Last week, a couple beat reporters caught up with Sounders FC general manager and coach Sigi Schmid about playing on the Qwest Field turf. The training session where James Riley and Mike Seamon went down with apparent injuries made it relevant and here are the Q&A transcripts:
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Q: Are there concerns about the Qwest Field turf and is there talk about replacing it?
Hanauer: “We’re always in active communication and conversation with Vulcan and our partners over there. I think everyone wants the optimal turf all the time for both soccer and football and we’ll continue to communicate. I’m certain that if the football guys and soccer guys all come together and decide that a new turf is needed, then the economics are not going to get in the way. It is something that we’re concerned with, but it’s something that we’re going to always be concerned with. The minute a new turf gets laid down we’re going to be concerned with making sure it’s optimal for both sports.”
Q: Is it more of a concern with recent injuries?
Hanauer: “Every time you have injuries it’s going to be a concern and certainly coming out of a training session where a few guys went down, I think the urgency to look into it gets raised. But if we’re doing our jobs right we’re consistently going to be paranoid about making sure the surface is optimal. Yeah it was definitely disappointing to see two guys go down yesterday.”
Q: Will this be the turf at Qwest for next season?
Hanauer: “I’m not sure I have enough information to answer that. What’s safe to say is that if both the football and soccer groups thought that there was new turf required, I think we’d find a way to get the turf replaced. But I don’t have enough information yet to even know what Vulcan and the Seahawks (are thinking). I wouldn’t want to put words in their mouth or imply I have any understanding as to where they feel like the turf is currently. They may think it’s fantastic, they may think it’s horrible. I just don’t know.”
Q: Is grass even on the radar?
Hanauer: “Again it’s a continual conversation, but it’s complicated, obviously. We have a football team, a soccer team, lots of events in the stadium, changing technologies, a stadium that was built for turf, different demands in the different sports. To characterize the grass discussion as completely closed is I think not accurate. It never has been accurate. It’s a continuing evolution and conversation. There’s no doubt that the soccer guys optimally would prefer a perfect grass pitch. Again I don’t have enough information but my hunch is the football guys would prefer a perfect grass field, but there are just some realities to what we’re dealing with and how we make it the best for everyone. Again, right now standing with you, I don’t have enough information to know where we’re at on the field.”
Q: Has playing on turf played a part in your team’s injuries this season?
Schmid: “Obviously the injuries yesterday were on turf. The original injury to Brad Evans happened in the game against New York in the Red Bull game. When turf is new and the blades stand up, it’s OK. When it gets a little more matted down, which is maybe the situation at Qwest now a little bit, we really have to look at do we maybe replace that turf a little bit earlier than normal because of the additional wear and tear that’s been put on it by having a soccer team and a football team. And also just for soccer that newer turf makes a difference. It is what it is. Sometimes you go through streaks, injuries happen sometimes, so I’m not going to lay it at the foot of turf right now. Certainly the Qwest turf is more matted down than our training field or at Starfire.”