This is not going to be your father’s Commonwealth Stadium when all is done with the addition of new dark green seats expected a year or two after the Grey Cup.
And this definitely isn’t your father’s artificial turf.
Monday, media members were introduced to the first look at the new turf, which was installed in Gillette Stadium for the New England Patriots prior to the FieldTurf people showing up here. A total of 21 of the 32 NFL teams now play or practise on FieldTurf.
Fans will be encouraged to sit in the stands and check out the Eskimos on their new field (and eyeball the construction site of the $106 million complex featuring a field house, new dressing room, two floors of Eskimo offices, etc.) during training camp.
It’s 10,215 square metres (110,000 square feet) of new turf replacing the last grass field in the CFL which cost $2.6 million ($1.3 million paid by the Eskimos and $1.3M by the city).
Unlike artificial turf of the past, there is no concrete under the carpet.
In all there will be five-and-a-half pounds of sand and rubber pellets between the “grass” blades per square foot.
In total 1,900 truckloads of grass and dirt were removed from the stadium and replaced by fly ash, a byproduct from power plants with outstanding drainage qualities.
An inch-and-a-half shock pad option will be under the usual surface. It makes the cushion effect somewhat better for the players but that’s not the primary reason for the extra expense.
“We were convinced by the Seattle Seahawks that this was the way to go because of the concerts,” said Eskimos CEO Rick LeLacheur.
“It’s more for the concerts. The compaction from the heavy stages is greatly reduced.
“The Seahawks swear by it.”
LeLacheur said that the Eskimos were also convinced by venues which occasionally host major soccer events (which this field has been approved for by FIFA — other than for the men’s World Cup itself), to go for turf without line markings so the lines can be applied for games and removed by hosed water.
“That will really help the look of the field in televising the various events,” said LeLacheur.
It’s not just the bright new green carpet that will help the look of the field on TV, especially late in the season when the grass turns brown.
The stadium improvements include new lights with much higher candle power which are HD TV compatible.
The lights have already been installed but won’t be aimed into position until the turf has been completely installed.