Lambeau Field updates include a new surface

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The famous tundra at Lambeau Field is
getting a modern update at the end of the season that will include
a new surface, drainage and heating system.

In the meantime, the middle portion of the field is being
replaced this week before the Packers play their final two home
games in the span of five days beginning Dec. 17.

Right tackle Tony Moll said the field got too moist and chewed
up because of snow in Sunday's 38-10 loss to the New York Jets, but
defensive tackle Corey Williams still likes it.

"I don't think it was bad enough to the point where they can
change it," Williams said. "When you think about it, it can help
benefit us. I mean, make a team where they have to pass the ball
and won't be able to run the ball as effectively."

The Packers hope it's the last time they'll need to pull up the
sod during the season as they switch to the new natural grass
surface, which will include synthetic fibers stitched into the sod.

"It's grass, so that remains true to the spirit of our
stadium," general manager Ted Thompson said in a statement.
"Players will get dirty and have grass stains, that kind of

One of the team's outdoor practice areas, Clark Hinkle Field,
has had the surface since last year's training camp.

"I think what's on Hinkle is a lot better than what we've got
on Lambeau right now," linebacker Nick Barnett said. "Not to say
anything bad about it, because we've played on it and been
successful in years past, but we need a better playing field, I
think. It gets torn up all the time, and when you're trying to juke
or plant and make an open-field tackle, it sometimes gives."

The new surface already is used by the Denver Broncos,
Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers in their stadiums.

"If it's anything like Philly's field, yeah, that's cool,"
Williams said. "I like that field, that field felt pretty good."

The synthetic fibers, extending 8 inches below the surface with
an inch exposed at the top, give the field better footing and
eliminate clumps of sod, which have been a problem in recent weeks.

There will be new drain tile and irrigation piping underneath
gravel and 30 miles of tubing for the heating system, along with a
foot of sand on top.

The new sod will be in place in April or May, and by late July
the synthetic fibers will be stitched into place.

The crown of the field will no longer be perceptible to fans due
to the new drainage system, the team said.

There will also be a new, rubberized surface around the field
instead of concrete.

Carpet had been placed in the end-zone area up to and even with
the 20-yard line after safety Nick Collins slipped and hurt his
back during an intrasquad scrimmage in August.

Lambeau Field is the longest continuously occupied stadium in
the league since it opened in 1957. It has had two earlier heating
systems, one which famously failed during the Ice Bowl in 1967
against the Dallas Cowboys.