Bayern Munich has a grass problem.
Not that kind of grass — put down your pipe Tommy Chong.
If you watched the club’s Bundesliga match on Saturday, you did not see the type of world class-quality pitch you would expect at the Allianz Arena. That, however, had nothing to do with the actual groundskeepers tasked to keep the pitch looking fresh and healthy in Germany.
No, in fact the dark underworld of global grass control is rearing its ugly head once more.
Since the NFL hosted a game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Seattle Seahawks, the hallowed turf at the Allianz Arena has been awful. The NFL, of course, has played an integral role in that because the entire pitch needed to be replaced after just one game.
If you watched the Kansas City Chiefs defeat the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday in Super Bowl LVII, you would have seen yet another NFL grass-tastrophe masterclass. Players from both teams were slipping all over the field. Hardly any play went by without some player unnecessarily slipping or falling.
So, what do we know?
Well, at the Allianz Arena, the NFL replaced the entire pitch at a cost €200K, which seems to be the discount rack substitute instead of a true, like-for-like replacement. Check out what Bayern Munich great Thomas Müller had to say about his home field playing surface.
“To be honest, you have to say that our pitch in the Allianz Arena isn’t exactly outstanding,” said Thomas Müller.
How deep does this go, though? To what lengths is the NFL going to ruin good grass surfaces worldwide? What you might not know is that one mysterious figure in turf management is calling the shots. His name: The Sodfather (not joking).
Here is the dirt per Lawnstarter (a respected staple of grass reporting);
To have the best grass for Super Bowl Sunday, the process of growing it begins 18-24 months in advance. (Not-so-super sod typically takes 12-14 months to go from seed to harvest.) Depending on where the championship game is being played, the grass is typically grown in Alabama, Georgia, or California. This year it’s been grown locally –– just outside Phoenix.
Creating the perfect turf is an intricate and detailed process. The grass, usually a Bermuda hybrid, is grown on a plastic base with very little soil and sand, allowing the roots to intertwine and strengthen the base. This makes it easier to transport and transplant.
When we’re talking about 100,000 square feet of sod (give or take 10,000), moving it from farm to field is no easy task. It’s rolled, wrapped, and loaded into 30 or so refrigerated trucks that move it to its new location.
Perfect? Some are scoffing at that notion, but there is more:
The new turf needs time to adjust and acclimate to its new environment, and the groundskeepers need time to make sure it’s impeccable.
George Toma, aka “The Sodfather,” longtime groundskeeper who has worked every Super Bowl since 1967, told TODAY.com: “The most important part of the sod is the soil it’s grown on and the root system of it.”
While our grass “chops” don’t necessarily include a PhD (we are more of a prodigy born with exceptional grass knowledge), we could see that much of the State Farm Stadium playing surface appeared to have more paint than normal — or than was needed for the various logos. In fact, we would speculate that there was a great amount of green paint used to color in some grass that did not quite meet the visual standards needed for a worldwide extravaganza like the Super Bowl.
Regardless, our concern is the Allianz Arena. Consider this...the NFL spent $800K (€750K) on the State Farm Stadium grass, but just €200K on the Allianz Arena replacement surface:
Did you know they roll the grass out into the sun every day? Must take care of this $800,000 investment into sod! pic.twitter.com/alzRhde6v7— Sarah Kwak (@sarahkwak_) February 7, 2023
Is this more nefarious global grass control by The Sodfather?
Bavarian Grass Works will follow this developing story, but drop your thoughts on “The Sodfather” below (and don’t be scared of his bad ass moniker).