Jay-Z, Beyonce show forces South Carolina to replace field

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- South Carolina is fully replacing its football field less than a week before the season opener after hosting a Jay-Z and Beyonce concert.

Crews trucked in sod from Sugar Hill, Georgia, after the old field had to be removed following the superstar couple's concert last week.

South Carolina staff will spend Monday installing more than 90,000 square feet of Bermuda grass, said Clark Cox, the school's assistant athletic director in charge of turf and landscaping services.

The field is expected to be ready when South Carolina opens its season by hosting Coastal Carolina on Sept. 1. The Gamecocks also have home games against national runner-up Georgia on Sept. 8 and Marshall on Sept. 15.

"We would not have done this if we believed there was a safety issue," Cox said. "My job and our entire ground staff's job, our No. 1 priority in everything we do, is safety and welfare of our student-athletes."

South Carolina had planned for the possibility of such a changeout when Williams-Brice Stadium was picked as a stop for Jay-Z and Beyonce's tour about 18 months ago, athletic director Ray Tanner said.

Concert crews needed about a week to set up the massive stage used for Tuesday night's show. Coach Will Muschamp and his players were among the 40,000 or so who attended.

A hard cover was put over the field to protect it from wear and tear caused by construction of the stage and concertgoers. But when the cover was removed, it was clear the grass had died and needed to be replaced, Cox said.

The replacement cost, which Tanner estimated as between $150,000 to $200,000, was covered by concert promoters.

Cox's crew removed the dead grass and prepared the field for its new sod. Machines rolled out the strips of sod in place while crews cut off appropriate strips to meld one section into another.

Cox explained how turf management has advanced to where stadiums can replace sod, roll it into place and play on the surface the next day. He said there are numerous examples of professional and college stadiums that held nonsporting events and quickly repaired or replaced fields without incident.

Both Tanner and Cox expect the field to be stable come time for kickoff.

"You can see chunks come up on any field," Cox said. "The idea with this sod is you can literally play on it right away. We could play a football game this afternoon if we wanted to."