The Denver Broncos will be playing on real grass, instead of a synthetic-grass blend, next season at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Team officials said the plan is to have the new grass field in place in early April. The surface has been a synthetic-grass blend put in place when the stadium opened in 2001. The new surface will be 100 percent Kentucky bluegrass sod. Officials said the sod will be grown by Graff’s Turf Farms in Fort Morgan. “After completing extensive upgrades to the stadium in recent years, our focus now is providing the safest and best possible playing surface at Sports Authority Field at Mile High,” said Zach Myhra, Director of Facilities for Stadium Management Company.
As the Broncos’ home turf at Sports Authority Field at Mile High gets renovated, the field is starting to look better suited for dirt bikes than football.
But fear not — the field will be back and in better shape by May, with plenty of time for not only Broncos games, but Outlaws lacrosse, too.
The project has a massive scope, replacing not only the grass but much of the field infrastructure during down time in the offseason. Beneath the blades of grass that we all see, there are layers of sand, grass mix, gravel and heating piping that goes into what makes the field so sturdy and capable of lasting through the years and through seasons of football and lacrosse, and some other events. After removal of those layers, installation will begin to replace those old layers and to install new sod, a Kentucky bluegrass.
“Our plan is basically a full renovation from at least 12 inches down, starting from the field warming systems to the pipes that allow us to grow grass and have a safe playing surface through some of the winter months here in Colorado, as well as all the sand and soil mixture that helps support growth,” said Myhra.
The process allows the Broncos to upgrade a number of parts of the facilities, including heating pipes, heating controls, field heating sensors, improved drainage, replacing irrigation heads and valves, and new in 2014: sideline-heated benches.
The process, which began early in February, is schedule to be completed by the beginning of May following the field preparation of the new sod, after having a mix of natural grass and synthetic to help the field support.
“We’ve always had Kentucky bluegrass or some mix of that nature and we just decided that it was time to go back to sod,” Myhra said. “We’ve had great success here with this stadium and the synthetic fibers that we’ve had in the field since the stadium opened in 2001 have been very successful for us.”
The change to sod also allows the facility to work with the infrastructure beneath the sod a bit easier, too.
“With the synthetic fibers that we had in the field, we hadn’t necessarily been able to do a lot of the work below the surface,” Myhra said. “So we’re really excited to make any repairs or improvements that we can as part of this renovation to make the best playing surface for all of those that are on the field and for the organization.”
Field area: approximately 90,000 square feet
Materials used: approximately 5,000 tons of sand, 1,500 tons of gravel
New sod: 100 percent Kentucky bluegrass, grown for about a year and will be 14 months old when installed
Pipes used for the heating system: approximately 20 miles of tubing
Number of truckloads: over 500 truckloads of sand, gravel and sod from removal and installation