6-25-02, 1:15 a.m.
BY GEOFF HOBSON
The Bengals are prepared to replace the entire field before the Aug. 24 pre-season home opener, but won't make an evaluation of the Paul Brown Stadium grass until after this week's Billy Graham Mission.
Workers spent this past weekend transforming the bowl, a transformation that includes a temporary stage stretching across the field at one of the 20-yard lines. Stadium manager Eric Brown estimated 25 percent of the field has already been lost before the first of five events on Thursday.
But Brown is optimistic some of the field can be saved. He said Monday he doesn't expect the same problems that have plagued the field since the building opened two years
ago, when the grass has crumbled into a sandy mix late in the season. Brown said the replacement grass that is now sitting in reserve in New Jersey is more soil-based and will smooth any quick transition.
"It will have more soil than we've had in the past," Brown said. "It won't be a rush job because we're going with a thicker cut sod. Its roots are already established. Once it gets put down, it will acclimate itself much better to the field. The problem with the last re-sodding we had done is that we had thinner cut sod and the roots hadn't been established. The material is going to be thicker and it should be able to grow quicker."
Trucks and cranes have spent the past 72 hours moving across a plywood road that stretches for about 85 yards down the middle of the field to the stage. Brown says that grass is already gone, but he's optimistic it all won't die.
"A lot depends on the weather," Brown said. "If we get rain, that won't be good. The field is going to be covered by a woven plastic tarp during each event, and it will be taken off for the grass to be watered and cut as needed."