Football has always been an all-weather sport. Mud, snow, freezing rain, it doesn’t matter — to win, you overcome the opposing team and the weather. Which makes it a brutal sport for fans, but shivering on aluminum bleachers in a blizzard was always part of the mystique.
Or, for Arizona Cardinals fans, baking in 100+ degree heat.
As ticket prices escalated, pro-football fans demanded more comfort. Domed stadiums tamed the weather and increased attendance. Unfortunately, artificial weather management meant artificial turf. You can’t grow grass in a concrete cave.
The Cardinals played their first game in their new stadium in Glendale, Arizona on Saturday, beating the Pittsburgh Steelers 21-13! The $455 million, 64,000-seat arena is air-conditioned and has a grass playing field. How did they do it?
The field grows in a giant steel tray that rolls out of the stadium and into the sunshine on 542 steel wheels. Once outdoors, the grass thrives in perfect conditions until game day when the entire 9400 ton field is rolled back into the stadium for the big event.
The rolling field means that the stadium can be used for non-sports events without doing any damage to the turf.
As big ideas go, a moving football field ranks right up there with the Pyramids, the Great Wall of China and the Panama Canal. Given enough time, money and ingenuity, it’s remarkable the problems humans have been able to solve.