ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Just in time for a new owner, the St. Louis Rams are about to get a new playing field.
The St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission plans to install a permanent artificial field turf surface in time for the 2010 season. A news conference to formally announce the improvements could be held as early as Friday.
News of the $2.5 million upgrade coincides with Rams owners reaching agreement with a potential buyer for the franchise.
CVC president Kitty Ratcliffe said Thursday the field will be comparable in quality to surfaces used the last four seasons with one major difference: The new field is convertible and can be rolled up after the season.
"The last four seasons have been challenging," Ratcliffe said.
Previous artificial turf surfaces using rubber pellets as filler at the Edward Jones Dome were recycled at the end of the season to clear space for exhibitions. Ratcliffe said more than a half-dozen conventions this year will use the field space, which is also used for public shows and spectator events like monster truck races.
The four removable fields cost the CVC between $250,000 and $300,000 annually, plus additional expenses for a hard plastic cover used during the season, Ratcliffe said. The new field will cost $2.5 million, but that price tag includes one-time expenses including a rebuilt pit and new steel and mechanical equipment, including a winch system.
The dome opened in 1995. Improvements must be completed by spring 2015 or the team could go to a year-to-year lease.
Neither the team nor the CVC believes it'll get to that point with the relationship much improved since the Rams overhauled the front office a year ago.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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