As we write this post, Austin FC is rolling out turf at McKalla stadium for the first time.
It’s a long time coming just to get to this point. For 6 months now, this grass has been growing in Scottsdale, Arizona by sod farm West Coast Turf.
Now conditions are perfect to truck it 1,000+ miles to Austin.
In a recent Capital City Soccer Show podcast with Sr. Director of Grounds, Weston Appelfeller, we learned this turf is called ‘seashore paspalum’.
While it hasn’t been used on an MLS pitch before, maybe you’ve seen it on MLB fields—Astros’ Minute Maid Park is the nearest example. Plus, this grass will be on display at a little event called the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
According to Weston, this rare grass is ideal for McKalla, due mostly to its ability to withstand the shade. Shade in Texas??? That’s right, because of the large overhanging canopies, this special shade-tolerant, heat-resistant grass is necessary. Grow lights, 34-inch walk mowers, and ground level air turbines, will help keep it tip top in months when there’s less natural sunlight.
As backup, the club has extra sod on hand, plus that Arizona company will keep growing replacement grass. A sod farm in Georgia is also an option if things go awry.
Grass installation as easy as 1-2-3 (nights)
Installation began at night on Oct. 21 as soon as the first refrigerated 18-wheeler arrived from Arizona. By morning after the first night, more than a third of the field was installed.
Artificial turf will be laid down along the far sideline edges in order to withstand heavier foot traffic and even less sun.
After the second night, the progress is significant with more than two-thirds of the turf rolled on. The club expects one more night of installation before it’s complete.
In the early morning after the third night, the stadium construction camera revealed that the pitch is 100% Verde.
The best is yet to come for Austin FC fans.
It will be the day when the ball is first kicked from the center spot of this beautiful field to start the inaugural Austin FC home match.