An Impressive Kickoff for the Buffalo Bills
Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, N.Y.
By Jim Dobmeier
When the Buffalo Bills committed to starting the 2011 season with a stronger defensive front, they weren't kidding. Sure they've beefed up with top draft choice Marcell Dareus, weighing in at 340 pounds, playing alongside a combined 600-plus pounds from veteran linemen Dwan Edwards and Kyle Williams. But, the 2011 season kicked off with another starting player, considered by most to be equally as impressive.
You won't find this player on the Buffalo Bills' 53-man roster, but fans will see this top performer lead the charge every time the Bills take to the field at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Western New York. Weighing in at 564,000 pounds, this player catches your eye and keeps your attention—well before the game begins. In fact, it's safe to say that one of Buffalo's newest home game strategies will be prominently positioned under toe, across 86,000 square feet of the "Ralph."
The A-Turf Titan 50 has been called the most technically advanced turf field in the industry, providing the perfect balance of traction, foot release and durability. Designed with premium Monofilament and XP fibers, this dual fiber construction offers the best of both worlds—aesthetics and performance. The combination was developed to ensure the Bills have the highest performance without sacrificing durability in future seasons. One of the most notable features of the field is the footing, so the players will see less slippage when they cut, run and jump.
The installation process, which spanned three weeks, began in early July with the use of specialized equipment to remove the existing 8-year-old system. The new field was installed over an existing rubber, stone and urethane e-layer, creating a field that delivers ideal shock absorption. In combination with the e-layer, the Bills' new field is equivalent to that of the finest natural grass in the world, and is expected to deliver consistent performance over the life of the field. Consistent performance is possible because we replicated the system based on the best properties of natural grass in excellent condition. The turf fibers are supported by an infill system that mimics soil and contributes to the fibers standing upright. The Bills' system consists of roughly six pounds of rubber and sand per square foot—more than 500,000 pounds of infill!
In addition to the playability and durability, there are a number of visual enhancements as well. One of the most obvious differences on the field are the blue end zones, marked with white lettering outlined in red, offering a striking contrast to the green field. Fans may also notice a 30 percent larger royal blue and red logo at midfield as well as the red, white and blue 20-yard lines. Each design element was carefully considered, not only for the fans in the stadium, but also for those watching at home.
For every visible aspect, hundreds of intricate details went on "behind the scenes" and played a key role in successfully building this field. Field building is specialized construction, complete with all of the demands and challenges of any other major construction project. Having a company skilled at handling the business aspects of the project—scheduling, ordering, delivery, communication and handling the various trades—is crucial to whether a field project goes well.
As interest in the new turf system grows, A-Turf is now unveiling a second Titan system called Titan SS. Unlike the original Titan, the new system is designed with a shorter pile height (1.5 inches vs. 2.25 inches) and sand-only infill. The choice of sand includes: round, sub-angular and sand with various coatings that are available on the market. Every sand type used is user-and fiber-friendly due to its non-abrasive characteristics.
To date, A-Turf has completed more than 250 fields across the country, including 20-plus in the Western New York area. While all of our projects are significant, this project ranks as one of the top field projects of my career. As a lifelong Buffalo Bills fan and a season ticket holder, building the new field at Ralph Wilson Stadium is nothing short of a dream come true.