FirstEnergy stadium field torn up by mysterious driver

CLEVELAND — The field at FirstEnergy Stadium was damaged early Tuesday morning by someone driving around the Browns’ home field.

Tire treads spiral out from the 20-yard line in a golden spiral and span most of the west side of the field. Some of the ruts left behind seemed significant in places.

AirTracker5 this afternoon captured footage of a crew member riding a road roller to level the broken ground.

The team said the damage done to the field was superficial and repairs were being made. Although the team has notified the NFL of the incident, a team spokesman said the Browns are confident it shouldn’t affect the team’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.

The Browns notified the Cleveland Division of Police of the incident.

The Cleveland Police Department said it was investigating the incident as a possible burglary. Police say it appears someone jumped a fence and used a golf cart to cause the damage.

You can read the Browns’ full statement below:

“We are aware of the incident that took place at FirstEnergy Stadium early Tuesday morning and have provided all relevant information to the Cleveland Division of Police. Based on our internal assessment, there has been some superficial damage to the pitch which our turf maintenance team is currently working on repairing. We are very proud of the good ratings and reputation of our stadium’s playing surface, have contacted the NFL about this and are confident that after repairs our field will be ready for Sunday’s game against the Tampa Buccaneers.”

Field and turf maintenance experts contacted by News 5 said the crew at the First Energy Stadium site faced a uniquely challenging repair job, particularly given the tight time schedule. Anthony Pagano, whose family owned and operated Sterner’s Sod on Brookpark Road near the Cleveland-Brook Park border, said the ground crew will most likely need to fill in the deep ruts with a thick, heavy-loam topsoil. The ground will fill in the gaps and crews will tamping down to prevent players from sinking.

Pagano is also a Browns season ticket holder, so Tuesday morning’s act of vandalism is an affront to his beloved soccer team and love of lush, green grass.

“[Browns fans] We had our challenges this year, we didn’t need them. We didn’t need that,” said Pagano. “It made me quite sad, especially because we will be there on Sunday. This is my sanctuary.”

Because lawns take at least two weeks to root in the ground, a simple patch fix isn’t an option, Pagano said.

“Sods have a rooting period where the roots need to be attached to the ground in order for them to actually stay attached to the ground. If you don’t time this properly, you can go ahead and take this piece right off the floor. It will not stick. It will be a security issue for players.

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