65°F
weather icon Partly Cloudy
The grass field tray system is prepared for installation for the Phoenix Cardinals NFL football game Dec. 21, 2018, at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. (Benjamin Hager / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Greener on the inside
Portable grass trays will move Raiders' surface indoors for games
The grass field tray system is prepared for installation for the Phoenix Cardinals NFL football game Dec. 21, 2018, at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. (Benjamin Hager / Las Vegas Review-Journal)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Before the Raiders take the field for games in their new stadium, workers will move a 9,500-ton natural grass field into place on the stadium floor.

A massive 4-foot-deep tray loaded down with grass, sand, gravel, irrigation and drainage components will roll in on 13 rails through a 14-by-240 foot opening at the south end of the stadium. With the tray powered by 76 electric motors and moving roughly 11 feet per minute, the task will take about 90 minutes to complete before every Raiders home game.

Stadium architects devised the elaborate system to grow nearly an acre of grass on a portable tray outdoors and then wheel it into place for games in response to Raiders owner Mark Davis’ insistence that his team play on a natural-grass field.

The ground-level field tray aperture is one of two large openings that have been designed for the $1.8 billion, 65,000-seat indoor stadium under construction at Interstate 15 and Russell Road. The other huge stadium opening at the north end of the building will accommodate the 80-by-215-foot lanai doors that face the Las Vegas Strip at the plaza level.

The field tray won’t be unique to Las Vegas. In fact, the Raiders only had to look 283 miles south, to Glendale, Arizona, for a similar operation.

State Farm Stadium tray

State Farm Stadium, the 63,500-seat home of the Arizona Cardinals and the site of the annual Fiesta Bowl football game, was the first NFL facility to develop a moveable field tray that transports the playing surface indoors for games.

inline-regFred Corsi, executive director of operations at State Farm Stadium, discusses the process of maintaining the grass field tray system for the 65,000 seat, multi-purpose football stadium on Dec. 21, 2018, in Glendale, Ariz. (Benjamin Hager / Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Fred Corsi, State Farm Stadium’s executive director of operations, oversees the field move-in, which usually occurs Friday afternoons before Sunday games.

The Arizona field move takes about 75 minutes to complete because the surface is slightly smaller than the one being developed in Las Vegas.

11 feet per minute

From a distance, the field tray containing the rye-Bermuda grass mix atop levels of sand and gravel, drainage and irrigation systems over rebarred concrete, motors and wheels on steel rails, seems to crawl.

Tray movement is powered by 48 electric motors. A power cord more than 200 feet long plugs into the front of the tray and powers it halfway into the stadium. At the halfway point, the cord is unplugged and moved to a rear electrical port to complete the journey.

The wheels roll atop 13 rails with a centered guidance rail that keeps the tray on a straight path.

inline-regA maintenance team brings in padding to line the area around the grass field tray in preparation for a Phoenix Cardinals NFL football game on Dec. 21, 2018, at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. (Benjamin Hager / Las Vegas Review-Journal)

State Farm’s system has an underground servicing trench that the tray passes over before entering the stadium. The Cardinals recommended that the Raiders make their trench wider to accommodate the variety of ladders and equipment used to service wheels and motors.

Las Vegas Stadium developers have seen the State Farm system operate, learning efficiencies to make the Raiders’ version better.

The Las Vegas tray is expected to have 76 motors — enough redundancy so that the field can still move if three motors per side were to fail.

Dealing with extra weight

inline-smallLanson Nichols, right, vice president of sports architecture at HNTB, with Don Webb, chief operating officer of the LV Stadium Co., is interviewed at the Raiders stadium construction site in Las Vegas on Jan. 3, 2019. (Erik Verduzco / Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Erik_Verduzco

Don Webb, chief operating officer of the Raiders’ stadium development subsidiary, and Lanson Nichols, vice president of sports architecture for Kansas City-based HNTB, the architect of record for the project, explained the big differences between the Arizona tray and the one planned for Las Vegas.

The field-tray opening in Arizona passes beneath an elevated walkway that connects the two sides of the stadium. In Las Vegas, there will be seating and concourses above the tray opening.

inline-largeRendering of the new Raiders stadium being constructed in Las Vegas.

“When you start adding up all that weight at ours, you’re seating probably 7,000 to 10,000 people,” Webb said. “It’s not just all of the concrete for the concourses and the multiple decks, restrooms and everything else, but it’s the live load of maybe 10,000 people that are on that. Phoenix doesn’t have to deal with that, which means the support for all of that structure and weight at ours is much more robust than in Phoenix.”

There are enormous costs and engineering challenges of the system because we’re essentially building that portion of the stadium, a very heavy structure, on top of a bridge.

Don Webb, chief operating officer of the Raiders’ stadium development subsidiary

Swiveling columns

To address this, the Las Vegas field-tray opening will have 22 columns that can swivel up or down and support the weight above it when a move is completed. The opening at State Farm Stadium has just two.

