Highlights: Celebration Technical Management School

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Solutions and possibilities. These were the theme for the first ever Celebration Bermudagrass Technical Management School last week. Celebration Management School took place in 3 locations in Florida and featured extensive information exchange and idea generation. The Management School was based around the expanded possibilities of Celebration bermudagrass and how the unique varieties helps meet the demand for high traffic natural grass fields.  The school curriculum focused in on specific protocols and approaches for maintaining Celebration under high traffic and limited rest time.  It was a privileged for me to join Mr. John Chapman as one of the teachers for the school!

Each day’s venue provided a unique perspective.  Each has a unique venue for an athletic field school and a different perspective on high traffic Celebration bermudagrass.  The South Florida event was held at the Spanish River Library in Boca Raton, followed with a tour of de Hoernie Soccer Complex in Boca.  The west Florida event was held at the Sarasota Polo Club in Sarasota, FL.  And the central Florida event was held in the City of Orlando City Council Chambers with a tour of the high traffic public park/ open space at the Dr. Phillips Performance Arts Center.  Soccer, polo, and public space for all activities.  The high traffic, challenging demands that we all were able to observe Celebration sustaining growth and recovery under were all very unique.

Some of the initial highlights from the school included:

  • Encouragement to think outside the box and try new things, with Celebration maintenance and with natural grass field maintenance overall
  • Introduction to multiple examples of Celebration bermudagrass performing as the strong, durable, reduced input grass that meets the demand even under high traffic
  • Exploration of why and how Celebration bermudagrass has set itself as the standard bermudagrass to meet the demand of high traffic fields in the South

 

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Advancing into the technical information of the Celebration Management School, John Chapman and myself (along with unprecedented group participation) explored:

  • The simplicity and importance of mowing 2+ times per week at 1” or below to promote density, increase durability, reduce thatch accumulation potential, and provide natural weed control
  • A wide range of aeration techniques for meeting the demand for high use and promote Celebration’s ability to root up to 5’ in 1 year. Video examples supported the explanation of each aeration type to create a demonstration environment for participants.
  • How surface aeration and de-compaction aeration are 2 very different types of aeration. Real world data was supplied to illustrate how GMax reduction and infiltration rate increase differs with each.
  • Multiple cultivation tools to reduce/ remove thatch accumulation and promotion of lateral growth to increase density and durability. The tools range from simply brushing with a tow behind brush or brushes on the front of reels or decks to verticutting and even Universe® Fraze Mowing.
  • The importance of planning and combining aeration and cultivation practices to ensure maximum benefit with each and every practice that takes place.
  • Understanding that June, July, and August are the prime time to encourage and establish bermudagrass strength and root depth to support against high use all year round.
  • Soil testing results and why having data for plant available nutrients is as important as overall nutrient content in the soil.
  • Fertilizer technologies and techniques to promote consistent, healthy, strong Celebration growth nearly all year round.
  • Reinforcement of why durable, strong Celebration growth requires a maximum of 3-5 lbs N/ year and how most of that N should come from a slow release source of N
  • Potassium’s importance, leading to the need to keep yearly N:K ratios and 1:1 or 1:1+
  • Foliar feeding and how during periods of stress, especially fall, winter and spring, foliar feeding will act as a medical IV to support for Celebration growth and recovery.
  • How humic acid supports soil health and the battle against soil compaction from high use

 

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Celebration Management School students shared many examples of success with each topic. The interaction between participants and we as teachers was nearly the best I have ever experienced. Because of that, multiple points were created and raised:

  • Approaches for using growth regulators to 1) increase density and durability along with 2) decreasing mowing.
  • Using a moisture meter to track soil moisture to better manage irrigation and to track to what depth proper soil moisture is being reached during different times of the year. That moisture meter can also be used to create a standard for field closure protocols for rain.
  • Celebration has a strong ability to sustain growth in a wide range of soil pH conditions
  • Flushing during times of drought in Florida is vital to wash down salt and/or bi-carbonate build ups that come from poor quality irrigation water in the state.

