The University of Arkansas Razorbacks won their SEC season opener with a score of 20-13 on August 31, 2019, against the Portland State Vikings. While the win was welcome, the story of the day wasn’t so much the play on the field, but the field itself. Razorbacks stadium had just undergone a complete removal of the old artificial turf field and was renovated with Tahoma 31 natural grass.
In an interview with Whole Hog Sports immediately following the inaugural game, Pat Berger, STM, CGCS, Director of Sports Turf Operations at the University of Arkansas, was quoted as saying, “It did great. This was our first big test: three times in less than 24 hours” referring to practices on Friday by both teams, then the game on Saturday, after which no divots were visible.
“In the past you could create large divots. In this case, none were evident,” Berger said.
The Winstead Turf Farms team was on-site for the installation and attended the season opener to see in actiono the grass they’d grown specifically for this stadium.
“We felt the field’s performance was amazing. It performed like we expected and will only improve with time. This field performed as good as any in the country and was only 18-weeks old (from initial planting at the farm through harvest, installation and grow-in) at the time of the first game,” said Doug Estes, Winstead Turf Farms General Manager.
In the media, Razorback players and coaches weighed in on the renovation from artificial turf back to natural grass. Coach Chad Morris said in an interview, “It doesn’t get much better than that. When it’s perfectly manicured, it’s a special sight. More than anything, it’s the true element of football. Especially in a place like Arkansas which is the Natural State.”
Berger said the feedback he received was overwhelmingly positive.
“| think it came out better than they thought it would … the whole university and the state are standing behind us. Everybody’s glad about it. | have not heard anyone say anything negative about the field at any time.”