Why on Earth Was the Super Bowl Turf So Bad?


While the field at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, was aesthetically pleasing as the Kansas City Chiefs secured their Super Bowl victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, the quality of the turf left a lot to be desired.

After two years of preparation at a cost of more than $800,000, the field looked immaculate ahead of kickoff. Both end zones were painted with the colors of the teams, with the NFL logo in the center, flanked by Super Bowl LVII logos.

However, throughout the game on football’s biggest night, players were slipping and sliding across the grass in scenes more reminiscent of a trip to a waterpark that an NFL showdown watched by much of the country.

Kansas City Chiefs running back Isiah Pacheco (10) slips after scoring a touchdown in Super Bowl LVII at State Farm Stadium on February 12, 2023, in Glendale, Arizona. In inset, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes lays on the field with an injury during the second quarter. The quality of the turf on the field has drawn criticism from players and viewers.
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images;/Rob Carr/Getty Images

Players were seen struggling to keep their footing during the action, leading to many changing their cleats midway through in a bid to gain more traction.

Following Rihanna’s halftime performance, groundskeepers were seen attempting to fill in divots on the field ahead of the second half. However, the problems continued right up until the action came to an end.

While Eagles offensive tackle Jordan Mailata said after the game that he’s “not a grass expert,” he went on to share, per USA Today, that conditions were “pretty slippery,” and akin to “playing on a water park.”

The quality of the field was also noted by a large number of viewers, who took to Twitter to complain about the conditions.

Communications director Timothy Burke posted a GIF of some of the grass giving way as a player kicked the ball, adding the caption: “The NFL called this the best turf ever grown.”

According to USA Today, the grass featured at Super Bowl LVII was a Bermuda grass base and rye grass overseed that was grown at a local sod farm in Phoenix beginning in May 2021. It was installed two weeks before the game.

The unique aspect of the way the grass is taken care of might well have contributed to the difficult conditions for players on both teams. On Saturday, entrepreneur and investor Joe Pompliano posted a lengthy Twitter thread in which he explained the mechanisms and work that went into the field.

Sharing video footage of the field track being retracted, Pompliano wrote: “The NFL has spent two years preparing the grass for tonight’s field at the Super Bowl. The grass was grown at a local sod farm in Phoenix.

“It was installed two weeks ago, and the field has been rolled out each morning for daily sunshine. Total cost = $800,000.”

“The grass sits on a 40-inch deep tray that measures 234 feet wide and 403 feet long,” he continued. The field travels 740 feet when it goes inside/outside the stadium & the entire process takes about an hour.

“Las Vegas is the only other NFL stadium with similar tech.”

On Sunday, he added that the “real Super Bowl MVP tonight is George Toma. He is 94 years old and has been a groundskeeper for the Athletics, Royals, and Chiefs.

“He has prepared fields for 37 Pro Bowls, several World Series, and EVERY SINGLE SUPER BOWL IN HISTORY. His nickname? ‘The Sodfather.'”

Posting photos of the field’s grass while it was in the midst of its growth process, Pompliano said: “Nope, that’s not heavenβ€”it’s the Super Bowl field. Shoutout to [Jay Danek] for the pictures. He is the General Manager at West Coast Turf Farm in Scottsdale, Arizona, and spent the last 18 months growing the Super Bowl field.”

Showing his awareness of the field quality complaints that later flooded Twitter during and after the game, Pompliano updated his thread with a popular GIF of a defeated Homer Simpson from The Simpsons walking backward into a hedge.

While the playing conditions left a lot to be desired, Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert stressed that the grass was “definitely not the reason we lost the game or anything.”

“Both teams played on the same field. We saw them slipping around a little bit,” Goedert said, per USA Today.

Added Mailata: “It comes down to who can handle the conditions the best.”

State Farm Stadium before the Super Bowl
The field is readied on February 11, 2023, ahead of Super Bowl LVII between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Kansas City Chiefs at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.
ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images





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