Grass cut out of Commonwealth

CLARA HO, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:30 AM ET

Commonwealth Stadium will no longer be the "last with grass" after city council voted unanimously Wednesday to have the natural field replaced with artificial turf.

"There is a long history of grass at Commonwealth, but it's been there now 33 years and it's pretty compacted there," said Eskimos CEO Rick LeLacheur. "The grass gets harder than rock sometimes."

The existing field will be ripped up as early as April, with civil work starting soon after to have the artificial turf installed in time for the regular CFL season in June and for hosting the Grey Cup in November.

The $2.6 million to replace the field will be shared by the city and the football club.

The city will pay $2.1 million from its Commonwealth Stadium Enterprise Reserve. The Esks are paying $500,000 up front, then putting $800,000 back into the reserve over five years.

In the end, both parties end up paying $1.3 million each to split the project's cost evenly.

Council heard that artificial turf uses less water, no fertilizer and has lower maintenance fees translating to approximate savings of about $80,000 per year. It also has an estimated 10-year life cycle, though other artificial turfs have been known to last longer.

A quicker turn-around time to remove and reinstall the artificial turf will also allow the stadium to host a wider variety of events, LeLacheur said. "When you have the grass, you have to give it time to recover."

With concerts by U2 and Bon Jovis scheduled for this summer, LeLacheur was concerned the natural grass field would have to be turned over and resodded so much that it would be in poor condition for the Grey Cup.

The artificial turf would also be appropriate for most soccer events, LeLacheur said, adding a small expense could be incurred to accommodate sports events that required natural grass.


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