Reacting to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s status report on its study of the possible health and environmental effects of crumb rubber athletic turf, two major organizations representing the synthetic turf industry urged the agency to complete its research as soon as possible in the new year.
“We cannot overstate the pressing need for the agency to share clear and concise findings as soon as possible in 2017 in order to provide answers and eliminate uncertainty for parents and policymakers,” the Safe Fields Alliance and the Synthetic Turf Council said in a joint statement.
On Dec. 30, the EPA issued its status report, 10 months after it agreed to collaborate with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry and the Consumer Product Safety Commission on a Federal Research Action Plan on synthetic turf.
“The purpose of the FRAP is to study key questions concerning the potential for human exposure resulting from the use of tire crumb rubber in playing fields and playgrounds,” the EPA said in the executive summary of its status report.
“This kind of information is important for any follow-up evaluation of risk that might be performed.”
The EPA said the work already performed under the FRAP includes:
- Stakeholder outreach;
- A review of tire and tire crumb rubber manufacturing processes;
- A final peer-reviewed analysis of the literature on crumb rubber turf and gaps in knowledge;
- Tire crumb rubber characterization and exposure characterization; and
- A review of the use of recycled rubber tires on playgrounds.
In 2017, ongoing research under the FRAP will include analysis of tire crumb samples collected from fields and recycling facilities, as well as the exposure characterization component of the study, the EPA said. Parts of the exposure study may be conducted during the hotter months of 2017, it said.
Results of synthetic turf fields’ research will be available later in 2017, the agency said.
The Safe Fields Alliance and the Synthetic Turf Council said they feel assured that the results of the study will show no connection between crumb rubber and disease.
“Based on the more than 90 scientific studies that have already looked into the safety of synthetic turf fields and other surfaces with recycled rubber infill, we believe the answers are already out there,” they said.
The organizations noted a December 2016 statement from the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment that playing sports on crumb rubber synthetic turf is safe. The institute had sampled more than 100 synthetic turf fields in reaching this conclusion, they said.
“While we agree that the EPA should not sacrifice thoroughness for expediency, after nearly a year of study, the cloud of uncertainty is hurting businesses as well as jobs,” they said. “The science is evident, and it is time for the EPA and other regulatory agencies to bring clarity to the situation.”- By MILES MOORE
As the era of injury prevention in sports reaches new heights, an Idaho State University professor is at the forefront of injury research.
Instead of focusing on the athletes, equipment or the way athletes get hit, Michael Meyers, 60, is studying the surfaces they play on.
In 2000, at a high school football stadium in Abilene, Texas, Meyers saw one of the first-ever FieldTurf fields to be used by players at the high school level.
A researcher at that time, Meyers’ curiosity about the new style of artificial turf began to grow, especially after what he believes were a series of failed experiments in the 1970s with synthetic grass, which in many cases was just carpet laid out on concrete.
Tarkett Inc., the company that manufactures FieldTurf, built the brand around the slogan “looks like grass, feels like grass, plays like grass,” Meyers said. “I said, ‘that’s a pretty large brag right there. I want to find out if it’s true.’”
In 2004, Meyers, an associate professor of sports science and physical education, published a multi-year study comparing the occurrence of sports injuries on natural grass versus FieldTurf. His research, which focused on eight high schools that used either FieldTurf or natural grass, concluded that there fewer injuries on FieldTurf compared to natural grass, and that the injuries on the synthetic surface were typically less severe.
Two years later, FieldTurf officials reached out to Meyers and asked if he’d be interested in researching more of the company’s products.
Three decades of research
Meyers has been researching sports-related injuries for nearly 30 years. Throughout his career, he has studied a variety of sports and physical activities, from rodeo to dance to bungee jumping. But for the last 16 years, his focus has been on studying injuries that occur on grass compared to artificial surfaces in high school and collegiate sports.
“Two things professional organizations take into account is that as the violence of a sport gets worse, you have greater trauma,” Meyers said. “You’re not going to get as much trauma as you would in college football or high school football, but men’s soccer will have more injuries than women’s soccer. So the big issue wasn’t the number of injuries, it was what surface do you find them on.”
