At Olympics, Americans have home field advantage


EAST LANSING, Mich. —- Chinese officials have tapped Michigan State University’s preeminent turf scientists to help build a portable athletic field for this summer’s Olympics in Beijing National Stadium.

The MSU team, lead by professor John “Trey” Rogers, gained prominence by first introducing portable turf at the 1994 World Cup at the Pontiac Silverdome — the first time World Cup soccer was played indoors.

Takes months

The current, months-long project has involved building and managing more than 5,500 modules of Kentucky bluegrass about five miles away from the new Beijing stadium.

Immediately after the Aug. 8 opening ceremonies, the modules — each weighing 1,100 pounds — will be moved into the stadium.

MSU is acting as a consultant on the project. The turf will support the main track and field competitions and the gold medal soccer match, as well as future events at the 91,000-seat stadium, which is also known as the Bird’s Nest.

For more information, see the Special Report at

Learning experience

Rogers, an international expert on athletic turf and golf courses, said the knowledge gleaned from this and other major MSU turfgrass projects can benefit athletes all over the world.

“It has a wide range of applications,” he said. “If they were going to do a renovation at a high school field in Lansing, Mich., for example, we would use these same principles.”

Joining Rogers on the team are James Crum, fellow professor of turfgrass management, doctoral student Alec Kowalewski and Weijun Zhao, director of MSU’s Office of China Programs.

Kowalewski has been in China since May to manage the turf-growing process. He and Rogers will help install the field after the opening ceremonies.

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