Steelers' final two games at Heinz Field to be played on new grass

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers will play on a new field during their final two regular-season home games.

A new layer of grass will be laid atop the current playing surface at Heinz Field on Sunday, a few hours after completion of Saturday's four district high school football championship games. The new turf will be in place for the West Virginia-Pitt game on Friday afternoon.

This is the second year in a row that the Steelers have paid to have new sod installed before the end of the season.

Last year, a new layer of grass was put down hours before two inches of rain drenched the field during a 3-0 Steelers win over Miami on Nov. 26, a game played in ankle-deep mud. Only the nose of the ball was visible after it was buried in the mush during a Steelers punt that wasn't fielded.

Heinz's hybrid grass surface held up much better this season, with bare patches between the hashmarks becoming visible only when the Steelers played two home games in five days last Sunday and Thursday. Counting the high school games, six games were scheduled at Heinz Field in a seven-day span.

With more than two weeks between home games, the Steelers chose to put down a new field well before their Dec. 7 game against Dallas.

Because Pitt also plays at Heinz Field, the stadium's grass surface gets more wear and tear than most other NFL stadiums. As many as 12 games not involving the Steelers are played there every season.

Steelers chairman Dan Rooney has resisted installing artificial turf because his players strongly favor playing on grass.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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