Reliant Stadium adds AstroTurf® with State Games in Mind

by David Barron in General

Forty-six years and about 150 yards removed from the building that made it a household name, AstroTurf® arrived Monday at Reliant Stadium.

Photo of AstroTurf installation at Reliant Stadium

Fransisco Lares uses a pair of scissors to cut taller strands of synthetic grass from the newly installed AstroTurf field at Reliant Stadium. (Cody Duty / Houston Chronicle)

A considerably updated version of the carpet on which the Astros played in 1966 and on which Earl Campbell bulldozed defenders in the late 1970s was rolled out at Reliant Stadium, where it will be used for high school playoff games as early as next month and, potentially, high school championship games in 2013.

Mark Miller, general manager of Reliant Park, said the new AstroTurf® field cost about $1.2 million, including installation, maintenance and storage equipment.

For now, it will be kept when it is not in use — irony of ironies — in the empty, endangered Astrodome, where artificial playing fields first went into widespread use in the mid-1960s.

“That is an interesting point,” Miller said. “But to me, the story is what it will do for us. It will be instrumental, we hope, in getting the high school championship games here. That was the driving force.”

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(HOUSTON, Texas) — The Harris County Sports & Convention Corporation (HCSCC) has completed installation of a new, removable AstroTurf® system for Reliant Stadium.

Photo of Reliant Stadium

The new surface will enable Reliant Park to increase the level of event activity, thereby increasing revenue and economic impact through hosting numerous sporting and other events on a world-class playing field without sacrificing its existing natural grass surface.

Reliant Stadium features the NFL’s first, retractable-roof football and rodeo stadium with a portable natural grass playing surface. The field is comprised of eight-foot square trays, which hold sections of grass that are pieced together for games. These trays are removed after Texans games to be properly exposed to sunlight, water, and fertilization.

However, to maintain the quality and performance of the portable natural grass turf system, the hosting of other non-NFL events at Reliant Stadium has been kept to a minimum.

“We’re trying to save the natural grass field for the NFL so it will stay in better condition, and yet we’re trying to generate new revenue,” said Mark Miller, General Manager of SMG – Reliant Park. “Revenue from the synthetic turf system can recover the cost in very short order. Anything that is not the NFL, we will try to play it on the AstroTurf® if the schedule allows. This would include high school and college football playoff games, the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl, and others.

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