Magic carpet ride

6-8-04, 4:30 p.m.

BY GEOFF HOBSON

Fighting through a cicadas cloud instead of a swarm of tacklers, Paul Brown Stadium's FieldTurf rolled up its first 30 yards of offense Tuesday when the dust bowl took on the first slash of green.

Dave Stapchuck, FieldTurf's lead installer, and his crew of eight began the installation process that should be completed by early next week if weather permits as the project continues on target for its June 30 completion.

Stapchuck's crew is replacing grass with what is basically a loosely-woven shag carpet of synthetic

fibers 2 1/4 inches long. More than 40 rolls of carpet, each 180 feet long and 15 feet wide, are in the process of being rolled out and sewn together. Using a huge sewing machine that knits the rolls together through polyurethane backing, the crew is stretching out the carpet over hundreds of tons of crushed stone.

But it wasn't easy.

"It looked like the plague of locusts," said Bengals business manager Bill Connelly as he described the crew being attacked by about 50-100 cicadas. "Their reaction to the noise of the machine was just amazing. Dave kept telling his guys before it was turned on, 'Be prepared for the attack.'"

But Stapchuck's crew is a grizzled veteran of the NFL's synthetic saga. FieldTurf has also installed carpets in Seattle, Giants Stadium, Minnesota and Detroit.

After the carpet is down in a couple of days, then comes the cutting in of the logos and hash marks. Then comes the final stage, which is blanketing the carpet with rubber and sand, and then brooming that combo down through the fibers to create the in-fill.

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