UNC making sure grass is greener at Kenan Stadium this year

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is spending a lot of money on grass this season.

UNC’s football team is practicing on the game field inside Kenan Stadium while the practice facility is renovated, so the school has to re-sod the field before most home games.

“A lot of people ask us, ‘Are we crazy? Are we going to take a field out on Wednesday night and play on it on Saturday?’” UNC’s turf manager Casey Carrick said.

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That is exactly what the school’s turf experts are doing, with a little help from Charlotte-based Carolina Green, a company in the business of growing turf.

“It’s very heavy sod and it’s root-bound,” Chad Price, owner of Carolina Green, said. “It’s grown on plastic. All the roots grow amongst themselves really tight.”

And that allows it to be harvested, shipped and put down at Kenan Stadium – all in one day.

“Seventeen pounds a square foot. You put it down and basically you can put football players on it immediately,” Price said.

This is a big job for a university that comes with a big cost. Carolina considered the option of installing an artificial turf field for the season, which would have cost an estimated $1.4 million.

It costs about $140,000 every time UNC decides to re-sod the entire field. So far, they have only had to do that once this season. They replaced the middle of the field before the Duke game and cleaned up some rough spots before the Notre Dame game.

Overall, the project is significantly under budget.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Carrick said. “We do normal sod jobs throughout the year – baseball, softball, soccer, lacrosse, and we even do some sod out here but nothing to this magnitude.

Nothing where there is so much on the line. We don’t get this right we are going to have a problem in the game on Saturday.”