For anyone who watched the Big Game between Stanford and Cal last Saturday evening, the sloppiness of the whole affair was quite striking. Complicating matters was the condition of the field at Stanford Stadium, which was more like a swamp than a football field. Clumps of grass came up easier with every cut and turn, and players had tremendous difficulty keeping upright above the shifting surface.
Turns out, as this column in the San Francisco Chronicle suggests, Stanford University may consider replacing the grass field at the stadium with an artificial surface. While that would match what California has done with their home stadium in Berkeley, it would remove one more viable option in the Bay Area for soccer matches meant to be played on grass. If the change is made, perhaps last July’s much celebrated San Jose Earthquakes match at Stanford Stadium will become a one-off, and the Quakes will be relegated to considering Candlestick Park and the Oakland Coliseum once again as alternatives to Buck Shaw Stadium for big matches. Most importantly, if the Earthquakes were to somehow manage to earn the right to host the 2012 MLS Cup Final next November, they would be left scrambling to find a venue if the option of playing on turf was unacceptable.
Nothing has been decided yet, but the heavy demands of playing football during the cooler months of the fall make the upkeep of a grass field a challenging prospect. Rolling out the plastic pitch can take away many of the field maintenance headaches associated with natural surfaces. Unfortunately, such a change would also rule out Stanford Stadium as a select location alternative for the San Jose Earthquakes.
(Photo: Michael Macor, The Chronicle and sfgate.com)