NFL Kickoff Marred by Sticky Paint


Paint is being blamed for the cancellation of this year’s Hall of Fame Game, the traditional first preseason game of the National Football League's year, in Canton, OH.

The game, scheduled for 8 p.m. EDT, Sunday (Aug. 7), was called off just about an hour before kickoff, reports say, because field paint at the 50-yard line and in the end zones was “like cement,” according to an Indianapolis Colts player who spoke with ESPN. So far, it is unclear what kind of paint was used on the field.

The game, the culmination of induction weekend for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, was to be played between the Colts and the Green Bay Packers. The venue was Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, currently under construction. It stood at the site of the former Fawcett Stadium, which previously hosted the game.

New Surface

The surface on which the game was to be played was reportedly UBU Sports artificial turf, used for one season at the Superdome in New Orleans and installed temporarily at Tom Benson Stadium specifically for the Hall of Fame Game. It’s a different surface than last year’s game (at which Pittsburgh Steelers kicker Shaun Suisham suffered a season-ending injury), and was already set to be replaced again for next year.

Reports say the field was checked and deemed safe Sunday morning, but that by later afternoon, decorative paint created a hard, sticky, hazardous surface.

Sources told ESPN that crews tried using solvents on the paint, then turned heat on the surface, which melted rubber pellets that are part of the turf. It is unclear whether any painting had been done during the day Sunday; activities took place on the field earlier in the weekend, with tarps covering the turf.

A reporter said the surface was “like taffy,” and said that her understanding was that “the wrong paint was used.”

"When the field was put down—this was a brand-new field that had only been used one year at the Superdome in New Orleans—when it came here, it passed the safety tests,” Pro Football Hall of Fame President David Baker told “This morning when the cover was taken off, it passed the safety tests then. But I think the concerns were really about the painting and the rubberized surface."

Game Cancelled

The game was finally called about 90 minutes before kickoff, leaving fans already in the stadium disappointed. The NFL and the Hall of Fame have said that attendees would be offered refunds; refund information was set to be released Monday (Aug. 8), but was not available at deadline.

The league and the Hall of Fame have not yet released information about the type of paint used and exactly why it failed.

“I think it’s certainly something we’re going to have to get to the bottom of,” Baker told reporters immediately after the cancellation. “We’re going to bring in all the experts we need to get it right.”

Colts coach Jim Irsay echoed the sentiment. “We have to make it right to our fans and also get to the bottom of exactly who got this paint job done and why was there incompetence," he told Fox Sports.

'A Disaster'

PackersNews, a blog associated with USA Today, wrote that areas where blue and black paint were used seemed to be where the paint “melted”; white areas seemed to be in good shape.

“If they’d have played, there almost surely would have been ankle and knee injuries from players’ cleats sticking in those spots. It would have been a disaster,” wrote the site’s Jim Dougherty.

The Hall of Fame Game has been played annually since 1962, with the exception of 1966 (the year the NFL merged with the rival AFL) and 2011 (when players were locked out during a labor dispute).


Tagged categories: Coating failure; Commercial / Architectural; Good Technical Practice; North America; Paint application; Specification; Stadiums/Sports Facilities

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