FedExField is getting a makeover.
The Washington Football Team's home stadium has undergone a renovation this summer, with the grounds crew completely tearing down and rebuilding the entire playing surface at FedExField -- from the sod to the irrigation to the actual grass itself.
Earlier this week, Washington's Senior VP of Media and Content, Julie Donaldson, caught up with Pete Benevento, the team's director of grounds and turf, to discuss the project in a video posted to their Facebook page.
When the project first began, Benevento admitted there were a lot of nerves.
"First was happiness, joy and relief. Once the wheels started going was contractors, the project gets a little overwhelming at certain times," Benevento said. "It's like, 'we're actually going to do this, we've got to do it right one time.' So, right now it's a little calmer, but when we first started off it was a little panic."
The changes to the playing surface aren't minor, either. In the past, Washington's grounds crew would strip off two inches and replace the sod to put together a turf they could play on.
Now, they're taking out 14 inches of subsoil, all the way down to the heat lines. Then, they're going to rebuild the entire surface all the way up, with a new drainage system, new irrigation system and brand new USGA spec sand.
The changing of the sand is a major deal, too. According to Benevento, roughly 2,000 tons --- yes, you read that right -- are coming in, with more than 2,000 tons of the old sand being removed. The new sand is softer sand with bigger particle size; the old sand was more firm and beginning to break down.
After that comes the actual grass, which has been grown in Charlotte, North Carolina, and made especially for FedExField.
"It's going to make a huge difference for our players, our coaching staff and the fans," Benevento said. "Players are going to feel a lot more confident out here running around. Coaches are going to understand what they're coming into every day."
Head coach Ron Rivera has played a major role in getting the process rolling. Not only is the surface at FedExField being changed, but the team's practice fields at the Ashburn facility have been upgraded this offseason, too.
"He was a big advocate for us, here and at the park," Benevento said. "He was a huge voice for the grounds crew and the fields themselves. He's been in our corner the entire step of the way."
The ultimate goal of this project is to provide a better playing surface for the players, something Benevento thinks will be accomplished once the process is concluded.
"I'm excited for our players to play on a field they know is perfect every time they come out here," Benevento said.