The Red Bull Arena grounds crew has worked tirelessly over the last few weeks to winterize the pitch in preparation for the 2012 season. What remains as we head into the holiday break looks more like the terrain Robbie Maddison or Travis Pastrana would be accustomed to riding on rather than that which Thierry Henry would play on. But that's all par for the course when it comes to maintaining a professional soccer field.
As the grounds crew prepares to cover the field for the cold months ahead, the real work is only just beginning. Dan Shemesh, Director of Grounds at Red Bull Arena, says the field will go through a thorough transformation between now and the March 25 home opener.
“We play the whole season with this field that we put down in March and we knew towards the end of the year that the field was starting to go south on us,” said Shemesh. “What we’re doing now is stripping down the field and prepping it for when we put down the sod in March when the weather warms up.”
With the old sod removed and the top layer completely stripped, the crew will proceed to take the next steps involved in leveling the surface. Although an experienced groundsman like Shemesh can notice any divots or mishaps along the way, he and the crew will rely on laser precision to flatten the surface and return the field to its 2010 inaugural form.
“Once the area is cleaned we’ll till it up and laser the field again. As you tear it up and put it back down it slightly affects the grade of the field, so every little minor low spot shows up,” he said. “So what we do is we get the field laser graded so it’s reset to what the field was when the Arena first opened up.”
While Shemesh and his crew definitely have their work cut out for them, there’s no doubt the field will be looking good as new by the 2012 home opener.