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The end section of Celebration Management School shared ideas and featured dialogue between students in reference to Celebration’s ability to sustain winter growth and recovery:

  • Celebration is a “shade tolerant” bermudagrass. Shade tolerance indicates Celebration micromole requirement for light is lower than most all other bermudagrass. Thus winter’s short day length (example, Dec. 21 is the shortest day of the year) and low sun angle (sun is low on the horizon) do not cause Celebration to go dormant like other bermudagrass varieties
  • Because Celebration can survive low light conditions, tools like dye and paint can be utilized to absorb heat and promote growth
  • Grow tarps/ blankets, used regularly on fields in the central and northern part of the USA but not in Florida, can be excellent tools to generate heat and regeneration for Celebration during cooler winter months.
  • Results were share and examined from a University of Florida trial on the impact of a range of colors of topdressing sands to promote heat and growth. Those results are dramatic, and the trial is ongoing. The information is very valuable for supporting winter growth.
  • Re-visit to points made previously on foliar feeding in the winter to support Celebration plant systems.
  • Also re-visiting fertilizer technology and explanations of organic fertilizer/ mineral fertilizer blends work well in the winter to encourage soil microbes and generate heat
  • Overseeding: To overseed with ryegrass or not overseed with rye grass. Celebration’s aggressive nature allows it to transition back to 100% bermuda faster and with less inputs.
  • Celebration’s winter tolerance allows can allow for reduced overseeding rates

The discussion about deciding to overseeding or not to overseed was excellent. Ultimately, a Sports Turf Manager must balance what is best for the grass with what is best for the playability of the field. The majority of the group decided (with encouragement from the teachers) that playability and safety come #1, ahead of our desires to do what is best for the grass. With Celebration, overseeding is possible because it transitions quickly and aggressively.

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In closing the Celebration Technical Management School, participants were challenged with case studies for Celebration natural grass fields. Two scenarios of specific situations, time, and traffic demand were supplied. Participants split into groups where they worked to create their own management suggestions in reference to 1) mowing 2) cultivation 3) plant feeding and 4) additional comments for overall maintenance to meet the challenge. The case studies allowed participants to interact much like they do with them maintenance supervisors and staff each day  while at the same to provided us as teachers with an assessment tool to ensure the participants would be able to utilize information ASAP in their own maintenance plan.

THANK YOU to all participants that joined us for Celebration Technical Management School. Ultimately, we hope each participant was able to take a a minimum of 1 actionable idea back with them to utilize immediately with their maintenance routine. THANK YOU for your positive attitudes and open minds. The possibilities for Celebration are amazing, no doubt you will continue to see amazing results and be able to build on those through this growing season!

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SGL MasterClass Wrap Up

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MasterClass 2016 proved to be a thought provoking and educational event. MasterClass is an invitation only, education event put on by Stadium Grow Light (SGL) specifically for their over 180 stadium customers around the globe to come together. 2016 MasterClass was entitled “Back to the Future” to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the unique event. MasterClass #1 was also held in Holland, Home of SGL.  A full detailed break down of the event can be experienced here on the live blog of MasterClass 2016, “Back to the Future”.

Day 1 of MasterClass took place at the world famous Amsterdam Arena. Day 2 featured a visit to Porta Nova, the 25 acre rose growing operation that has been in SGL inventor Nico van Vuuren’s family since the 1890’s. At Porta Nova, MasterClass participants also were exposed to ongoing research being done by the SGL agronomy team. After Porta Nova, MasterClass moved to Rotterdam, Holland’s Feyenoord Stadium for a pitch tour and to wrap up the education and sharing.

Let’s look at some of the key thoughts and points of the events education and sharing:

IMPROVEMENT: SGL is the world leader in the supplemental light technology sector, a sector that they (SGL) created. Supplemental light research and technology reached the sales market during the early 2000’s when SGL successfully completed its first trial at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light in the UK. Since they have grown to have over 180 stadiums around the world using supplemental light for natural grass growth and recovery. But even as the world leader, SGL continues to evolve and improve.

