Apr 242012

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.

TeamStadiumFromToChanged To
Houston OilersAstrodome19681996Moved / Grass
Philadelphia EaglesFranklin Field19691970New Stadium / Old Style Artificial Turf
Miami DolphinsOrange Bowl19701975Grass
Dallas CowboysCotton Bowl ¹19701971New Stadium / Old Style Artificial Turf
Pittsburgh SteelersThree Rivers Stadium19702000New Stadium / Grass
St. Louis CardinalsBusch Memorial Stadium19701987Moved / Grass
Cincinnati BengalsRiverfront Stadium19701999New Stadium / Grass
San Francisco 49ersCandlestick Park19711978Grass
Chicago BearsSolider Field19711987Grass
New Orleans SaintsTulane Stadium19711974New Stadium / Old Style Artificial Turf
New England PatriotsFoxboro Stadium19711990Grass
Philadelphia EaglesVeterans Stadium19712000New Style Artificial Turf
Dallas CowboysTexas Stadium19712002 ⁴New Style Artificial Turf
Kansas City ChiefsArrowhead Stadium19721993Grass
Buffalo BillsRalph Wilson Stadium19732002New Style Artificial Turf
New Orleans SaintsSuperdome19752003 ⁴New Style Artificial Turf
Detroit LionsSilverdome19752001New Stadium / New Style Artificial Turf
Seattle SeahawksKingdome19761999Moved / New Style Artificial Turf
New York GiantsGiants Stadium19761999Grass
Minnesota VikingsMetrodome19822003New Style Artificial Turf
Indianapolis ColtsRCA Dome19842004New Style Artificial Turf
New York JetsGiants Stadium19841999Grass
Atlanta FalconsGeorgia Dome19922002New Style Artificial Turf
Seattle SeahawksHusky Stadium ²19941994Moved Back to the Kingdome
St. Louis RamsBusch Memorial Stadium ³19951995New Stadium / Old Style Artificial Turf
St. Louis RamsEdward Jones Dome ³19952004New Style Artificial Turf
Tennessee OilersVanderbilt Stadium19981998New 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

Game Stadium From To
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.

Additional Info

  • 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.


Sources: I used stadium pages from Wikipedia as a guide. I confirmed the use of old style AstroTurf through photos retrieved from Getty Images and US Presswire.

I also did some newspaper research. Click here to check out those sources.


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