New Turf, Stadiums And Players

From new artificial turf to new stadiums to new players, the news and notes surrounding the Vikings continue to mount during the off-season. In a way, they all feed off the other and create momentum for the franchise.

The new company hired to install artificial turf at the Metrodome is slated to begin work this week and should have it ready for use by the home opener of the Minnesota Twins, April 5.

SRI, the company that installed AstroPlay 2 artificial turf in the Vikings' practice facility this winter, filed for bankruptcy last month. The Vikings had an eight-year warranty on the turf and will have to find other means to insure it.

SRI was supposed to install that same turf in the Metrodome, but because of the bankruptcy the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission has decided to have Field Turf installed. The two types of artificial turf are similar, with each using a rubber crumb/sand mix. SRI used the Ohio's Best sand that is found in the bunkers at top-notch golf courses, and Field Turf uses sand from Illinois.

According to Dale Wysocki, the Vikings' superintendent, of the 150 tons of turf material used in the team's practice facility, 30 percent is sand.

Field Turf is also supposed to be installed on the main field at Blakesee Stadium in Mankato, where the Vikings hold training camp. That means the Vikings will be practicing on AstroPlay 2 at their practice facility at Winter Park in Eden Prairie, but training camp scrimmages and home games at the Metrodome will be played on Field Turf.

According to Wysocki, workers can really feel the benefits of the new turf — their legs don't take the beating they used to on the older, harder artificial turf in the practice facility. It is hoped the players' bodies won't get as worn down over the course of the year with the softer artificial turf.

One drawback, however, is that because of the rubber/sand mix, striping the lines on the turf takes longer.

FieldTurf is used at Giants Stadium, The Georgia Dome, Seahawks Stadium and Ford Field. Major League Baseball's Tampa Bay Devil Rays and Montreal Expos also have FieldTurf. The rubber used in Field Turf is gound up bits of recycled Nike athletic shoes.

  • The Metrodome's roof, consisting of fiberglass fabric with a teflon coating, was tested in August and September last year and was found to still be performing well, according to the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission.

  • The Vikings were being told that the signing of Antoine Winfield to a big contract is being viewed a positive sign of stability in ownership and could help their efforts at landing a new stadium.

    Minnnesota governor Tim Pawlenty this week is expected to reveal his suggestions for going about planning new stadiums at separate locations for the Vikings and Twins.

  • After the signing of Jim Kleinsasser, a local favorite because of his North Dakota roots and work ethic, head coach Mike Tice pointed out that the Vikings have all 22 of their starters under contract.

  • Kleinsasser, after his signing: "I love Minnesota, I love the Vikings. … We're going to the top of the mountain."

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