His latest study, “Incidence, Mechanisms, and Severity of Match-Related Collegiate Men’s Soccer Injuries on FieldTurf and Natural Grass Surfaces: A 6-Year Prospective Study,” was published in the Nov. 21 issue of The American Journal of Sports Medicine.
“Basically, what we found out with this study is that the artificial grass, specifically FieldTurf, is superior to natural grass in so many ways,” he said.
Meyers studied male soccer athletes from 11 NCAA Division I schools over six seasons. He evaluated 765 games for match-related injuries played on both surfaces.
The study nearly evenly split the number of games played on both surfaces. Overall, Meyers documented 722 injuries, with 268, or 37.1 percent occurring on FieldTurf, and 454, or 62.9 percent occurring on natural grass.
Meyers’ analysis also showed significantly less trauma for injuries that occurred on FieldTurf. Factors in the comparison included severity of injury, type of injury, time loss, player position, injury mechanism and situation, various environmental conditions, cleat design, turf age and elective medical procedures, among others.
A change in trends
One day, Meyers sees a future where natural grass is a thing of the past.
“Everyone is traditionally prone to natural grass when it comes to soccer, but as our new generations come up, they’re not going to remember what a grass field looks like because programs are moving toward artificial turf, whether we like it or not,” Meyers said.
He also believes some types of turf will be more effective than others.
In a separate study, Meyers looked at how the weight of turf surfaces influence athletic injuries. As the weight of turf increases, Meyers said the firmness of the surface and stability also increases. As weight increases, the density and thickness of the turf also increases, according to Meyers.
The study, published in 2013, looked at 52 high schools over four years and showed that as artificial infill surface weight decreased, the incidence of game-related high school football trauma significantly increased across numerous playing conditions.
If the weight of the turf surface is less than 6 pounds per square foot, Meyers said injuries can increase by more than 30 percent. This is because the consistency of infill is greater and provides more support to the athletes’ feet.
“That being said, the majority of fields, especially at the high school level, are 3 to 5 pounds,” Meyers said. “Why? Because there’s less infill, so they’re cheap.”
There are more than 30 companies competing in the synthetic turf market these days, according to Meyers. Because the FieldTurf brand has a majority of the market share, Meyers focused on it specifically for the study. He said the company also invented the infield turf systems most use today.
Meyers has also reached out to several other companies offering to research their product, but those companies have declined the offer.
Because he’s a teacher, Idaho State University supports about 60 percent of Meyers’ research and FieldTurf accounts for the other 40 percent. He maintains all of the data is his, and the company doesn’t receive any of it until his study is published.
Though some may claim his research holds bias, Meyers said his results are just a testament to the increase in safety technology, despite natural grass having a few advantages.
“If you can imagine, at the beginning of every season natural grass is brand new. Whereas the artificial turf sits out there, year after year, with UV rays and it gets pounded on,” he said. “In spite of that, and this study being at the NCAA level where they take very good care of their fields, we still saw significantly lower instances of injuries on the field turf than we did with natural grass.”
For the fifth time in 20 years, the Tampa Bay Rays will be installing a new playing surface at Tropicana Field that will replace the AstroTurf that was installed in 2011. This new turf is supposed provide a firmer and truer surface and easier on the players.
The new system comes from Shaw Sports Turf one of the leading synthetic turf companies in North America providing quality and innovation. The Rays will be Shaw’s first Major League Team to use their product, which they will be paying for at a cost around $1-million, per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.
The main difference between Shaw’s turf and that of the current Astro Turf is that there will be a hard foam pad installed between the concrete base and the new turf. The under filling of the Astro Turf was comprised of fiber blades with a rubber in-fill system and did not always provide a true bounce, especially in the infield.
According to team president Brian Auld, the new surface will be better for the players’ bodies and play a little truer.
There will be no changes to the all-dirt infield or the dirt paths around the outfield, and will be a bit darker in color. Auld also said that it would feature a shallower fill that should keep the blades standing up, and create less splash when a ball hits the surface. In the past, when a hard hit ball hit the surface, you could see little pellets splash, looking as though the ball went through a puddle of water.
When Tropicana Field opened the doors for baseball in 1998, the “Devil-Rays” played on flat Astro Turf, no padding nothing at all underneath. In 2000, they switched to a more grass looking surface called FieldTurf, which they replaced and stayed with in 2007. In 2011, as part of a sponsorship deal through Major League Baseball, the Rays installed Astro Turf.
