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Remember when Arkansas? War Memorial Stadium switched from real grass to fake grass to real grass to fake grass

by Celia Storey | May 16, 2022 at 2:16 a.m.
Vance Dedmon, working for P.C. Sports Inc., places sod June 14, 1994, along the berm of the War Memorial Stadium playing field. The playing field, converted to Astroturf more than 20 years before, was to be seeeded with natural grass. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette fle photo))

Since it opened in 1948, Little Rock's War Memorial Stadium has seen seven turfs come and go. Here's a recap:

1948: The "last word in stadia" has a bermuda-grass field including a sub-soil drainage system to prevent mud-wallow games. The site's shale and rock are covered with 6 inches of crushed rock, and although plans called for 12 inches of topsoil, the contractor applies 13 inches.

Spring 1957: Soaked in liquid poison, plowed 8 inches deep and allowed to rest, the field is re-sodded using 6-inch discs of Tiflawn 57, a small-blade bermuda grass. This is mowed often and chemically treated, like a large, expensive lawn.

November 1957: The Little Rock Chamber of Commerce raises $12,000 to buy a cover so stadium manager Allan Berry can shield the grass from rain and snow, to prevent mud-wallow games.

September 1958: 12 sections of nylon field cover are stored under the stands. Berry explains the nylon must never be used while the sun shines because the grass would "cook" in two hours.

November 1962: The grass isn't green enough so the end zone is dyed grass-green, and red-and-white slashes are applied using a new Bruce-Terminix process, TurfTint.

April 1970: Contractors rip up the wallow-prone bermuda field and install 6,700 square feet of Monsanto AstroTurf.

April 1972: Bubbles in the AstroTurf are cut out and repaired.

July 1984: Worn, bubble-prone AstroTurf is ripped out, and about $500,000 worth of All-Pro artificial turf is installed, with a 10-year guarantee.

February 1994: The War Memorial Stadium Commission digs out the All-Pro and replaces it with grass — bermuda Tifway 419.

2002: For about $700,000, AstroPlay artificial turf replaces that bermuda.

2004: The Texas company that sold AstroPlay goes out of business. The turf's eight-year warranty dies with the company.

2006: With the AstroPlay field balding, the commission contracts with Montreal-based FieldTurf International Inc. for its thicker monofiliment turf, costing about $400,000. The commission buys an extra, third-party warranty in case FieldTurf goes out of business.

2019: The FieldTurf installed in June 2006 is ripped out and replaced with ... new FieldTurf.

[Gallery not showing? Click here to see photos:]


 Gallery: Changing out the turf

Print Headline: Remember when, Arkansas?


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