Jan 18, 2023 - News

Titans plan synthetic turf for new stadium

A rendering of the interior of the Titans' proposed stadium.

A rendering of the proposed Titans stadium's interior. Photo: Courtesy of the Tennessee Titans

The Titans are committed to a synthetic turf at their proposed new stadium, even though NFL players' push for grass fields is louder than ever.

Why it matters: Players argue grass fields are safer and lead to fewer injuries.

State of play: The NFL released data last year showing a negligible difference between the frequency of players injured on synthetic turf fields compared to grass.

Yes, but: According to an investigative story published last week by The Athletic, recent medical studies contradict the data released by the league. The American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine and the American Journal of Sports Medicine found there is increased risk of injury on synthetic turf versus grass.

Zoom in: More detailed NFL injury data shared by Buffalo Bills offensive lineman Greg Van Roten shows different types of synthetic turf fields are linked to more injuries.

  • The data he shared indicates a type of synthetic turf called a slit-film produces more non-contact injuries than grass fields. A non-contact injury is one In which a player is hurt when running or cutting, but not while colliding with another player.
  • Six NFL stadiums currently have slit-film turf, but that's not what the Titans plan to use at their indoor stadium.

Of note: When cities across the U.S. submitted bids to host World Cup matches in 2026, they had to submit to FIFA's stringent field quality standards. In at least once instance, a host city plans to swap out its turf field for grass during the World Cup.

  • Two NFL teams with indoor stadiums — the Arizona Cardinals and the Las Vegas Raiders — feature natural grass fields instead of turf.
  • Supporters of synthetic turf argue it is more cost effective to maintain than grass. Turf fields can also withstand hosting several events in a row, whereas grass fields can be badly damaged by a rainy night concert or game.

What they're saying: The players' push for grass fields has turned into overt advocacy, with a social media campaign using the hashtag #SaferFields.

  • "No one knows the beating that our bodies take on turf more than us – the players. The sport is violent enough. We shouldn’t be taking more damage from the field, too," Julian Love of the New York Giants said in a November tweet.

The latest: The Titans will not use slit-film turf, team spokesperson Kate Guerra says.

  • "Our plan would be to install the best, most technologically advanced field surface available when the stadium is ready," Guerra says. "There are some incredibly innovative products that combine the consistency and durability of field turf with the feel and performance of a grass and dirt surface."
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