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Grass at Giants Stadium Debated

August 31, 1999

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) _ The decision on whether to install a permanent grass field at Giants Stadium probably will be made soon, and it seems the choice will rest with the New York Jets.

Officials for the New York Giants of the NFL and the New York-New Jersey MetroStars of the MLS said Monday they were impressed with the grass field experiments the past two summers and that they were leaning toward playing on the surface full time.

Jets coach Bill Parcells was not available for comment on the issue on Monday, but he seemed to have some doubts last week about whether a grass field would hold with two NFL teams playing on it for an entire season.

The three teams will meet with officials from the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, which operates the stadium, to discuss the field within a couple of weeks, said Bob Castronovo, the authority’s executive vice president.

The grass field, which consists of 6,000 trays of grass put over the existing artificial field, was put to its biggest test over the past 10 days when four football games were played along with a MetroStars’ game.

The grass in the middle of the field had turned brown and the team logos painted in the end zones were a little worn toward the end of the last weekend.

``It seemed to be in good shape,″ Parcells said after the Jets beat the Giants 16-10 on Saturday. ``It was a little worn in the middle but that’s the great thing about it. They can put grass in whenever they want it.″

John Mara, the Giants executive vice president and general counsel, said the groundskeepers were told not to touch up the field the last 10 days just so everyone could see how the field held up and where the wear patterns would be.

``Everybody knows grass is better,″ Mara said. ``The question is will it work here.″

Mara felt the decision to switch to a permanent grass field would have to be unanimous for it to happen.

The cost of installing the grass field the past two seasons has been well over $1 million and has been paid for mostly by the MetroStars, said Charlie Stillitano, general manager of the soccer team.

If the teams decide to install a grass field permanently, it would cost the Jets, the Giants and the sports authority about $1 million each for the initial installment, said Tim Hassett, a vice president with the sports authority. The yearly maintenance would be about $400,000, he said.

The MetroStars would share in the maintenance cost but they would not be asked to pay for the initial installment since they put up the money for the experiment, Hassett said.

Clark Companies, of Delhi, N.Y., whose tray system is being used, would replace the trays in the center of the field _ the most used portion of the field _ three times during the season.

Castronovo said the current artificial surface would be kept, just in case something goes wrong.

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