CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46) – After 26 years, Bank of America Stadium will be switching to a FieldTurf in order to provide a consistent playing surface as the Charlotte Football Club now shares the stadium with the Carolina Panthers.
Charlotte FC will begin playing MLS games in the spring of 2022 and with up to 30 professional games a year played at the stadium, Tepper Sports & Entertainment announced the change from grass to turf.
“[David Tepper’s] vision is for the building to be a community asset,” vice president and COO Mark Hart said. “With two major professional sports franchises using Bank of America Stadium, and more events upcoming, having a natural grass surface is going to be a heavy lift. We believe a synthetic surface provides the best solution.”
As of the 2020 season, 17 of 31 NFL stadiums used artificial turf. Five MLS teams already play on artificial surfaces (Atlanta, New England, Portland, Seattle and Vancouver).
FieldTurf products specifically are already used in five other NFL stadiums (Atlanta, Detroit, New England, Seattle, and New York Giants/Jets) and 11 other NFL practice facilities (those six teams plus Green Bay, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, and Washington).
The stadium’s grass surface was consistently ranked among the top in the NFL in surveys done by the NFL Players Association. Historically, the players’ union has been opposed to artificial surfaces, the Panthers said in a release.
The release said to keep grass, they’d have to re-sod continuously. For instance, the bench areas of an NFL field are hard to keep grass growing on, and those areas are in the field of play for MLS. They said when the schedules overlap, it’s difficult to maintain.
The release adds: “While some might not think it’s an ideal decision, it’s a practical one, giving them the ability to flip the facility for a high school game on Friday, a college game on Saturday, an NFL game on Sunday and a midweek soccer match. There have been calls for years for the stadium to be more accessible beyond NFL contests and a few college football games each year. There’s also an aesthetic element, as an artificial surface eliminates the problems of painted lines on the field for different sports, meaning Charlotte FC won’t have to play on top of faded Panthers logos or hashmarks in the middle of the field, and vice versa.”
The organization reached out to players from both the Panthers and Charlotte FC before the decision was announced to update them on the change.
Carolina already practices on FieldTurf inside the Atrium Health Dome behind the stadium and they will continue practicing on grass outside. The future Rock Hill practice facility will feature three full-size grassfields outdoors, one outdoor artificial turf surface and one full-size indoor artificial field.
In addition to a full slate of NFL and MLS games next year, there are more college football games (Appalachian State-ECU on Sept. 2 and Clemson-Georgia on Sept. 4 as well as the ACC Championship and Duke’s Mayo Bowl) on the docket, along with the potential for high school football games, Charlotte FC Academy matches and plans for many more events.
By making the decision now, work will likely begin within days, and is expected to be completed by the summer.
The life span of the FieldTurf surface could be up to 10 years, and Hart said the plan is to replace the top layer every two or three years.