• Sun. Jul 21st, 2024

2026 FIFA World Cup no game changer yet

While Giants president and CEO John Mara has confirmed that his MetLife Stadium will have a natural turf surface fitted to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup, he does not want to commit yet to maintain the surface in the years that will follow.

MetLife Stadium is co-owned by the New York Giants and the Jets American Football teams. It will host five games in the group stages, one in the round of 32, one in the round of 16 and the final for the tournament, thereby beating Dallas’ AT&T Stadium and L.A.’s SoFi Stadium to host world football’s prestigious finale.

Earlier this week, Mara told reporters that a grass field will be put in for the 2026 World Cup “but it’s a different type of grass than would be used for American football, which is played at MetLife by the New York Giants and Jets.” However, he didn’t want to commit to keep the surface over synthetic turf once the FIFA tournament is gone.

As the football spectacle will be played on natural turf, something that will be financed by FIFA, many believe that the venue owners will take-over the surface once the tournament is gone, especially given the negative sentiments currently expressed by many American Football players towards synthetic turf.

“I want to get to the point where the experts can tell us that late in the season we can have a safe, playable grass field,” Mara said. “When we get to that point, then maybe we make the switch. We’re not there yet.

The eye of the storm

Mara’s attitude is remarkable as it was on the synthetic turf surface of the MetLife Stadium, where Jet’s quarterback Aaron Rodgers tore his Achilles in last season’s opener. His, and several other injuries on synthetic turf, have fuelled the call for switching American Football surfaces to natural turf.

At present, the stadium uses a FieldTurf Core surface, which was installed last offseason.

Mara believes that they’re not yet at a point where they could have a safe playing field late in season on a grass field.

“With the amount of events in our building, particularly during the football season, having two teams there and how many times last year we had back-to-back games where it rained during the first game, I can’t imagine what a grass field would look like on that second day.”

Copa America

The upcoming Copa America could provide Mara with a test-run as the venue received USD 400,000 from local authorities to prepare itself for hosting two group stage matches and a semi-final game for the Copa America tournament coming summer.

The entire sum will be spent on a natural turf surface.

Guy Oldenkotte

Guy Oldenkotte is senior editor of sportsfields.info and has been covering the outdoor sportssurfaces market and industry since 2003

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