Friday, December 22, 2006

Heinz Field News

It seems there are some people in the NFL who don't like the field at Heinz Field, and apparently 53 of them play for the Baltimore Ravens.

The following is taken from an article by Edward Lee in the Baltimore Sun:

"Home-field advantage has taken on a literal meaning for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The 65,050-seat Heinz Field in Pittsburgh is home to not only the Steelers, but also one of the worst playing surfaces in the NFL.

The turf there is called DD GrassMaster, a mixture of Kentucky bluegrass and polypropylene fibers that are sewn vertically into the sod.

The grass, however, is nonexistent between the hash marks and through the entire length of the field and gives the stadium a sandlot look that seems to contradict the modern appeal the venue was supposed to present when it opened for the 2001 season.

The turf at Heinz Field was ranked as the sixth-worst surface in the league, according to an NFL Players Association poll that surveyed more than 1,500 players and was made public in February 2005.

The Ravens have played there once a year, but this week was the first time players revealed that they haven't warmed up to the turf.

'It's not a good field,' linebacker Ray Lewis said. 'That's no secret. Everybody knows it's a terrible field. The grass is always up. You're playing on plain dirt. You have to deal with it. Bottom line, you just got to go play.'

Added coach Brian Billick: 'They feel very good about their surface being in the condition that it's in. They feel like that's an advantage, and they play to that advantage. So, [you face] the great crowd and the field and having to be on the road late in the year and all the things that you struggle with on the road. That's why you like to play at home.'

The Ravens aren't going to win any sympathy from the Steelers. Coach Bill Cowher is a big advocate of the surface at Heinz Field.

'Both teams are playing on it. I like that stuff. That's what the game should be played on," Cowher told The Tribune Review of Pittsburgh earlier this month. "I think a natural surface is much better. Most players would much rather play on grass than any kind of artificial surface.'
"

Another article about Heinz Field comes from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and discusses the less than adequate jumbo screen at the stadium, and its impending replacement:

" Heinz Field is going HD.

The city-Allegheny County Sports & Exhibition Authority yesterday approved the purchase of a new $2.4 million high-definition video display board for Heinz Field, to be ready for the 2007 season.

The Daktronics video board will replace the existing screen, which has been in use since the stadium opened in 2001 and which does not have high definition capabilities.

Steelers officials told the board they have had problems with the existing board, including times when they've lost the use of parts of the screen and in some cases feared it would not operate at all.

The new board also will enable 3,600 ticket holders who now are unable to see anything on the existing screen because of their viewing angle to get a clear picture. That will leave only about 400 fans without any ability to see the giant screen, which sits at the south end of the stadium.

Of the cost for the new board, $1.9 million will come from a SEA-overseen capital replacement reserve account funded by Heinz Field ticket surcharges. The Steelers will pay the rest
."

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