Apparently, $1.2 billion can’t even buy you a decently-sodded playing field, anymore.
At least, that was the thought running through a lot of people’s heads when the recently-completed new home for the San Francisco 49ers, Levi’s Stadium, had extensive problems with the grass installed. Apparently, it was so bad, WR Stevie Johnson tripped on the young sod, and head coach Jim Harbaugh pulled his team from their final public practice to protect the players.
It makes sense – after all, how angry would 49ers fans be if one of their star players was injured tripping on a large divot in the field of play?
In any case, the organization couldn’t allow the shoddy fieldwork to stand. As of right now, the field is being replaced with new turf, and it looks like the field should be ready for Sunday’s preseason matchup with San Diego.
Also, as a result of the sod replacement, other events that were to be held at the stadium were moved elsewhere. For example, Jesuit High’s first football game of the season against De La Salle will no longer be played in Santa Clara.
While I doubt that this will be a long-term issue, it is certainly embarrassing for the 49ers, and the city of Santa Clara. Other than the structural integrity of the stadium (obviously), the most important thing about a new football venue is the actual football field. How the designers could have possibly gotten this wrong is beyond me.
Then, you put this in the big-picture perspective – after all, the 49ers have already been embarrassed in two preseason games this season, outscored 57-3. Sure, it probably speaks more to the poor quality of the backups, but a 34-0 loss to the Broncos is still a 34-0 loss – and it’s definitely been a talking point among local and national media.
Then, there’s obviously the absence of LB NaVorro Bowman for half the season, as well as the impending suspension for LB Aldon Smith. That, in and of itself, is already enough of a distraction. You pile that on top of that with this sodding fiasco? It’s enough to bum out the most loyal of 49ers fans.
Whether people want to call this karma for some of the fanbase referring to Candlestick as “a dump”, or for the 49ers moving out of San Francisco Proper, one thing’s for sure – something has to be done, if for nothing else, so the organization can save face.