Ravens give turf at PSINet test run

With `modular' field, grass greener around edges

October 23, 1999|By Jon Morgan | Jon Morgan,SUN STAFF

Thursday's Ravens game was a network television debut for PSINet's latest field. Like the team, it didn't look its best.

The center part of the field was noticeably lighter in color than the outer two-thirds. ESPN's commentators even pointed out the differences in the fourth quarter, using on-screen pens to show the seams. Quarterback Tony Banks also appeared to have a hard time keeping his footing.

The developer of the team's field said color differences will fade in coming weeks. He said slipping by players was probably due to nighttime dew or the use of the wrong cleats.

"I can't imagine that there would be a footing problem," said Bob Hummer, president of Hummer Turfgrass Systems Inc.

His company developed the "modular" field that is assembled from 1,000-pound, 7-foot squares of sod. The system allows a groundskeeper to replace damaged parts of the field or rotate worn spots with areas of the field that receive less use.

The Ravens have struggled to keep their field green under the normal abuse of football games, as well as a football-themed movie being filmed at the stadium. Warner Bros., the moviemaker, has been filming with crews of 300 workers zipping around the grass on carts and pushing heavy camera equipment. Another week of filming is scheduled.

Hummer said he replaced the center third of the field with 344 fresh squares Tuesday to repair damage from the movie. The replacement squares came from his sod farm in Pennsylvania and were a lighter shade of green because of differences in fertilizer and maintenance used on his farm and by the Ravens' groundskeepers.

About 1,200 squares were installed in August. The moviemaker is responsible for the cost of the grass repair.

Ravens spokesman Kevin Byrne said the team had no complaints about the field's performance.

"I think it performed better than our offense did," he said.

Pub Date: 10/23/99

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