Three examples of that improvement were on display at MasterClass:

LU440: The LU440 is a new, full size light unit with aluminum construction. The aluminum reduces the overall weight of the unit dramatically. It also allows the unit to fold up much easier, which saves time on set up and break down of light rig. The LU440 overall is a dramatic improvement on an already fantastic full size light unit, the MU360. While the LU440 is still in limited supply, the MU360 is still am amazing tool for supplying supplemental light!

IQ55: The IQ55 was considered by many as the star of MasterClass 2016. The IQ55 is a full climate controlled tent unit to provide natural grass field managers with a tool to control all components of plant growth. Temperature, humidity, moisture, CO2, O2, light… any and all factors leading to plant growth, health, and recovery… can be controlled with an automated system. And all of it mounted on a standard, MU50 type light rig frame for simple movement. As the playing season now is nearly year round, the IQ55 provides a tool that can support growth and recovery at any time.

Modeling Improvements/ Additional of Disease Pressure: SGL provides a high level of data and support models to its clients around the world. The model inputs include hours of play, weather conditions, and the expectation of field quality to dictate potential fertilizer needs and to supply the needed hours of lighting. SGL agronomists and engineers continue to evolve the growth and lighting models to best to supply clients with the correct lighting recipe to 1) use the light amount of light required and 2) meet the demands of field quality set by the client. A new addition to the models this year is disease modeling and alerting. The models will provide clients with on-demand data on potential diseases that their fields could be prone to. This data will greatly reduce the guessing that sometimes goes into spraying for disease suppression.
TECHNOLOGY: Technology is always evolving and improving. Especially with products involving energy and light. SGL is working closely with several companies to provide the latest in lighting innovation. These include the world leader in lighting, Phillips.

LED: LED is the most popular topic in the world in reference to lighting. Where LED is breaking into the stadium flood lighting market, for plant growth (and specifically grass growth) LED is still in development. The SGL research and development team is working closely with the green house development team at Porta Nova rose green houses to create the best system possible for LED and plant growth. The LED light spectrum can provide plants light. But heat is needed in combination with light to provide the most efficient growth. Currently the high pressure sodium lights provide that needed heat. Eliminating the high pressure sodium bulbs could reduce energy use, but then infrared heat is required to be added to provide the best growing conditions. The additional infrared heat actually increases overall energy costs.
In the end, it seems some sort of hybrid option with a mix of LED and high pressure sodium will be worked out. But as demands on natural grass increase, the need for light intensity and heat increases as well to encourage regeneration of the grass plants.  IMG_0598

IQ55: Back to the IQ55. The technology involved in the IQ55 controlled growing environment is a new level for anything ever seen in turfgrass growth. The automated sensor system inside the IQ55 allows a natural grass field manager to have complete control of the growing environment. Though somewhat small compared to a full size field, the IQ55 is large enough to treat and repair quickly high traffic areas such as the front of a baseball infield, between the hash marks on an American football field, or through the PK area on a soccer field. As the IQ series evolves, this will become a valued tool to win against high use.

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INNOVATION: To innovate is defined as to “make changes in something established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas, or products”. SGL was founded on innovation when it introduced the first supplemental turfgrass grow lighting solution into the market. No longer were shade or short day length limiting factors for natural grass growth. New solution, old problems.

Innovation is again a description with the UVC180 introduction. Turfgrass managers spend more time on disease pressure/ disease management than about any other turfgrass challenge. Many times budgets for fungicides match or even dwarf other budget categories. Thus, the potential that UV light could treat diseases to reduce the stress on turfgrass managers and/or reduce their budgets is ground shaking. No doubt there is much more to come in reference to UV light and diseases, but the initial introduction is extremely exciting!!!

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SGL MasterClass certainly was the thought provoking and educational event that participants had hoped for. Well done SGL, and CONGRATULATIONS on 10 years of such a unique and successful educational event.

FOR THE TIMELINE OF THE ENTIRE EVENT, VISIT HERE

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A Sincere Thank YOU

Statement from Jerad Minnick on President’s Award For Leadership

“Game Changer”. What a tremendous theme for the Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA) national conference last week. The STMA gathering in San Diego involved non-stop sharing and idea generation between Sports Turf Managers from around the world. Friday night’s Awards Banquet was the culmination. Founder’s Award were presented, Fields of the Year were all honored, and students were praised.  Each and every person or team honored, unique in their own way, overcome challenge to create great things with hard work and professionalism. An absolutely wonderful night all around. Bravo STMA!

