Michigan State, FIFA will partner to grow turfgrass for 2026 World Cup

Michigan State University
Posted at 1:40 PM, Feb 10, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-10 13:40:54-05

(WXYZ) — Michigan State University will partner with FIFA to make turfgrass for the 2026 World Cup in North America.

The university's board of trustees approved a motion Friday that will allow FIFA to build a turfgrass testing facility on the university's campus. After 2026, the facility will be gifted to the university to continue using for research and student purposes.

Michigan State University was originally established as an agricultural college for the state and has a history with turfgrass research and development for more than 70 years.

In 1994, MSU designed and installed a temporary grass surface in the Pontiac Silverdome for the 1994 World Cup.

According to the university, FIFA will work with both MSU and the University of Tennessee to provide natural grass playing surfaces for both stadiums and practice facilities for the 2026 World Cup. In 2026, the World Cup expands from 32 teams to 48, which will require more playing surfaces.

The universities will research and develop the playing surfaces for the 16 stadiums in the U.S., Mexico and Canada. That turfgrass will then be placed inside domed stadiums and outdoor stadiums and will have to remain playable and safe for up to 60 days after installation.

According to a university document, the turfgrass facility will be on the east side of Farm Lane, near the Hancock Turfgrass Research Center and Forest Akers East Golf Course.

FIFA will develop an indoor testing facility like the buildings already in use by the turfgrass management.

"FIFA will construct and fund the building and all ancillary construction, including specialized lighting. The building will be available for MSU’s use at the conclusion of the FIFA project," the memo reads.

Construction is set to begin in April 2023 and be complete by June 2023.