The Baltimore Ravens are in the process of installing a new field at M&T Bank Stadium. The field, called "Momentum 51" and produced by Shaw Sportexe, is the newest evolution of artificial fields. Shaw Sportexe is the same company that produced the previous field at the Ravens' stadium in 2003.
"Our goal is to have the safest, most consistent playing surface in the NFL, and we believe we have it with 'Momentum 51,'" Ravens president Dick Cass said. "Our old field, which would have been serviceable for a few more years, provided consistency in footing in every type of weather. It was also regularly graded highly by the players."
In the most recent survey (2008-09) by the NFL Players Association, the field at M&T Bank Stadium was voted third best in the NFL among artificial playing surfaces, seventh overall. In the previous NFLPA surveys, the Ravens' home turf was ranked fifth- and sixth-best overall in 2006 and 2004, respectively.
The first event on the new field at M&T Bank Stadium will be the NCAA Lacrosse Championships, scheduled for May 29-31. The Ravens will test the field on Aug. 12 when they host the Carolina Panthers in the preseason opener, which will be televised nationally by ESPN.
"One of the reasons we selected 'Momentum 51' is that it plays well in a variety of competition," explained Roy Sommerhof, the Ravens' vice president of stadium operations. "It holds up with 300-pound offensive linemen digging in and with fast-moving games like lacrosse and soccer. Competing in bad weather does not slow the athletes and does not damage the field."
The new field at M&T Bank Stadium covers approximately 108,000 square feet. Each square foot has 1,152 tufts of fibers that duplicate the feel and texture of natural grass. Each tuft contains at least eight individual fibers, and there will be a total of over one billion synthetic grass blades on the field. The "Momentum 51" field is 2.5 inches deep with a two-inch infill that is a 50-50 mix of sand and rubber. Each square foot contains 6.5 pounds of this infill, totaling 767,000 pounds for the full field.
While the new field will have yard lines, numbers and hash marks inlaid into the surface, all logos, including the Ravens' mark, will be "painted" on the field for specific events.
Don Follett, the Ravens' head groundskeeper/senior director of fields and grounds, is supervising the installation of the new turf. "We think this is the best product. That's why the Ravens wanted it," Follett explained. "We know how to maintain it and keep it fresh for each event at M&T. Our players and coaches like it, as do the athletes who have had the opportunity to compete here from other sports."
Jay Crider, Shaw Sportexe's eastern U.S. sales manager, is excited about providing the Ravens with the "Momentum 51" field. "We look at the Ravens as our premier client. We have a seven-year partnership with them at M&T Bank Stadium and look forward to working with them on this new field for the next decade. We're proud of our product, which is now in its fourth generation," Crider said.
Shaw Sportexe has also provided practice and stadium fields for other NFL teams, including the Saints, Jets, Bills, 49ers and Steelers, as well as for colleges like Alabama, LSU, California, Loyola (Baltimore) and Johns Hopkins.
Shaw Sportexe is a division of Shaw Industries, a Berkshire Hathaway company controlled by Warren Buffett.