Explainer: What Was the Problem with the Turf at Super Bowl 2023?

Each year, the NFL puts in fresh turf for the Super Bowl to make sure the game is as safe and visually appealing as can be. This year was no exception at State Farm Stadium, home of the Arizona Cardinals.

An important thing to note is that when the Super Bowl location is selected, the Super Bowl determines the sod variety and installer and takes over replacing the field and the groundskeeping. The regular stadium staff is replaced by NFL personnel.

This is important because Evergreen Turf is the provider of the sod for the Cardinals for every other event or game that happens at the stadium. We are not the provider during the Super Bowl. When doing our regular routine maintenance of the stadium sod, the sod is typically replaced 2-3 times a year.

So why did the NFL make such a poor choice of sod for the 2023 Super Bowl? Throughout the game, the players were slipping and sliding, which left viewers, both at home and in the stadium, questioning the safety of the surface. Patrick Mahomes from the Kansas City Chiefs was seen slipping on one play, and Philadelphia Eagles’ A.J. Brown also had trouble keeping his footing on another.

The reason is because of the halftime show. The halftime show is more important to the NFL than the game is, so they focus on the look of the field over durability, stability and player safety. This is why they went with the Tahoma 31, overseeded heavily with winter ryegrass.

The sod is laid 4 weeks before the game, then 2 weeks before the game they begin rehearsing the setup and take down of the halftime show, which requires 26 pieces of heavy equipment repeatedly crossing the field in defined patterns which causes compacting of certain areas to the hardness of cement while other parts of the field are softer when a less durable sod is used. The heavy traffic, combined with too much ryegrass, and too much water in the new sod, caused the slipping and sliding we saw in the Super Bowl this year.

The players themselves have weighed in on the matter as well. According to Yahoo Sports, Eagles defensive end Haason Reddick said, “I’m not going to lie, it’s the worst field I ever played on. It was very disappointing. It’s the NFL, you’d think it would be better so we can get some better play. But it is what it is.”

Even the players often don’t know the details of who makes decisions to install the sod, why they choose the sod variety they desire, or that if they had played on the field when the sod was chosen and installed by Evergreen Turf, there might have been much fewer slips and blunders. But Rihanna’s performance looked great, which is what mattered to the NFL when choosing to overseed too heavily for the field.

As for us at Evergreen Turf, we are a proud partner of the Arizona Cardinals. As a premier provider of sod in Arizona, Evergreen Turf is dedicated to ensuring the Cardinals’ field is ready to go on game day. Therefore, great care is taken in selecting, cultivating, and maintaining the particular variety of sod that is used in this unique and prestigious venue.

Now that the Super Bowl is over, Evergreen Turf is re-sodding the field and replacing the Superbowl sod. Here are some pictures of our re-sod.


We specialize in residential and professional sod installation across Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona. Got questions? Talk to one of our sod specialists today.

Comments are closed.