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Local company grows grass field specially for Chelsea FC match in Charlotte

Carolina Green Corp. services dozens of college and professional teams from Indian Trail.

INDIAN TRAIL, N.C. — Last week, on a farm 30 minutes from Charlotte, Danny Losito made final, and precise checks.

"We're kind of putting eyes on it for the last time before it gets harvested for install," Losito said.

Losito is the Manager of Fields and Conversions for Tepper Sports & Entertainment.

For the last few months, the pitch for Charlotte FC's friendly against Chelsea FC grew on a 45-acre property in Indian Trail owned by Chad Price and his wife Kerry.

"Thirty-four years in the business now," Price, president of Carolina Green Corp., said.

It's called GameOn Grass.

And from right here in the Charlotte region they service major college football surfaces, and NFL teams like the Chiefs and Ravens as well as the Panthers practice fields.

Part of the pitch to get popular English Premier League side Chelsea FC to play in Charlotte was the installation of natural grass, which all EPL teams play on.

"The way we've kind of cultivated it here is going to kind of simulate the grass that Chelsea is maybe preferred to," Losito said.

It's a fairly new variety called Tahoma 31 Bermudagrass. 

It's not exactly what's used across the pond, but it should feel that way for the players.

"More of an upright plant growth," Losito said. "So their cleats are coming in and out. A little bit more leaf for better ball roll."

Rolls. Hundreds of them. 

As Garth Brooks wrapped up his second concert at Bank of America Stadium, Price and his crew were harvesting the field at the farm. 

Thirty truckloads of sod rolls were then brought to Uptown Charlotte overnight for installation on top of a protective event surface left behind after the concerts.

Each load grossed 80,000 pounds.

"14-hour period," Price said. "Which we've done before but it's quite a challenge."

The grass is actually born in South Carolina and grown in sand to simulate its final destination. 

Then it moves to Price's property where it's grown on a bed plastic.

That, plus its weight (17 lbs. per square foot) gives this grass its greatest strengths.

"It makes the Bermudagrass intertwine the roots amongst themselves and it gets a really, tough, durable sod," Price said. "You can lay it on the ground and play on it immediately."

That's what they'll do Wednesday, under the watchful eyes of Losito.

"Players cleats are interacting how we want them to," he said. "And hopefully after the game is over, get some sleep."

Tepper Sports & Entertainment declined to give a cost for the project, but Carolina Green Corp.'s work at Texas A&M's Kyle Field in 2014 cost $300,000.

After Wednesday's match, some of the grass will be taken by members of the grounds crew for their own lawns, and some will be re-used on golf courses and the Panthers' practice fields.

Much of the field will no longer be usable after the match because the process to remove it is destructive to the grass.

Contact Nick Carboni at ncarboni@wcnc.com and follow him on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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