Whitecaps FC excited to test high-tech playing surface at BC Place

'Caps ready for BC Place return on Sunday

Turf has always had its critics, but there’s something very different about the new surface at BC Place.

“It’s like the best quality of turf that you can find now around, so we are curious to see how does it feel and how it is to play on this new field,” Vancouver playmaker Davide Chiumiento said ahead of Whitecaps FC's first game at the newly-refurbished BC Place against Portland Timbers on Sunday (1:30 p.m. PT - TV: TSN 2 and Bell mobile devices; Radio: TEAM 1410; MLS MatchDay Live).

Indeed, the turf - designed by German company Polytan - is the best around, according to FIFA. The artificial surface has been designed to meet the international body’s two-star certification, which would enable BC Place to host major international soccer fixtures.

It’s the same type of field on which European giants Bayern Munich and Liverpool use to train.

On paper, it should be the best artificial playing surface in the league, as it’s the first of its kind in North America to be used in a competitive environment. Most certainly, it will be a step up on the FieldTurf surface at Empire Field.

Not that it was all that bad in the first place.

“You look at the other clubs around the league, and of the turf fields, I think ours was still the best - even at Empire,” 'Caps captain Jay DeMerit said. “It’s exciting. From what I hear, the BC Place turf is even better and a bit softer, so I know my joints will be happy about that.

Aesthetically, the turf will also look more organic, as the Polytan surface uses brown infill, which imitates the color of soil. A seemingly minor detail, but for anyone who has seen black rubber bits fly up off a conventional turf field, it will come as a welcome change.

But it’s not just the new playing surface that’s got goalkeeper Joe Cannon raring to go.

“I’m looking forward [to BC Place] for so many reasons,” the 36-year-old said. “Not only the turf is supposed to be a little softer, but the environment is going to be louder.

“The fans have been very loyal and very strong in their support, and I’m just looking forward to the roof capturing that sound in and making it even more loud,” Cannon continued. “When you go to Seattle, the acoustics capture the sound, and I’m hoping BC Place will do the same.”

Martin MacMahon covers Vancouver Whitecaps FC for MLSsoccer.com