Former President Allen Johnson’s presentation of the President’s Award for Leadership turned the banquet personal for me. In introducing the award, Mr. Johnson’s description of leadership was captivating. What a wonderful description. “It (leadership) is an act of someone who is unprovoked by others, but rather is driven from within themselves to set upon a course of action to accomplish something that they believe simply needs to be done. They demonstrate a passion for their vision and take measurable actions in achieving their goal. No matter how difficult the task or the odds stacked against them they forge on, knowing that their pursuit is a worthy endeavor.”

Working daily with Sports Field Managers and seeing first hand the effort they put into their natural grass fields is the best part of my role as an Advisor. Especially when perception and teaching still is that natural grass fields can not sustain an increased amount of use. Yet all around us Sports Field Managers make the impossible possible every single day. They display passion and perseverance. Many times they are required to sacrifice. But they forge on and get the job done because they love what they do.

With the description of “leadership” that President Johnson gave, I could think of so many people that deserve a leadership award. When “Jerad Minnick” came from his mouth, I nearly fell from my chair (that, or my colleague and friend Simon Gumbrill might have pushed me!). I appreciate the award greatly. THANK YOU. But this award really belongs to all of YOU. YOU vendors in our industry that are creating new solutions for old problems. YOU Sports Field Managers who are willing to buy into new ideas and set examples of how natural grass sustain an increased amount of use. Without your professionalism and hard work to produce shining examples of high quality, high use natural grass fields, I would just look like a raving lunatic living in a land of fantasy! THANK YOU to each and every one of YOU for what YOU do in proving that natural grass fields can take more!

And a heart felt THANK YOU to former President Johnson for the recognition. It’s special to receive a leadership award from a President that lead us all by example. Mr. Johnson, your professionalism and hard work makes the impossible possible… growing perfect grass for the Green Bay Packers. Thank you Mr. Johnson. You give us all an example to follow.

It is truly an honor to receive the President’s Award for Leadership. But ultimately, this award isn’t for or about Jerad Minnick… its about every one of YOU that prove wrong the perception natural grass can not take an increased amount of use. But we have no time for celebrate, our work is only STARTED. I hope YOU are excited as I am about the bright future for Sports Field Managers and the potential for natural grass fields. #GrassCanTakeMore!

“Success is no accident.  It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do”- Pele 

 

Transcript from Former President Allen Johnson’s introduction of the President’s Award for Leadership:

There are many different ideas of what constitutes the word Leadership. For the purposes of this award tonight, I’d like to define what leadership means to me. Its the act of someone who is unprovoked by others, but rather is driven from within themselves to set upon a course of action to accomplish something that they believe simples needs to be done. They demonstrate a passion for their vision and take measurable actions in achieving their goal. No matter how difficult the task or the odds staked against them they forge on, knowing that their pursuit is a worthy endeavor.

I do not personally know the individual that I have selected for tonight’s honor, but I know of them. I have shaken their hand only twice and said hello. However, I am aware of this person’s pursuit of their goal. At a time when it is so desperately needed in our industry, this person has been a staunch advocate for natural grass and its’ use as a playing surface for athletes across all sports and age groups. They have not only been a leading voice for the benefits that natural grass provides, but they have also benefited our industry by introducing ideas and concepts which push the professional sports field manager to better themselves, to push the envelope in their management techniques, and become even more valuable to their organizations.

Promoting the benefits of natural grass for athletic surfaces is not only highlighted as one of the main goals in the STMA’s strategic plan, it is sorely needed in our industry because it rarely has a voice to speak on its behalf. For these reasons I can think of no better person or no better time to honor this year’s Presidential Award for Leadership as Jerad Minnick.

