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The Gold Cup semifinal surface in a word: terrible

Jul 23, 2013, 6:28 PM EDT

Cowboys Stadium

ARLINGTON, Texas – You can spend a billion dollars on a stadium, but you cannot buy your way around Mother Nature.

The field outside Dallas, where the United States will play its Gold Cup semifinal Wednesday against Honduras, is terrible.

Not that this should surprise anyone. The surface has always splotchy at very best when games have been staged here previously at Cowboys Stadium outside of Dallas. (A place referred to locally as the Death Star; I mean, you’ve seen it, right?)

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones spent $1 billion on the facility, which should be sold out for a Wednesday Gold Cup doubleheader that includes Mexico. But lack of natural sunlight and circulating air means grass just doesn’t grow here.

So while the temporary surface put down over artificial turf in Baltimore for Sunday’s quarterfinal was imperfect but passable, this one is full of seams, bumpy, hard and too small.

Let’s hope nobody gets hurt and that the game isn’t impacted too badly. And let’s especially hope no one hurts themselves badly in corners areas that are way, way too close to the retaining walls.

One more time: domestic soccer should be past this. There are enough stadiums around, facilities of all kinds of size, that have lovely natural grass fields.

  1. thedynamicuno83 - Jul 23, 2013 at 7:13 PM

    Why couldn’t they have selected University of Phoenix Stadium? It’s in the same general region, similar fan demographic, holds close to the same amount (or at least the huge number I’m sure CONCACAF is looking for) and lo and behold it has a natural grass surface. Jerry must’ve ponied up big bucks for the game.

  2. changofeo - Jul 23, 2013 at 9:05 PM

    Seriously, did the grounds crew forget to pencil in “Major Soccer Tournament” on the calendar for Wednesday?

  3. hildezero - Jul 23, 2013 at 10:32 PM

    CONCACAF are dumb for not making the best sports stadium in North America host the semifinal or final, U of P Stadium. Doesn’t CONCACAF know that U of P Stadium has a roll-in grass that is grown properly and has been voted by the NFL players as the best turf in the National Football League many times. It has a HUGE capacity, yet they put it at the Dallas “Toilet Bowl” Stadium… Pft… What a joke.

  4. footballer4ever - Jul 24, 2013 at 12:12 AM

    It’s all about the Benjamins, baby !

  5. boscoesworld - Jul 24, 2013 at 11:27 AM

    How bout Seattle where it will still be a sell out but would actually offer a home field advantage for the USA!!!

    • mjbostwick - Jul 24, 2013 at 11:39 AM

      Yes, SEATTLE, SEATTLE, SEATTLE! It would do the gold cup proud. And the weather is a perfect 80 degrees.

  6. cscobra14 - Jul 24, 2013 at 11:37 AM

    CONCACAF does not give home field advantage to the nations in the confederation tourney….the only reason the US hosts the tourney is twofold. The first is the amount of money the CONCACAF makes from the tourney. And the second, slightly less important, is most other nations in the region simply can not handle a big tourney like the GOLD CUP (Mexico probably is the only other one, yes Canada is a maybe) and security issues would be a massive problem as well as just basic infrastructure is not in place in for host other nations. Gold Cup is never meant to give the US an advantage

  7. cscobra14 - Jul 24, 2013 at 11:40 AM

    Do you not follow sports in the US? All kinds of fields in the US that have real grass and the professional teams will let them use the field for a couple games? The reality is other than soccer specific stadiums (smaller crowds, less money made) there is not a lot of options to play the games in larger stadiums. Most teams do not watch their field tore up before the season so its an automatic no.

  8. mjbostwick - Jul 24, 2013 at 11:41 AM

    If it’s played in your house, it SHOULD be an advantage.

  9. hildezero - Jul 24, 2013 at 2:01 PM

    Phoenix would’ve been a great place to host the semifinal.

  10. bigmo2013 - Jul 24, 2013 at 4:51 PM

    Hopefully it’s better than this article suggests, but both teams have to play on it so… oh well!

  11. bishopofblunder - Jul 24, 2013 at 5:03 PM


    You are right about the cost of the stadium (~$1 billion), but Jerry didn’t pay it all. The citizens of Arlington subsidized over half of it, if memory serves.

    • hardinjw - Jul 25, 2013 at 9:55 AM

      You’re correct, bishop, “…Jerry didn’t pay it all.” Here’s the breakdown:
      Total cost of Cowboys Stadium–$1,300 million
      City of Arlington’s share–$325 million
      NFL stadium loan–$150 million (this is a loan, not a grant or a gift)
      Jerry’s share (not including the loan, just the cash he put up)–$825 million

      The City of Arlington owns the stadium. The Dallas Cowboys (owned by the Jones family) operates the stadium. Overall it seems a pretty good deal for everyone involved.

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