EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — A new playing surface has been installed at MetLife Stadium, where the previous turf had become an object of widespread criticism in recent years.
While not grass, the new surface is believed to be an improved synthetic turf that will decrease the number of injuries that occur at the home of the New York Giants and New York Jets.
The two New York teams will now play on an updated version of FieldTurf — a recent edition called FieldTurf Core system, which is the first multilayer dual-polymer monofilament fiber.
The heavyweight infill design claims to deliver a lower incidence of total injuries compared to various infill weights. The performance and durability of the surface are backed by multiple independent certified sources and was tested to 200,000 cycles on the fiber wear test by Penn State’s Center for Sports Surface Research.
Giants owner John Mara confirmed to reporters this week that the new turf was installed at the stadium and the team practice facility across the parking lot in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Mara also said he hoped that the stadium eventually will convert to either a grass or hybrid field.
The sticking point with grass has long been its ability to hold up under the Northeast climate and heavy usage of MetLife Stadium. Several Giants players publicly expressed their desire to change to natural grass, including former team captain Julian Love, who said “the stats have shown we are on one of the worst fields in the league.”
In the meantime, FieldTurf Core was considered the best option at this time.
“Installation of the new FieldTurf CORE system reinforces the commitment we have to providing the best playing surface for our teams,” president and CEO of MetLife Stadium Ron VanDeVeen said Thursday in a statement. “The research that FieldTurf has put into the heavyweight infill design for this new field system will equip MetLife Stadium with one of the premier surfaces in the league.”
The previous turf at MetLife Stadium has been the subject of multiple complaints in the past, including by the San Francisco 49ers after five players suffered lower-body injuries in the same game against the Jets during the 2020 season. The knee injuries suffered by Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas were season-ending.
Last season, the Baltimore Ravens were unhappy after cornerback Kyle Fuller tore an ACL at MetLife in a Week 1 game against the Jets.
“Everybody in this league should do everything they can to put the best surface out there,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said after that game. “How much is invested in the players who go out there and play, and our league really is a player-driven league, and we want those guys to have the best of the best, especially surfaces to play on. … That turf was matted down, it was packed down, it was a little tight.”
The NFL’s recent rate of noncontact injuries to the knee, ankle and foot is roughly the same on natural and artificial playing surfaces, according to internal data reviewed by ESPN last year.
Those numbers contradict anecdotal observations from this past season from a wide swath of players, agents and coaches who have called for the league to convert all surfaces to grass in response to a series of high-profile injuries on artificial turf.