Cue the new sod: NFL plays Super Bowl on its own turf

Hours after the San Francisco 49ers beat the St. Louis Rams on Jan. 3 in the final game of the regular season here, a whole other team entered Levi’s Stadium for an urgent, curious ritual: to replace the entire field in time for the Super Bowl a month away.

While the players were still cleaning out their lockers, a team of three dozen groundskeepers, led by Ed Mangan, the N.F.L.’s field director, began ripping out tons of sod to make way for 29 truckloads of specially designed grass that would arrive a week later from a farm owned by West Coast Turf in Livingston, Calif., 117 miles to the south.

The high-speed and costly swap is standard procedure for the N.F.L., which for about the past quarter-century has replaced the field before every Super Bowl played on natural grass, to ensure pristine conditions.

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