“We continue to invest in Tropicana Field,” Auld said. “It’s our home and we want to make it the best venue we can for Major League Baseball.”
It’s not as if Cedar Point was hurting for visitors.
In November, Cedar Fair — the Sandusky company that owns and operates 11 theme parks and four waterparks in the U.S. and Canada — reported that attendance jumped 2% and out-of-park revenues spiked 6% in the first three quarters of 2016. An annual report by Themed Entertainment Association said Cedar Point’s 2015 attendance increased 8%, to 3.51 million visitors, edging Kings Island as the top amusement park in Ohio.
But Cedar Fair officials believe a massive, $23.5 million project that officially opens for business next month ensures that its flagship property has all of its bases covered.
“Today, kids are overprogrammed. They have so many things to do,” said Jason McClure, Cedar Point’s vice president and general manager. “One of the biggest summertime commitments is sports. We just heard from our guests, ‘We’re spending time and money on tournaments. We don’t have time to make it to Cedar Point.’ ”
That sparked Cedar Point’s $3.5 million purchase of the former Griffing Sandusky Airport site, and led to a partnership with The Sports Force, a Canton, Ga.-based company that designs, builds, operates and maintains sports facilities.
The public-private partnership was boosted by $17 million in Erie County bed taxes, which helped to produce Sports Force Parks at Cedar Point Sports Center — a 57-acre home of future baseball, softball, soccer and lacrosse tournaments that will double as a playground and Cedar Point recruiting spot.
The complex opens with a two-day St. Patrick’s Day baseball tournament on March 18, and 29 more youth events are already posted on an online tournament schedule that runs through the end of August.
Will Spence, the regional manager of Sports Force Parks, expects the complex to host 39 tournaments in its first year. The majority will be two- or three-day weekend events, but some will last five or six days, depending on the sport and the number of participating teams.
“It will be the premier park in the Midwest,” Spence said. “It’s like nothing else. Traditionally, when you see a lot of these fields, they’re either diamonds or rectangle baseball fields or softball fields. We’ve gone to multi-use fields. Each is uniquely based on the sport.”
The park has 12 synthetic turf baseball fields, 11 softball fields, and eight full-size fields for soccer and lacrosse. The complex also features an 18-hole miniature golf course, a promenade with concessions and merchandise, a ropes course that soars 25 feet in the air, a trampoline park and two playgrounds.
Spence said the targeted age group is 8 to 18, but there are enough distractions for toddlers and adults, too.
“Our focus is to get people to the area and take advantage of the area,” he said.
Spreading the wealth
Shortly after Eric Wobser left his job as executive director of Ohio City Inc. to take over as Sandusky’s city manager in 2014, McClure, Cedar Point’s GM, wrote him a letter concerning a proposed admissions tax increase. In it, McClure said taxes paid by the amusement park represented more than a one-third of the city’s annual tax receipts, and Cedar Point was responsible for more than 98% of Sandusky’s admission taxes. Nearly three years later, Wobser said those figures are still “pretty accurate.”
That’s one of the reasons he sees the development of Sports Force Parks as critical, since the complex will attract thousands more visitors to the area (a projected 111,000 annually), and it will do so during the “shoulder seasons” — the spring and fall months when Cedar Point isn’t as busy, or is closed.
“I think it’s incredibly exciting because we pride ourselves on being a destination, but we want to be a destination that people come to for a number of reasons,” said Wobser, a Sandusky native. “We know Cedar Point is a major driver. Waterparks and the islands are a major driver. This is going to help us get more people to the area in a positive way.”
And, Wobser hopes, more businesses.
The groups estimate that Sports Force Parks will generate 80,000 annual hotel stays by 2020, which represents about 10% of Erie County’s current annual total, plus $56.9 million in annual spending and $1.7 million in admissions and bed taxes.
“As we look to diversify our economy, that’s an effect we’re looking for,” Wobser said. “We want to be a destination, which helps us attract more restaurants and businesses to the area. Maybe someone will want to bring a technology company here because somebody boats here or wants to spend more time here.”
Dollars and sense
There’s also a ropes course on which participants can soar 25 feet in the air.
