Location: Dallas, Texas
Sportsfield Designer: Sports Design Group
Completed: Summer 2009
In the spring of 2009, the Dallas Cowboys were met with unfortunate circumstances when a horrible storm came through the area, lifting their indoor practice facility from its foundation and smashing it down on their two grass practice fields. After several weeks of delay due to insurance claims, FIELDS was called in for consultation on how to fix the fields and the surrounding area. The goal was not only to fix the damage, but to also improve the fields as well as enhance the surrounding area so it was more fan friendly. In addition, the construction needed to be completed and the fields ready for use by the opening of training camp at the end of July 2009.
With the help of Sports Design Group from Dallas, Texas, FIELDS put together a plan for a modified sand-based field. Once all the debris was cleared, FIELDS removed all the sod and began construction. The team salvaged some of the existing root zone and mixed it with two types of sand – a coarse sand and a USGA sand – to facilitate drainage and increase the root zone from 3" to 11".
Another significant construction element that FIELDS carried out on the practice fields was to decrease the slope to a 1/2 percent, which closely resembled the surface the Cowboys play on at Cowboys Stadium. This made the fields virtually flat to the naked eye. Because they were so flat, FIELDS added a series of drains to help facilitate water movement. In addition, the team installed a completely new irrigation system, including new technology control clocks that enable access from anywhere using a laptop computer.
The final element in the field construction was sodding with TifSport Bermudagrass, chosen because it's cultivated to be an aggressive grower and is extremely durable. The sod was grown especially for the Cowboys on sand-based soil compatible with the sand used on the new fields. Constant care was provided at the turf farm under the direction of the Cowboys' groundskeeper. It was very important that the sod be mature at the time of installation since the grow-in time was only three weeks. After those three weeks, the roots had penetrated the soil by more than 3".
While on site, the Cowboys also engaged FIELDS' expertise to help design and layout pedestrian-friendly paths to the stadium's suites. The design incorporated scored concrete, brick pavers and special logo areas. The FIELDS team also helped develop areas to be used by the media, as well as a special area for the marketing people to use to accommodate sponsors.
All in all, the project was completed in less than 90 days from start to finish. The most gratifying comments came from the players when they saw how flat the field was and how well it played.
FIELDS had exceeded the organization's expectations; the Cowboys were pleased, and FIELDS was happy to have been a part of the project.