 

“Let There Be Light” Follow Up

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There has been great idea exchange and feedback stemming from a recent article in SportsField Management “Let There Be Light”.  Thank you for that!! The article examines the introduction and use of supplemental light units for natural grass fields, back to its introduction from SGL in Holland.

What an enjoyable piece to put together! It stems from an “ah ha” moment during a recent visit to the UK.  A training ground was using the SGL light system for growth and recovery on high-use area on the training fields.  But wait?  Isn’t supplemental lighting just for stadiums with big roofs and shade?

NO!

When turfgrass growth slows in the fall/ winter/ spring, we concede the loss of growth to the time of the year.  The growth is slowed, yes by temperature in cold areas, but just as much by sun angle and day length.  8 hours of day length with the sun low on the horizon is not enough for grass to grow.  Thus is goes dormant.

And grasses themselves are grouped and described as “shade tolerant”.  Yet ultimately it really has nothing to do with shade.  “Shade tolerant” grasses simply require less light for maximum growth.  A great example is from the initial success of Latitude 36 bermudagrass in the transition zone.  In its first few year, Latitude has dramatically out performed other cold tolerant bermudagrass varieties in fall color and growth in the transition  zone.  Why does Latitude 36 sustain growth in the fall as temperatures fall and day length gets shorter?  Because it is a cold tolerant variety right?

Not all the case!  Latitude 36 is a very cold tolerant variety of bermudagrass. But via a new study from the USGA on “Development of Shade-Tolerant Bermudagrass Cultivars”, Latitude 36 now looks to be the most shade tolerant of all bermudas.  But again, its not just about shade… its about light requirement.  Latitude 36 stays strong with growth well into the fall because 1) yes, its a cold tolerant variety, BUT also 2) it requires less light to sustain growth.  As day length gets shorter and the sun angle gets lower in the sky through the fall, Latitude 36 is able to keep growing.

I reference the article “Pour Some Light On Me” from Dr. Karl Danneberger.  Dr. Dannenberger put all of these points into perspective magically several years ago.  THANK YOU for that!  Dr. Dannenberger references another study that caught my attention from Dr. B. Todd Bunnell and Dr. Bert McCarty on light requirement for TifEagle putting greens.  (Their study started in 2001, not 2004 as SportField Management referenced.  The GCSAA article was published August, 2004).  The article, “Sunlight requirements for ultradwarf bermudagrass greens” is tremendous.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Ultimately, turfgrass plants need light.  And supplemental light provides the opportunity for growth and recovery year round, where Mother Nature does not provide for year round growth from sunlight.  Hence, a training ground using supplemental light to promote growth and recover on high-traffic fields is not wasteful, but instead GENIUS!

That unique situation and the “ah ha” moment was a first, but there is no doubt that it will NOT be the last! With this type of innovation and technology, GrassCanTakeMore™!!!

See the full article here:  “Let There Be Light”, SportsField Management

JM

Announcement: Natural Grass Advisory Group™

 

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ANNOUNCEMENT: Natural Grass Advisory Group™ Launched By Growing Innovations For Independent Education and Support For Natural Grass Maintenance

GINGAG Annoucement PDF

Rockville, MD- The Natural Grass Advisory Group™ has recently been launched by Growing Innovations, LLC. Natural Grass Advisory Group™ (NGAG) is an independent education and support organization for natural grass sport surfaces. Natural Grass Advisory Group™ personnel and representatives soon will work world wide to independently advise and back natural grass sports fields, equestrian surfaces, golf courses, and home lawns.

Natural Grass Advisory Group™ education and support focuses on providing solutions for the on-going challenge of maintaining high-use natural grass surfaces. Historical perception has been that natural grass surfaces can sustain only limited use and require long closure periods for repairs. That perception is no longer reality. With evolving maintenance, new technology, and objective data from surface testing, Natural Grass Advisory Group™ education and support focuses on increasing natural grass use and reduce repairs.

NGAG work proves GrassCanTakeMore™!