The public-private partnership is a simple one, McClure said.
“On the business side of the deal, it’s all about selling tickets,” the Cedar Point GM said. “We own the land. Sports Force operates the facility.”
Each tournament participant gets a free ticket to the amusement park and waterpark. That, of course, leads to family members purchasing passes, and adds to Cedar Fair’s already-robust bottom line.
Spence, the Sports Force Parks regional manager, said Cedar Point is also the complex’s food and beverage vendor.
It isn’t a novel concept.
The ESPN Wide World of Sports complex outside Orlando, Fla., has been open for 20 years. Cedar Fair’s top executive, CEO Matt Ouimet, spent 17 years as a Disney executive.
“We’ve seen that success,” McClure said of the Wide World of Sports facility. “We’ve seen those complexes that opened around the country. The land was available, and we saw the chance to make this happen.”
If the Sandusky complex is as successful as the projections, the groups probably won’t be finished. Wobser said there’s a study being undertaken that is looking at the possibility of an indoor complex that would sit next door to Sports Force Parks. Cedar Point’s Express Hotel is adding rooms for the 2017 season, and a tower of rooms at Hotel Breakers is scheduled to open in 2018.
“That was one of the foundations of the whole project — keep people engaged in the community longer,” Spence said.- By KEVIN KLEPS
Roger Dean Stadium installing metal detectors
All spring training fans will be greeted by metal detectors at Roger Dean Stadium when spring training games start Feb. 25.
“We want to make sure no guns or knives or long poles get through,” said Mike Bauer, general manager of the 7,000-seat stadium in Abacoa. “This is a directive from Major League Baseball to all spring training facilities in the Cactus and Grapefruit leagues. We want a safer environment.”
Fans should arrive about 15 minutes earlier than usual to make sure they get into the park on time, Bauer said.
Bags held by fans were searched in previous years at entry gates at the stadium, spring training home of the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals.
All fans this year will be asked to remove cellphones and other items from their pockets and place them in a container on a conveyor belt that will pass through the metal detector.
Team personnel will use metal-detecting wands on fans who set off alarms when they walk in, Bauer said.
It’s the same system used at the Palm Beach County Courthouse and other professional sports facilities, Bauer said.
Stadium officials paid about $50,000 for the 10 machines, he said.
“Most people are used to the drill. Fans should come a little bit early to get through the lines,” Bauer said.
The directive from Major League Baseball was a result of the June 2016 shootings in Orlando and other incidents. The new Ballpark of the Palm Beaches will use hand-held devices on selected guests.
The detectors are not a response to weapons being brought into Roger Dean Stadium, Bauer said.
“We haven’t had any issues here at Roger Dean Stadium. But we are in a different world today,” he said.- by Bill DiPaolo, Palm Beach Post (Florida)
Buffalo Bisons setting up metal detectors this season
Anyone catching a Buffalo Bisons baseball game or other event at Coca-Cola Field this year will have to walk through a metal detector to enter the ballpark.
Metal detectors will be set up at each entrance, including all fan gates, as well as the entrance to Pettibones Grille and the center field pavilion, the Bisons announced Monday.
The new security measures, which take effect Opening Day on April 6, also include a no re-entry policy once a fan has entered the stadium. The new policy includes anybody who wishes to leave the park to smoke.
“We are extremely proud of our long-standing reputation of providing our fans with a safe and comfortable ballpark experience each and every time they come to Coca-Cola Field,” said Mike Buczkowski, vice president and general manger of the Bisons, in a news release. “We are taking these steps to further ensure our guests can fully enjoy the fun and exciting atmosphere of Bisons baseball in 2017 and for many years to come.”
No specific incident prompted the Bisons to add metal detectors this season, said Brad Bisbing, public relations director. He said the change followed an annual review of operations at the ballpark.
The Bisons will become the first team in the International League and among the first in all of Minor League Baseball to introduce walk-through metal detectors at their park, said Randy A. Mobley, league president.
Mobley said the league has ongoing discussions about security but there is no leaguewide initiative regarding metal detectors specifically. He noted the detectors are “not an insiginficant investment” being undertaken by team ownership.
Most gates at Coca-Cola Field will continue to open an hour before first pitch during the coming season, though that time is subject to change.
