New Surface at TQL Stadium Brings Change, But Also (Hopefully) a More Dynamic and Healthier Grass for FC Cincinnati

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July 5, 2024 – Major League Soccer (MLS)
FC Cincinnati News Release

The turf at TQL Stadium had plenty of memories grown into its roots after three and half years of service as the playing surface for FC Cincinnati. Playoff victories, a Supporters’ Shield lifted, an MVP season and so much more graced the blades of grass at The Orange and Blue’s home in the West End. But a change was needed, and a change was executed this week while The Orange and Blue were on the road and a new tenant at TQL Stadium prompted a midseason adjustment.

Immediately following the FC Cincinnati match with New England Revolution on Saturday, June 22, a team of contractors and TQL Stadium staff descended onto the field to begin tearing up the Perennial Ryegrass that had been grown, removing the irrigation heads that watered it, and the synthetic carpet that was woven beneath the grass that gave TQL Stadium its signature “Hybrid Grass” label.

By early the next day, all that was left was sand and a white plastic flooring used to cover the field from end to end to allow for construction. Kenny Chesney’s “Sun Goes Down 2024” concert tour was coming in that week to build its towering stage on the west end of the field where the Country Music star and a few of his friends would rock out last Saturday night while FC Cincinnati traveled to Dallas for an away match.

It was the second concert in TQL Stadium history behind British rockers “The Who” and posed a difficult challenge for the turf operations staff. Hypothetically speaking, given a different set-up, a stage could have been built on top of the existing grass and the staff could then try to race time to revive the plant in about a week to get it back to its standard playing condition. That’s what was done when Roger Daultry and Company rocked out TQL Stadium, and the staff replaced all of the area around the south 18-yard boxes to repair the inevitable but expected damage left behind. Yet that still left marks from stage risers that discolored the goalkeepers domain.

But in this specific instance, that simply was not possible. The stadium turf operations team led by Director of Turf Operations Mitch Litz, had to balance some difficult conditions and evaluations on top of the idea that growing grass just simply takes time. For starters, the concert was confirmed internally some time in February, meaning a decision and plan had to be made quickly and the initial feasibility investigation estimated that building the stage and…

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