“There are enormous costs and engineering challenges of the system because we’re essentially building that portion of the stadium, a very heavy structure, on top of a bridge,” Webb said.

Safety procedures for each move are scheduled to be discussed this week by the Las Vegas Stadium Authority. Because there aren’t any safety protocols in place for anything like the field tray, the Stadium Authority drafted a stadium doors and columns operation agreement for review. A similar agreement was written for the the lanai doors at the north end of the building.

inline-smallDon Webb, chief operating officer of the LV Stadium Co., shows a drawing of the future Raiders stadium at the construction site in Las Vegas on Jan. 3, 2019. (Erik Verduzco / Las Vegas Review-Journal @Erik_Verduzco)

One of the safety rules will be that there can’t be any people in the sections above the field-tray opening when a field move is underway. Inspectors also will be required to be onsite for field moves as a safety requirement.

In addition to the grass, sand, gravel, irrigation and drainage components, the Las Vegas field will have heating elements because Southern Nevada winters are colder than Southern Arizona’s.

The Raiders haven’t determined what type of grass they’ll plant. They’re building a 25-by-40-foot mockup tray to test different types of grass as well as different spacing of heating elements. The Raiders have been in contact with Southern Nevada golf course managers for advice on the type of grass blend to use.

Like the Cardinals, the Raiders expect to have to resod the field at least once during the course of each season. For special events, there may be more resodding.

“You’ll typically resod before the Super Bowl or a big event like the college championship because you want it to look beautifully green and excellent for a broadcast,” Nichols said.

Artificial turf for UNLV

Another big difference between State Farm Stadium’s system and the one under construction in Las Vegas is that the concrete floor — a perfect base for trade shows or concerts — will be covered with artificial turf, the field surface of choice for the UNLV football team.

“This 4-foot-deep tray riding on 13 rails rolling in and out exposes the artificial turf that UNLV will be playing on,” Webb said. “It’s been designed so that it wouldn’t have to be removed for each game,” a big labor cost saving.

An extra 6 inches of clearance will enable the tray to move across the artificial-turf surface without disrupting it. Webb explained that turf “bacon strips” would cover the steel rails when the grass field is outdoors.

inline-largeThe Raiders stadium construction site in Las Vegas on Jan. 3, 2019. (Erik Verduzco / Las Vegas Review-Journal @Erik_Verduzco)

The artificial turf field will have end zones with UNLV’s scarlet and gray colors as well as UNLV logos on the turf and college field hash marks that lie closer to the sidelines than NFL field markings.

The Las Vegas field-tray opening will have a clearance of more than 14 feet, meaning tractor trailers will be able to drive onto the floor to unload equipment for concerts and trade shows.

“If it can fit under a bridge on the interstate, it’ll fit in our building,” Webb said. “That’s also perfect for TV trucks and team buses. It gives us a lot of back-of-the-house space.”

