In 1970, NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle said he believed that all of the NFL’s teams would soon be playing on artificial turf. When artificial turf first came out people were excited about its weather resistant qualities. But that excitement quickly faded when players started to experience more injuries, and the fields started to prematurely wear down.
The first artificial fields didn’t resemble the synthetic fields were use to now. The synthetic fields of today closely mimic grass. While the old artificial turfs mimicked carpet. It was very easy to distinguish between a natural grass surface and the old artificial turf.
Starting in the mid 1970s and on there was a push to eliminate artificial turf in football. But the stuff slowly stuck around. In 1976 the Miami Dolphins were the first team to get rid of artificial turf in their stadium, followed by the San Francisco 49ers in 1979. But it wasn’t until the 2005 season that the NFL completely rid itself of the old style artificial turf.
Chronology of Old Style Artificial Turf in the NFL
Columns can be sorted by clicking on the titles in the header.
|Houston Oilers||Astrodome||1968||1996||Moved / Grass|
|Philadelphia Eagles||Franklin Field||1969||1970||New Stadium / Old Style Artificial Turf|
|Miami Dolphins||Orange Bowl||1970||1975||Grass|
|Dallas Cowboys||Cotton Bowl ¹||1970||1971||New Stadium / Old Style Artificial Turf|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||Three Rivers Stadium||1970||2000||New Stadium / Grass|
|St. Louis Cardinals||Busch Memorial Stadium||1970||1987||Moved / Grass|
|Cincinnati Bengals||Riverfront Stadium||1970||1999||New Stadium / Grass|
|San Francisco 49ers||Candlestick Park||1971||1978||Grass|
|Chicago Bears||Solider Field||1971||1987||Grass|
|New Orleans Saints||Tulane Stadium||1971||1974||New Stadium / Old Style Artificial Turf|
|New England Patriots||Foxboro Stadium||1971||1990||Grass|
|Philadelphia Eagles||Veterans Stadium||1971||2000||New Style Artificial Turf|
|Dallas Cowboys||Texas Stadium||1971||2002 ⁴||New Style Artificial Turf|
|Kansas City Chiefs||Arrowhead Stadium||1972||1993||Grass|
|Buffalo Bills||Ralph Wilson Stadium||1973||2002||New Style Artificial Turf|
|New Orleans Saints||Superdome||1975||2003 ⁴||New Style Artificial Turf|
|Detroit Lions||Silverdome||1975||2001||New Stadium / New Style Artificial Turf|
|Seattle Seahawks||Kingdome||1976||1999||Moved / New Style Artificial Turf|
|New York Giants||Giants Stadium||1976||1999||Grass|
|Minnesota Vikings||Metrodome||1982||2003||New Style Artificial Turf|
|Indianapolis Colts||RCA Dome||1984||2004||New Style Artificial Turf|
|New York Jets||Giants Stadium||1984||1999||Grass|
|Atlanta Falcons||Georgia Dome||1992||2002||New Style Artificial Turf|
|Seattle Seahawks||Husky Stadium ²||1994||1994||Moved Back to the Kingdome|
|St. Louis Rams||Busch Memorial Stadium ³||1995||1995||New Stadium / Old Style Artificial Turf|
|St. Louis Rams||Edward Jones Dome ³||1995||2004||New Style Artificial Turf|
|Tennessee Oilers||Vanderbilt Stadium||1998||1998||New Stadium / Grass|
¹ The Dallas Cowboys played two regular season home games at the Cotton Bowl, before moving into the brand new Texas Stadium.
² The Seattle Seahawks played three regular season homes game at Husky Stadium, while the Kingdome underwent repairs.
³ The St. Louis Rams played four regular season homes games at Busch Memorial Stadium, and four at the Edward Jones Dome (then known as the Trans World Dome).
⁴ The switch to new style artificial turf occurred mid-season.
Other NFL Venues That Used Old Style Artificial Turf
|Super Bowl VIII||Rice Stadium||1973|
|Pro Bowl||Aloha Stadium||1979||2002|
|Hall of Fame Game||Fawcett Stadium||1997||2003|
Peak Use of Old Style Artificial Turf in the NFL
A little under 61% of NFL teams were playing on old style artificial turf from 1985-1987; the peak use of the turf in the NFL.
- In 1968 the Houston Oilers (in the AFL at the time) were the first major pro football team to play their home games on old style artificial turf. In 1969 the Philadelphia Eagles were the first NFL team to play on the turf.
- The Indianapolis Colts and St. Louis Rams were the last NFL teams to play on old style artificial turf. Both teams switched to newer style artificial turf in 2005.
- In 1995 the St. Louis Rams were the last team in the NFL to install old style artificial turf in a new venue (Edward Jones Dome).
- For 33 ½ seasons the New Orleans Saints played their home games on old style artificial turf; the most seasons in the NFL. Followed by the Dallas Cowboys 33 ¼ seasons, and the Philadelphia Eagles 32 seasons.
I also did some newspaper research. Click here to check out those sources.