49ers stadium sod is still a disaster, people are now blaming Taylor Swift

With another NFL season lurking menacingly on the horizon, it’s time to revisit the San Francisco 49ers‘ new stadium with its perpetually awful field. Now that it’s had a full year to grow and put down roots, surely things are much improved now, no?


Things eventually got so bad that the 49ers canceled Sunday’s open practice at the stadium, moving it to an adjacent practice field that has an actual, you know, field.

What is going on here isn’t exactly clear. The Bay Area Sports Guy blog notes that the 49ers are jamming in additional events to make money — both those open practices, which are free but a perk for the PSL holders that helped pay for stadium construction, and concerts, which are decidedly not free — but still, other stadiums manage to hold more than eight or ten events a year without having the grass fall out in clumps. Mike Florio of NBC Sports asks the question and then (predictably, because it’s Mike Florio) doesn’t attempt to answer it, and none of the Bay Area news outlets appear to have done a thorough investigation. So it’s possible that the 49ers have discovered a downside of financing billion-dollar-plus stadiums without major public subsidies — you have to squeeze every last dollar from other sources, which is tough on the sod — or it’s possible they just have a lousy grounds crew. Or, you know, that maybe the climate change that is soon going to kill us all is starting by ruining football.

14 comments on “49ers stadium sod is still a disaster, people are now blaming Taylor Swift

  1. Read somewhere that the sod they used is actually really good, it jut takes over a year to really fully seat. So York went against the advice of people that actually do this stuff professionally and used it anyway, even though it wouldn’t be any good by the time the season started.

    Having torn it up and re-sodded, it still hasn’t had the time it needs. Lather, rinse, repeat.

    Anyone know where the field itself sits in relation to sea level?

  2. Well, at least our (Seattle) rivalry with the 9’ers will have a consistent field condition.
    Tour & Events : Taylor Swift
    Sat, Aug 8 THE 1989 WORLD TOUR CenturyLink Field

    j/k – despite initial plans for grass, SEA has astroturf.

  3. I think I remember reading somewhere that the type of sod they used is supposed to be more drought resistant and require less water but that it grows very differently from typical sod used on NFL fields and that’s what causes the problem, but don’t quote me on that. The condition of the field is the one thing that critics of the stadium and I agree on. Pretty much all of the rest of the complaints about the facility are, in my opinion, whining just for the sake of whining.

  4. Climate change. LOL What happened to global warming?

    Al Gore is flying somewhere right now in his private jet to get a lid on it all.

  5. “Global warming” doesn’t describe all the effects, such as more rain in the eastern U.S., colder temperatures some places even as the overall average goes up, etc. It’s a piece of the puzzle, but the total effects are much more complicated, and in most cases worse.

  6. Same issue is evident at “new” Wembley stadium. The cost overruns were so dramatic that the operating company now needs to squeeze in far more events than they originally predicted just to cover the construction related payments (not sure if it was done with bonds or??).

    So… England’s national stadium has England’s worst turf… unlike it’s 80yr old predecessor.

    Did the 9ers bring in rolls of this stuff that had been grown at another site or did they just seed the new grass in place? Typically, even with modern hybrid style playing surfaces, the field can be grown elsewhere an brought in. Of course, if you don’t allow time for the roots to knit together, you do end up with large chunks of sod flying up.

    Most NFL clubs also have (often publicly funded) practice facilities precisely so they don’t destroy their playing surfaces by practicing on them… but apparently that never occurred to the dimwit Yorks.

  7. John,

    The 49ers lease 11 acres from the city in perpetuity for about $26K a year (not a typo) from the city for their team HQ and practice fields.

  8. I guess anything’s possible, but I find it hard to believe that an NFL team would choose grass that takes a year too root. Getting sod to “take” isn’t that difficult. Sounds like they have a problem with what’s under the grass.

  9. SCJ: I thought they had practice facilities somewhere… which makes it doubly stupid to subject their game field to the extra work…


  10. They’ve been holding open practices at the main stadium as a perk for PSL holders. And, I’m sure, a way to make money by selling them concessions.

  11. Here are a few links about the original turf. It’s called Bermuda Bandera. I put it in my backyard last year and have been less than pleased. The rye component never came in during the winter and the wife was not pleased. The company did send me a large bag of seed to reseed in October. Recently, after a saturday afternoon of kids playing soccer on it, it looked awful. I wouldn’t say chunks were coming up, but it did look roughed up and hasn’t recovered very quickly. Wouldn’t recommend it. Although I do agree that it doesn’t need much water. My back yard grass is about the size of a volleyball court and the grass is surviving under California’s water restrictions.