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Business Videos
How much do Las Vegas casino CEOs make?
Las Vegas gaming CEOs made anywhere between $1 million and $24 million last year, according to company filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. ((Las Vegas Review-Journal)
30-year-old Rio needs a little TLC
Nearly 30 years after the Rio opened, the red and blue jewel that helped catapult Las Vegas to a new level with its buffet and nightclub has lost its status along with its shine.
The latest on the Drew Las Vegas - VIDEO
Eli Segall recounts his tour of the Drew Las Vegas, formerly the Fontainebleau, on the Las Vegas Strip. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pinball Hall of Fame to move near south Strip
Operators of the Pinball Hall of Fame have been approved to build a new, larger arcade near the south edge of the Strip on Las Vegas Boulevard near Russel Road. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
National Hardware Show underway Las Vegas
The National Hardware Show kicked off Tuesday at the Las Vegas Convention Center (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Caesars for sale?
Caesars Entertainment Corp. has been swept up in takeover speculation since the company’s share price tumbled last year amid disappointing earnings and concerns over a recession. Amid the decline, hedge funds scooped up shares. Billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn began buying shares of Caesars as early as January. Icahn acquired nearly 18 percent by mid-March. In February Icahn called on the Caesars board to study a sale as a way to boost shareholder value.
Las Vegas home prices
Las Vegas home prices grew fastest among major markets in February for the ninth straight month. But amid affordability concerns, the growth rate has slowed down. Southern Nevada prices in February were up 9.7% from a year earlier, according to the latest S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller index. The last time Las Vegas' price growth fell below 10% was in September 2017, S&P Dow Jones Indices reported.
Free Parking Coming To Wynn
Free parking will come to the Wynn and Encore resorts on May 1, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Founding Venetian employees talk about 20 years at the Strip resort
The Venetian, which opened May 3, 1999, is celebrating 20 years on the Las Vegas Strip. Seven original employees talk about opening the luxury resort and working there for two decades. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Circa aiming for December 2020 opening
The 1.25-million-square-foot property will have 44-stories and 777-rooms. It will also have a separate nine-story, 1,201-space parking garage.
Boxabl official explains the building concept
Boxabl business development manager Galiano Tiramani shows off a room built by his company. (Blake Apgar/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TI/Mirage Tram reopens
The tram that shuttles guests between TI and Mirage reopened this week after being closed for much of 2018.
Las Vegas Convention Center expansion taking shape
Renderings and actual footage show how the Las Vegas Convention Center is evolving.
Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz at Las Vegas convention
Former Starbucks CEO and potential presidential candidate Howard Schultz spoke at the Epicor Insights user conference at Mandalay Bay Convention Center Wednesday, April 17, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Drew Las Vegas to open in the second quarter of 2022
The 67-story Drew Las Vegas is slated to open in the second quarter of 2022 at the north end of the Las Vegas Strip. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
NAB Day 1 (Time Lapse)
NAB kicked off at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Monday, April 8, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
National Association of Broadcasters Show shows 1mm thick 8K TV with 22.2 channel digital sound
Japan’s NHK Science & Technology Research Laboratories booth featured a 1mm thick 8K TV system used in conjunction with a 22.2 channel digital sound system at the National Association of Broadcasters Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Nevada shoppers react to Smith’s no longer accepting Visa credit cards
On March 1, Smith’s announced that it would no longer be accepting Visa credit cards at any of its 142 supermarkets, including the 45 in Nevada.
Massachusetts Gaming Commission asks how long Wynn executives knew about misconduct
Business reporter Rick Velotta gives an update on the adjudicatory hearing on the suitability of Wynn Resorts to retain its gaming license in Massachusetts.
Henderson app developer part of Startup in Residence
Henderson based developers of the app On Point Barricade are taking part in Startup in Residence, a North America program dedicated to pairing tech companies with governments. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Sam's Town employees and customers talk of their love for the iconic casino
Longtime Sam's Town employees and customers love each other and love their casino. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Las Vegas apartments rents
Las Vegas’ apartment market has accelerated in recent years. Developers are packing the suburbs with projects, landlords are on a buying spree, and tenants have filled buildings.
William Boyd talks about the birth of Sam's Town
On the eve of the 40th anniversary of Sam's Town, William Boyd, executive chairman of Boyd Gaming and son of hotel namesake Sam Boyd, talks about how the casino became one of the first local properties in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
High Roller observation wheel turns five
The world’s tallest observation wheel celebrates it’s fifth year on Sunday, March 31, 2019. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Vegas88s
Escape Room Industry Growing In Las Vegas
Escapology employees discuss the growing escape room industry in the U.S. and Las Vegas. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Impact of parking fees on visiting the Las Vegas Strip
There are no data showing a relationship between Strip resort and parking fees and the number of out-of-state visitors to Las Vegas. But there are data showing a relationship between Strip parking fees and the number of local visitors to the the Strip. ‘’As a local, I find myself picking hotels I visit for dinner or entertainment, based on whether they charge for parking or not,”’ said David Perisset, the owner of Exotics Racing. ‘’It is not a matter of money, more of principle.’’ A 2018 survey by the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance found 36.9 percent of Clark County residents reported avoiding parking at Strip casinos that charge for parking. 29.1 percent reported avoiding using any services from a Strip casino that charges for parking.
MGM's sports betting deals
MGM Resorts International signed a sports betting sponsorship agreement with the NBA in July It was the first professional sports league to have official ties with a legal sports betting house. The deal came just two months after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a law prohibiting sports betting in most states. In October, MGM became the first gaming company to sign a sports betting partnership with the NHL. In November, MGM became the first gaming company to sign a sports betting partnership with the MLB. Financial terms of Tuesday’s deal and earlier partnerships have not been announced.
Faraday puts Las Vegas land on the market
Nearly two years after Faraday Future bailed on its North Las Vegas auto factory, the company has put its land up for sale. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
El Cortez owner Kenny Epstein on running the iconic property
Kenny Epstein, owner of the El Cortez Hotel in downtown Las Vegas, talks about Jackie Gaughan mentorship and answers rumors about bodies in the basement at the mob-era casino. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
LVCVA recommends construction of underground people mover
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority announced the recommendation for an underground people mover for the convention center. The system would have the potential to expand and connect Downtown and the resort corridor all the way to McCarran. (Michael Quine/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST
 
Land owners near Las Vegas stadium enjoying Raiders value boost

The $1.84 billion stadium project about a mile west of Las Vegas Boulevard, was dumb luck for nearby landlords. A few bought property right across from the stadium site as recently as 2015 — two years before the football team purchased its land — and others have owned parcels much longer.