium in the NFL to feature synthetic turf system technology incorporating organic infill.
“Ultimately, we made the decision, based on this data, to move to a monofilament surface with an organic infill that mimics the natural feel of grass while achieving the consistency and durability of field turf. “said Titans President and CEO Burke Nihill. .
The new pitch at Nissan Stadium will be similar to the surface and infill currently used inside the team’s indoor training facility at Ascension Saint Thomas Sports Park, as well as other facilities at NFL training. Organic infill retains moisture better than rubber infill to mimic the feel and performance of natural grass, while the turf’s matrix helix design limits infill “splatter” on contact.
Titans head coach Mike Vrabel said player response since installing the surface before last season has been positive.
“There is nothing more important than the health and safety of our players,” Vrabel said. “We had a lot of problems (with the grass at the Nissan stadium) after a certain part of the season. It’s hard to grow grass. It gets slippery. We’re laying new turf, we’re trying to lay new grass and it’s slick you see some guys slipping these are real things i have witnessed during my time here our grass surface is not level with some of the other grass surfaces grass (across the NFL) Beginning of the year, summer, training camp, beginning of the season, I see it’s very consistent, but as the season progresses and the weather changes , there is a noticeable difference in the performance of the terrain.
“We added this product inside the bubble and… the response has been very positive, very supportive of this new technology surface that keeps coming out. I just saw our practices inside and how they stack up. feel and how they react to this product. … We are thrilled to be able to add this product to our stadium.”
A number of factors went into the team’s decision to switch from grass to monofilament turf.
Climate Zone: Because Nashville is located in a transitional climate zone, the ability to provide a consistent and sustainable playing surface has been a challenge since the Titans began playing at Nissan Stadium in 1999. The team has regularly replaced the grass and reseeded, but the results were less than ideal and the playing surface was particularly troublesome at the end of past seasons.
Injuries: Due to the uneven and unreliable surface, the Titans have seen a number of injuries occur at Nissan Stadium. During the 2018–21 seasons, Nissan Stadium consistently recorded the highest lower body injuries of any stadium in the league.
Improved technology: Monofilament, helical matrix turf, combined with organic infill, is the latest in turf technology. It combines the consistency and durability of field turf with the feel and performance of a grass and dirt surface. Organic infill is a type of infill that mimics the feel and performance of natural grass. It can produce field temperatures that are 20° to 40° cooler than fields with traditional SBR infill. It even requires watering, as it is made with natural materials.
Matrix Helix fibers have a corkscrew shape that creates an appearance similar to natural grass while allowing the turf to spring back into place after impact. The shape of the fibers holds the filling in place, reducing movement during play and minimizing filling “splatter”.
Reed Seaton, president and CEO of Hellas Construction Inc., said the consistency of the turf will benefit players.
It doesn’t matter where an athlete puts a cleat on that turf, it’s the same all over the field from game to game, Seaton said.
“A well-constructed synthetic turf pitch with organic infill and padding is a superior system to a mediocre turf pitch,” Seaton said. “Artificial turf technology is now able to mimic a well-kept grass pitch.
NFL Executive Vice President Jeff Miller previously said the latest technology and subsequent data has been an eye-opener when it comes to grass versus turf.
“There has been, over the past few years, a decrease in the difference between injury rates on synthetic surfaces and those on natural grass, to the point now that we’re really talking more about answering the question, ‘Can we reduce injuries on both of us?’ as opposed to one or the other,” Miller said in a previous interview. “It’s a complicated conversation that includes discussions about the type of surface, the characteristics of the surface, the type of cleats the players are wearing, the activities they are involved in, likely atmospheric and weather issues (and more) .”
Preparation work for the Nissan Stadium field facility is already underway and will be completed in time for the 2023 NFL season.
“I think our field team is among the best in the National Football League,” Nihill said. “At the end of the day, there is only a limit to what can be done for a natural grass surface in this part of the country. This grass is cutting edge technology and will be a huge improvement in terms of consistency and performance.”