Fans will only have to take their phones and cameras out of their pockets before passing through the detectors. Some fans may be subject to being wanded by security personnel. Fans will still be able to bring in one plastic water bottle (20 oz., factory sealed), as well as a single portion, clear plastic sandwich bag per person and a small juice box per child.-by Aaron Besecker, The Buffalo News (New York)
Voters in the Sag Harbor (NY) school district approved a $1.45 million bond referendum Wednesday for a natural grass athletic field and other work, reversing course on a controversial proposal to use synthetic turf.
The 458-73 vote was the district’s third on the issue in four years.
Voters first approved a $1.62 million bond for a synthetic turf field at Pierson Middle/High School in a fall 2013 referendum, only to reject it three years later. Voters in December 2016 were asked to approve spending $365,000 more to pay for added costs after the lowest bid for the project was $500,000 more than what officials had budgeted.
“We have a very active and supportive community for which all of us within the Sag Harbor Schools are grateful,” Superintendent Katy Graves said in a statement. “On behalf of the Board of Education and administration, we want to thank them for their approval of the proposition.”
Work on the natural grass field could begin this summer, according to a statement released by the district. The bond also covers construction of a new practice field at Sag Harbor Elementary School that is expected to begin in summer 2018.
In recent years, opposition to the synthetic turf has grown in communities across Long Island. Residents have cited concerns about the health and safety of the material. Had the December vote been approved, it would have used funds from the district’s Capital Reserve Fund, leaving it with a $1.77 million balance.
District officials had proposed using a type of crumb rubber in the synthetic turf.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “Concerns have been raised by the public about the safety of recycled rubber tire crumb used in synthetic turf fields and playgrounds in the United States . . . Limited studies have not shown an elevated health risk from playing on fields with tire crumb, but the existing studies do not comprehensively evaluate the concerns about health risks from exposure to tire crumb.”
The district’s voters rejected the additional spending in December, 1,016-135. Voters had approved the fall 2013 bond referendum for the synthetic turf field, 585-507.
Susan Lamontagne, a school board trustee since July 2016 who ran in opposition to synthetic turf, said earlier in the week that she had hoped a reversal on the issue would serve “as a model on Long Island and New York State for how to develop really nice, healthy, top-notch athletic fields.”- by Scott Eidler, Newsday, Inc.
The Washington Nationals have added a twist to the end of their exhibition season.
On April 1, they will play the Boston Red Sox at the Naval Academy. In the past, Washington had finished spring training with weekend games at Nationals Park following the team’s return from Florida. This season, they will play on Friday, March 31, against the Red Sox in Nationals Park, then play Saturday in Annapolis as part of a 3-year agreement to put on exhibition games there.
Tickets for the game at the Naval Academy are not available to the public. The Nationals and Red Sox will distribute complimentary tickets to Naval Academy midshipmen, as well as select members of the US Navy. The game will be televised on ESPN at 2 pm.
“It will be an honor for our players and coaches to take part in these games at the Naval Academy, in front of the brave men and women who have committed to serve our country,” Nationals owner Mark Lerner said.
The game will be played at Terwilliger Brothers Field at Max Bishop Stadium, where the Naval Academy baseball team plays. The setting is intimate and suggestive that offense will carry the day. Capacity at the stadium named for the longtime Navy coach — Bishop ran the team from 1937-61 — is just 1,500. Nationals Park holds 41,546. Even the Nationals’ new spring training stadium, The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, has 6,400 fixed seats.
The depth of the outfield fences at Max Bishop Stadium, from left to right are 322 feet, 382, 397, 372 and 304. At Nationals Park those dimensions are 336, 377, 402, 370 and 335.
The Nationals’ opponent for the games in 2018 and 2019 at the Naval Academy will be determined at a future date.
Playing at Max Bishop Stadium will be the second new field Washington will play on during spring training this year. Pitcher and catchers report Feb. 14 to the Nationals’ new spring training facility in West Palm Beach, Florida. After leaving its complex in Viera, Fla., Washington will share the new facility with the Houston Astros. The location allows the Nationals to have much shorter road trips around Florida when playing Grapefruit League games. Several trips in the past were bus rides that took more than an hour.
