Vet going out as worst stadium


Published: Friday, January 24, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 23, 2003 at 10:35 p.m.

SAN DIEGO (AP) - There's no way the turf at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia can get any worse.

Only because it won't be around next season.

The NFL Players Association released its biennial ranking of NFL playing surfaces Thursday. And surprise: The Vet ranked worst in the league once more, giving it a clean sweep of the worst spot since the survey began in 1994.

"It's true," NFLPA executive director Gene Upshaw said. "It's a horrible field. Just awful."

The stadium known for hastening the end of many careers _ Wendell Davis, George Teague and Michael Irvin, to name a few _ has hosted its last NFL game.

Much to the rejoicing of players around the league, it will be demolished after baseball season and replaced by a new stadium in nearby South Philly.

As former Eagles linebacker Bill Bergey put it, "It's a dump, it's a toilet and the field is horrible, but it was our field, our dump and our toilet."

With the Vet gone, Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. becomes the next NFLPA target. The home of the Giants and Jets ranked second on the worst-fields list, even though it has natural turf.

In fact, five of the 10 worst fields were natural surfaces. Ranked 10th worst was Qualcomm Stadium, the field where the Super Bowl takes place Sunday.

"This survey demonstrates that a grass surface alone is no guarantee of excellence," Upshaw said.

The grass field in Cincinnati, a horribly torn-up surface, especially in the winter, was third worst. Artificial surfaces in Minnesota and New Orleans rounded out the bottom five.

"I remember there was a preseason game in Minnesota and the players were calling me, they were so upset," Upshaw said. "They were just dropping all over the place."

Raymond James Stadium in Tampa ranked first on the list of best surfaces. It was followed by Arizona, Seattle, Carolina and Jacksonville.

Seahawks Stadium uses FieldTurf, a new artificial turf set on a base of sand and rubber. Detroit's Ford Field, which uses the same surface, was rated 11th on the list of best fields.

More than 1,300 players filled out the extensive surveys. Among the other findings were that 88.8 percent of players preferred playing on grass over artificial surfaces, and 57.9 percent said they suffered one or more injuries on turf that they don't believe they would have occurred on grass.

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