NFL star A.J. Green was injured during a training camp practice at Welcome Stadium in Dayton, Ohio, on Saturday, and many blamed the condition of the field for contributing to the injury of the Bengals’ wide receiver.
“Terrible,” is how fellow Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd described the playing surface at the stadium in an interview the day after the injury.
The practice session was originally slated to be held at Triangle Park, where the first professional football game was hosted in 1920. The NFL Foundation had plans to construct a $440,000 turf field at the site — but a survey revealed evidence of Native American artifacts or remains, so those plans were scrapped, and a new site was chosen.
Enter Dayton Public Schools, which according to the Dayton Daily News is responsible for maintaining the turf field. Athletic director Shawna Welch defended the condition of the field, saying that it “plays younger than it is,” and describing the district’s maintenance efforts.
“For its age, it is in really good shape, and we take care of it on a yearly basis,” Welch told the Daily News. “Do I, as an athletic director, feel that it’s unsafe to put our students out here? Absolutely not.”
Welch admitted that the 14-year-old field is not on par with the high standards of NFL athletes, but said that the district is able to maintain a safe playing surface because Dayton hosts fewer games than other districts who also use their fields for soccer, lacrosse and other purposes, according to the Daily News.
The field is maintained twice a month by a caretaker, and receives an annual check-up from the firm that originally installed it in 2005. The annual maintenance includes cleaning, sanitization and repairs.
The University of Dayton rents Welcome Stadium for use by its football team, and has done so since 1973. Welch told the Daily News that nobody from the university has complained about the field.
Meanwhile, Bengals head coach Zac Taylor didn’t think the playing surface contributed to Green’s injury, nor did receiver Alex Erickson, who told the Daily News that “It was a little slippery, but it is what it is. Nothing you can do about it. The turf didn’t have anything to do with the injury.”
ESPN reports that Green will miss between six and eight weeks.