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Dayton Public Schools AD defends Welcome Stadium’s turf following criticisms

Athletic Director Shawna Welch on the field’s condition: “(It) plays younger than it is”.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals-Minicamp Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

It’s safe to say the Bengals won’t be returning to practice in Dayton anytime soon.

After using Welcome Stadium’s field to open training camp, Bengals receivers Tyler Boyd and Josh Malone did not have kind words for the condition of the field’s turf. The fact that A.J. Green got hurt didn’t exactly lighten the situation, even though his injury wasn’t caused by the field’s subpar state.

This was something that Dayton Public Schools Athletic Director Shawna Welch was not going to let slide.

“For its age, it is in really good shape, and we take care of it on a yearly basis,” Welch told the Dayton Daily News. “Do I, as an athletic director, feel that it’s unsafe to put our students out here? Absolutely not.”

To think that those responsible for maintaining the stadium’s turf were grossly negligent in preparing for the Bengals one practice is a little ridiculous. The turf is clearly different from what the team is used to playing on, which explains the “pebbles” Boyd mentioned.

Regarding Boyd’s complaints about rocks and pebbles on the field, Welch said a mixture of rubber and sand pellets across the field hold the surface down, as it is stapled down around the outside.

Welch went on to say that the field goes under regular maintenance twice a month along with a complete maintenance cleaning every year. Unfortunately, that was scheduled for this Wednesday.

The Bengals being up in Dayton in the first place was the NFL’s idea. The first NFL game took place at nearby Triangle Park and the league was going to invest $440,000 in a new turf field for the Bengals to practice on and for additional future use. When that idea was scratched because a survey of the park found likely Native American artifacts and remains, Welcome Stadium became plan B for Cincinnati’s practice.

Fellow receiver Alex Erickson recognized the difference in the turf, but took the high road with his comments.

“It was a little slippery, but it is what it is,” Erickson said. “Nothing you can do about it. The turf didn’t have anything to do with the injury.”

Will this situation get resolved more than it already is? Superintendent of Dayton Schools Elizabeth Lolli has one solution: “(Dayton Schools would be) happy to accept a new turf field if the Bengals or individual Bengals players want to donate one.”