In partnership with The Motz Group, a prominent field construction company, the Columbus Crew was able to utilize its pitch at MAPFRE Stadium to display a message of support to the community earlier this spring.
As a result, a lot of questions arose about the project, including, quite simply, about how it was done.
So, we asked Columbus Crew Director of Grounds Ben Jackson for details about the type of machinery used and what preparations his team and The Motz Group had to do to ensure its completion.
What type of machine is it?
"The machine is an adapted z-turn mower and the mowing deck was replaced with the technology that consists of small adjustable blowing units that are controlled by a computer via attached solenoids."
How does the machine implement the design?
"A turbine sits on the back of the mower and directs air down to the deck and into the blowers. As the operator drives forward on a grid that is mapped out using GPS, the computer tells the blowers to adjust blowing the grass one direction or the other.
"This effect uses the same concept as our mowers by laying the grass over slightly to allow the light to reflect off the top side (giving the lighter color). The darker color comes from the reverse side where your viewing angle is the bottom side of the plants, down into the canopy where there is less light."
What is automated and what is operated by the driver?
"Everything is automated between the GPS, computer, and blowers on the unit. The operator drives the unit over the grid, and the computer does the rest."
What preparation went into this project?
"From a Grounds staff side, we needed a clean canvas where the art was going to be, so mowing a pattern that made sense and looked good for such a big single block in the middle of the pitch was the highest priority. It also gave us an opportunity to set up as we would for a match. Marking out the pitch and setting up the goals is something we have missed, so it was great to be able to do that again and share it with the fans and the community."
How did Mother Nature play a role in carrying out the project?
"We pushed back the day we did the project by a few days due to rain. Patterns show up on the field much better under direct sunlight, so we decided to wait for a sunny day."