There seems to be little debate: A perfect grass pitch is almost always preferable to an artificial one. There are plenty of studies that suggest that's ridiculous and some of the newer surfaces may actually be superior to grass, but the perception is there. Here's the thing, though: As long as the Seattle Sounders play at CenturyLink Field, we should expect them to play on some sort of artificial turf.
I know that's something that many people don't want to hear, but Sounders VP of Business Operations Gary Wright, gave little hope to grass enthusiasts when he talked to the media on Monday.
"It's the configuration of the roof -- the shadows and the patterns," Wright said. "It would just be impossible to replace all the time. You'd be playing in mud more than half the season, even if you kept replacing the field. It sounds great, and I know there was speculation that Mike Holmgren didn't want grass, he wanted an artificial surface. Right from the beginning (Sounders and Seahawks owner) Paul Allen wanted grass, Mike Holmgren wanted grass, everybody wanted grass. If it would have worked, it would be grass."
There was some good news to come out of Wright's comments, though. Namely, he expressed a willingness on the ownership of both the Seahawks and Sounders to replace the turf as often as is necessary. Hopefully, that means the field will never be in as bad of condition as it was last year.
"I think we have a commitment from the entire ownership group that when it needs to be replaced it'll be replaced ahead of schedule," Wright said. "We're not going to get into a situation where it doesn't look as good or doesn't play as well as it should."
None of this will eliminate the calls for grass, of course. There will always be those that bemoan the fact that the Sounders play on a surface that is deemed substandard by the soccer community.
There are signs that attitudes around the world may be softening against artificial turf. The English Football League is reportedly considering lifting its ban on plastic. The early indications from the Sounders that new pitch is a significant upgrade over last year's surface. Players seemed to give the fields at Jeld-Wen Field and BC Place similarly positive reviews last year.
Sure, we may still have to bring in temporary grass when the likes of Manchester United are in town and the United States national team still seems dead-set against playing here, but those opinions seem to be changing. CONCACAF has already deemed artificial turf to be playable and youth World Cups have been played on the fake stuff, as well. As long as the Sounders are committed to keeping CenturyLink's turf up to date, these issues should slowly dissipate. At the very least, it seems that the time has finally come where we should stop feeling compelled to apologize for our turf. At least, let's hope.