A set of tractors lined Sporting Park on Monday,with the vehicles devised to remove a grass field, one strip at a time. Within hours, a venue that has hosted four competitive soccer matches over the past two weeks was left with only dirt patches.
A replacement is on the way.
Sporting Park will lay down a new field Wednesday and Thursday — just in time for Sporting Kansas City to utilize it for its home match Saturday night against Houston. The game starts at 7:30 p.m.
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Ironically, it was during the same matchup in a U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal last week — Sporting KC and Houston — when the field's playing conditions became a storyline. The players struggled to gain solid footing, they said, and the old field housed enough divots in the July 21 match that even club CEO Robb Heineman took part in filling them in during halftime.
"The guys were planting their foot, and the turf was going out," Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes said. "That was a real issue. It was affecting the game for both teams."
Vermes said the combination of rain and a cool start to the summer led to the destruction of the old surface.
The new field — which is being transported from Maryland via 31 reefer trucks — will be comprised of a thicker cut of Bermuda grass, designed to lessen the impact of weather elements and ongoing use.
On Tuesday, workers will laser grade the field in an attempt to level it before the new surface is place down inside Sporting Park in the following days.
"The great thing is that it won't do any of the stuff it's doing now," Vermes said. "It could be a little bit bumpy, but I'd rather go for that any day of the week than the field coming up and the guys not having the stability to make their cuts."