Rural Columbia farm provides sod for St. Louis soccer match

Pictured is Heartland Turf Farms President Tom Keeven Sr. on the area of land near Levee and Taake roads from which bluegrass sod was pulled up and delivered to the Edward Jones Dome this week for Saturday’s soccer match. (Corey Saathoff photo)

Two of the top professional soccer teams in the world will be playing on grass grown in Monroe County when they face off Saturday at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.

In what was described this week as a massive undertaking, workers at Heartland Turf Farms on Levee Road in rural Columbia cut, rolled up, loaded and trucked more than 95,000 square feet of bluegrass sod to event organizers, who pulled up the artificial turf inside the dome and installed the natural surface on Wednesday and Thursday for the match between Real Madrid of Spain and Inter Milan of Italy.

More than 50,000 fans are expected to witness the first soccer match held inside the dome, which is home to the St. Louis Rams professional football team.

Tom Keeven Sr., president of Heartland Turf Farms, said The Motz Group of Ohio contacted his business around three weeks ago and requested the massive order. The specifications called for 1.5-inch thick grass with 1.5 inches of soil underneath, making for heavy truck loads from the rural Monroe County bottoms to downtown St. Louis. In all, more than 600 rolls of local sod weighing around 2,500 pounds each were transported.

“That’s moving quite a lot of weight,” Keeven said, adding that “bluegrass had not been a big seller” for (the farm) lately.

Pictured is Cristiano Ronaldo during a Thursday practice in St. Louis. Ronaldo plays forward for Real Madrid, and is regarded as one of the top soccer players in the world. (John Spytek photo)

Event organizers were complimentary of the turf farm’s sod quality and consistently even, thick cut, Keeven said.

Once the game is over, Heartland Turf Farms will load up the sod and return it to Monroe County.

“I told them I want the topsoil back,” Keeven said. “Us turf farmers are stingy about soil.”

Keeven said the grass should remain in good shape for Saturday’s game despite the lack of natural light.

For the full story, read next week’s Republic-Times newspaper.

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Corey Saathoff

Corey is the editor of the Republic-Times. He has worked at the newspaper since 2004, and currently resides in Columbia. He is also the principal singer-songwriter and plays guitar in St. Louis area country-rock band The Trophy Mules.
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