Material on this page was published when Seahawks Stadium, now called Qwest Field, opened in 2002.
Friday, August 2, 2002 - 12:00 a.m. Pacific
Construction & design
By Bob Sherwin
The playing surface at Seahawks Stadium is nothing like the real thing, but it might be the next best thing. Despite the promise of real grass when the stadium proposal was on the ballot, the stadium put in FieldTurf, an artificial surface. The overriding reason was that the Public Stadium Authority mandated a multi-purpose field for use not only for football and soccer but a variety of other events.
Natural grass would have been impractical for extensive play on the field. The Seahawks would have priority, and if the field began to show wear, other activities would have been reduced or banned.
FieldTurf is not the hard-packed artificial surface that caused so many injuries and complaints over the years. This is a softer version that has gained acceptance from NFL clubs.
Along with Detroit's Ford Field, which also opens this year, Seahawks Stadium will be the first NFL team to use FieldTurf as its stadium surface. Other NFL teams — such as Cleveland, Green Bay, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, Kansas City and the New York Jets — use FieldTurf for their practice fields.
It's the same turf that was installed at Husky Stadium, Washington State's Martin Stadium and fields at Nebraska, Oregon, Michigan and Miami, among others.
FieldTurf is artificial grass with an infill mixture of ground rubber and sand, providing a heavy, solid base. Players like it because it provides good traction yet is a forgiving surface. Their bodies aren't punished as much when they land on it, compared to older variations of artificial turf. "Turf burn" injuries will be greatly reduced.
The turf also is quite porous. Players do not slip as much because it drains well. Stadium engineers believe the field would be playable in a storm that dumped 10 inches of rain in an hour.
FieldTurf has been approved by FIFA, the governing body of soccer, for World Cup matches up to the quarterfinals.
It's not likely that the World Cup semifinals and finals would be played in Seattle, but if they are, First & Goal Inc., which oversaw the stadium project, has pledged to pay for natural grass.
The field can be turned around from football to soccer in fewer than 48 hours. Lines for both sports are marked with water-soluble paint.
Then a special tractor washes away any trace of the paint so unnecessary lines can't be seen. That same tractor also can put down the lines.