MetLife Stadium to put in grass field for 2026 World Cup, stick with turf for NFL season

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ORLANDO — Giants president and CEO John Mara said a grass field will be put in for the 2026 World Cup at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. But it’s a different type of grass than would be used for American football, which is played at MetLife by the New York Giants and Jets.

The venue was selected ahead of Dallas’ AT&T Stadium and L.A.’s SoFi Stadium to host world football’s prestigious finale. The final will take place July 19, 2026.

Mara also said other changes will be in store for the stadium ahead of the World Cup.

“We’re talking about some pretty significant renovations at some point but our plans are not finalized on that yet,” Mara told reporters at the league meetings on Monday. “They have to take out some seats in the lower level in order to fit the field in. And we’ll have to put temporary seats in.”

Mara said those seats will be back in for the football season, which officially begins in September but preseason games occur in August.

The Giants currently use a FieldTurf Core, which was installed last offseason. There’s long been a debate on grass versus turf with MetLife Stadium taking center stage after Jets quarterback Aaron Rogers tore his ACL in last season’s opener. While it’s a constant discussion, Mara said they’re not yet at a point where they could have a safe playing field late in season on a grass field.

“I want to get to the point where the experts can tell us that late in the season we can have a safe, playable grass field,” Mara said. “When we get to that point, then maybe we make the switch. We’re not there yet.

“With the amount of events in our building, particularly during the football season, having two teams there and how many times last year we had back-to-back games where it rained during the first game, I can’t imagine what a grass field would look like on that second day.”

MetLife will also have grass installed for this summer’s Copa America, which will feature three games in East Rutherford. The venue will host two group stage matches in late June, including the 2016 final rematch between Argentina and Chile, and a semi-final game in early July. The New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, which governs the land where MetLife sits, in December approved $400,000 for hosting Copa America. An agency spokesperson confirmed to The Athletic that the entire amount will be used to turn the stadium’s field over to grass.

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(Photo: Rob Tringali / SportsChrome / Getty Images)

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