The weather at the Grey Cup seemed ideal for a late November day in Edmonton. You wouldn’t know it by the state of the field at Commonwealth Stadium.
The field conditions emerged as one of the main talking points in Calgary’s 27-16 victory over Ottawa in the CFL’s championship game on Sunday. Traction was challenging at best for players as the artificial turf surface became icy and slick.
On Monday, the CFL said it planned to meet in the off-season with turf manufacturers and stadium operations staff to see if improvements can be made.
“The teams performed well and the game certainly produced a worthy Grey Cup champion,” the league told The Canadian Press in an emailed statement. “But it was obvious the field was slippery. While the teams chose to practise indoors this week, the field was groomed on a regular basis. However, with temperatures fluctuating for days, moisture accumulated near the base of the turf and ultimately froze.
“Weather and challenging playing conditions have long been a part of late-season football. But we do plan to sit down with manufacturers and stadium operations staff this off-season to explore what else could possibly be done in the future to improve the playing surface in such conditions.”
The temperature hovered near the freezing mark at kickoff with light winds. However, the playing surface got worse as the mercury dropped.
“It was treacherous,” said Stampeders head coach Dave Dickenson. “It was just about like a road right after a snowstorm.”
It didn’t seem to matter what kind of cleats the players used as slipping and sliding became the norm rather than the exception.
“It wasn’t pretty icy, it was very icy,” said Ottawa running back William Powell, who ran for a game-high 94 yards. ”But both teams had to play on it. Hopefully in the future we can make better conditions for the Grey Cup but that’s just how it was today.”
The 56,000-seat stadium was refitted with new turf ahead of the 2015 Women’s World Cup soccer tournament. The turf has a life cycle of eight to 10 years.
Messages left with the stadium’s building supervisor and the turf maker and installer were not immediately returned.
The 2019 Grey Cup will be played at McMahon Stadium in Calgary.
Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press