Lead Advisor for the Natural Grass Advisory Group™ is Mr. Jerad Minnick. Minnick, a natural grass educator and advocate, is stepping down from his current position of President at Growing Innovations. This change ensures full independence of all NGAG education and support. Minnick will continue as an advisor for Growing Innovations projects and clients. Growing Innovations will immediately start the search for a new President. This person will foster relationships with existing GI partners and spear head the new GI research and surface testing/ data collection program utilized by NGAG and other Growing Innovations clients.

Natural Grass Advisory Group™: www.NaturalGrass.Org @GrassRevolution(twitter)

Lead Advisor Jerad Minnick is at jerad@NaturalGrass.org or @JeradRMinnick(twitter)

About Growing Innovations: Growing Innovations, LLC is a consulting firm dedicated to creating and providing advocacy for new solutions for old problems. Based in Rockville, MD, Growing Innovations provides support for clients in over 10 countries working within the natural grass maintenance industry. Growing Innovations inspiration comes from Albert Einstein: “We can not solve our problems with the same thinking that we used to create them”.

 For More Information: Contact Tori@GrowingInnovations.Net

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Rain, Rain, Rain: Play Through on Natural Grass!

Early in the day this past Saturday in Toronto, the rain began to fall. It was light at first, but it prevailed and increased in intensity through the afternoon. Match time for Toronto FC v DC United was 5pm. The rain continued throughout, with veteran Washington Post Soccer Insider Mr. Steven Goff tweeting “Raining so hard here in Toronto, looks like snow falling in front of floodlights” and again “Halftime in Hurricane”. Following that MLS match, Toronto FC II played host to the Wilmington Hammerheads with the rain continuing. By 10pm, 1.5” of rain had fallen and 180 mins of soccer had been played with no more than a scratch on the field.

BMO Field in the rain Saturday (Photo courtesy of Mr. Robert Heggie, Head Sports Field Manager)

BMO Field in the rain Saturday (Photo courtesy of Mr. Robert Heggie, Head Sports Field Manager)

The Saturday weather scene was nearly identical down the eastern USA coast. In Philadelphia at PPL Park, the rain started before and continued through the Philadelphia Union match. 1.3” total from 2pm to 10pm Saturday. 1” of that came just before or during the match. At Maryland SoccerPlex the heavy rain subsided just before match time. 1.75” in volume dumped in less than one hour as the Washington Spirit took the field. Toyota Stadium in Dallas experienced similar just 3 nights prior when 1.5” of rain drenched just before the FC Dallas match. 1/2” more pelted the players, fans, and field during the match. And each time, each field responded with strength and resilience.

1.75" in 45 mins soaks through field in 20 mins on SoccerPlex Stadium (Photo courtesy of Mr. Ryan Bjorn, Head Sports Field Manager)

1.75″ in 45 mins soaks through field in 20 mins on SoccerPlex Stadium (Photo courtesy of Mr. Ryan Bjorn, Head Sports Field Manager)

And the examples list goes on. Heavy rain across the central and eastern United States this past week played havoc on soccer matches.

Each of these are dramatic yet wonderful examples of how the perception “Grass fields always get rained out” is an absolute MYTH. The fact about rain and grass fields is simple: A natural grass field, when built or renovated correctly for drainage, can be 100% rain-out proof.

Yes, nearly any and all rain-out prone grass fields can be renovated easily to reduce or eliminate rainouts. And at 1/5 to 1/15 of the cost of replacing the field with artificial.

THANK YOU and KUDOS to every hard working Sports Field Manager, in ALL sports, who have fought through the recent rains. There are numerous more examples of natural grass fields sustaining play through the long, wet spring and early summer in the south and midwest to east. Your work provides more and more shining examples of how #GrassCanTakeMore™!!!

Stay tuned to GrowingGreenGrass.net in the next week for ideas and examples of renovation and maintenance tricks to help reduce/ eliminate rain-outs.

1.5" of rain in 2 hours prior to match at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, TX

1.5″ of rain in 2 hours prior to match at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, TX

15 mins later: 1.5" drained through prior to match at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, TX (Photos courtesy of Mr. Allen Reed, Head Sports Field Manager)

15 mins later: 1.5″ drained through prior to match at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, TX (Photos courtesy of Mr. Allen Reed, Head Sports Field Manager)