I know I'm not changing minds regarding the fact Atlanta United will play on a turf field come 2017. Soccer purists will, understandably, never come around. This isn't an attempt to convert you to Turfism.
I'll admit, I, much like many of you, am not a fan of playing the beautiful game on artificial grass. However, knowing that Mercedes-Benz Stadium was going to utilize turf, I wanted to give Arthur Blank and President/CEO of Atlanta Falcons Rich McCay a chance to prove turf in 2016 isn't the absolute worst thing in the world. I kept an open mind about the advances artificial turf companies have made in the last few decades and hoped that whatever kind of surface is ultimately laided down inside The Benz, it won't adversely effect the overall soccer product on the field.
Again, I know for most of you I'm not going to change your mind. So save your "still prefer real grass" and "always catering to NFL" comments.
Believe it or not, some European clubs do actually play on turf! (Gasp!) On top of that, according to the FieldTurf website, Barcelona, Manchester United, Real Madrid, AC Milan, Juventus and Inter Milan all practice on turf. So turf isn't some magical substance exclusive to soccer in MLS. While I can't attest for the quality of their practice fields, it is 2016, and that means technology should have seriously improved from those black pellet fields most of us played on in high school.
While not the same kind of turf, the Dutch club, Vitesse plays on GreenFields MX turf, which is the foundation to the new GreenFields MX 3-Star. The improvements are basically less infill and an even more natural-like playing surface.
A few things I noticed:
- No black pellets so commonly associated with turf fields
- The slight impressions into the turf left by the player's footsteps, implying grass-like surface
- Looked really, really nice
- Doesn't seem to have the random bouncing effect most artificial surfaces seem to have