The first pitchers and catchers workout is Feb. 16. The entire squad is expected in West Palm Beach by Feb. 17. Washington opens spring training in Port St. Lucie, Fla., against the rival New York Mets on Feb. 25. It concludes spring training in Florida on March 30. The season opener is April 3 at 1 p.m. versus the Miami Marlins in Nationals Park.- The Washington Times
The company hired to liquidate the contents of the soon-to-be-demolished Georgia Dome once auctioned off a urinal from the St. Louis Cardinals’ clubhouse to a baseball fan for about $2,500.
“So don’t be surprised,” Schneider Industries chief operating officer Dan Rosenthal said with a laugh, if the company tries to sell a Dome urinal or two to Falcons fans.
The St. Louis-based company has been hired to sell various pieces of the Dome that aren’t slated for reuse in the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium or elsewhere on the Georgia World Congress Center campus: seats, lockers, signs, pieces of artificial turf, furniture from the suites, you name it.
Schneider Industries, an asset liquidation company, has a history of selling contents of abandoned stadiums.
Its previous sports projects, Rosenthal said, include Busch Memorial Stadium in St. Louis, Texas Stadium outside Dallas, Tiger Stadium in Detroit and Candlestick Park in San Francisco.
The final event in the 25-year-old Georgia Dome is a Monster Jam trucks show March 5. Salvage operations are scheduled to begin immediately after that, with interior demolition to begin in May and implosion to occur in the summer — likely before the first scheduled event next door in Mercedes-Benz stadium, an Atlanta United soccer match on July 30.
The first step in Schneider Industries’ work at the Dome is the sale of the stadium’s red and black seats, which already are available for online orders at www.georgiadomesale.com. The seats cost $599 for a connected set of two, including stand-upbrackets, shippingto the customer by April 15 and a certificate of authenticity.
Rosenthal pitches the seats as an opportunity for fans “to keep Dome memories alive,” perhaps in a home theater or a memorabilia collection.
Falcons season-ticket holders can order their exact seats.
Rosenthal had no prediction of how many seats fans will purchase, acknowledging the cost means “not everybody can afford to buy a pair of seats.” Aside from sales to fans as keepsakes, he expects seats also to be sold in bulk to high schools and colleges.
“Our goal here,” he said, “is to sell a lot of seats and keep them out of the landfills.
“I got a message today from a school looking to get 500. They’re not going to be used as memorabilia, such as the pairs we’re selling to the general public, but just as seats in a stadium.”
The seat sales start a four-prong program Schneider Industries has for the Dome.
The second prong is “selling what we call salvage equipment used on the industrial side of things — the boilers, the chillers, the restaurant equipment, the furniture from the suites and lounge areas,” Rosenthal said. Such items likely will be sold to companies by sealed bids, he said.
The third prong, he said, will be an online auction of “high-endmemorabilia,”such as lockers used by Falcons players or a large piece of turf “that a fan might want to put into his man cave so next year he’s sitting on turf that the Falcons won the NFC championship on.” A date for the auction hasn’t been set, but “we’re hoping early April.”
And finally, Rosenthal said plans are being made for a “fanfest”-style garage sale outside the Dome, probably in late April, to sell smaller pieces of memorabilia, such as pictures, signs and miscellaneous locker-room items.
Schneider Industries’ business extends beyond sports.
“Stadiums don’t close that often, so I couldn’t make a living just selling stadiums,” Rosenthal said. “Our day-to-day business is … we help companies sell their surplus equipment. If Anheuser-Busch is getting new equipment, we help them sell the old equipment.”
At the Georgia Dome, he said workers will begin extracting seats and other items immediately after the final event there March 5.
“We’ll throw a few hundred men in there and get stuff out of there and into a warehouse and packaged up,” he said.
The cost of demolishing the Dome is included in Mercedes-Benz Stadium’s $1.5 billion construction budget. Net proceeds from items salvaged from the Dome will go toward the cost of the new stadium.- by Tim Tucker, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
No matter the segment of the turf industry you represent, fungicides will likely be part of your management program this year. I taught a seminar about fungicide selection and scheduling at the Nebraska Turf Conference recently, where I presented a simple, five-step method for deciding when to make fungicide applications. The seminar was apparently well received, so I decided to briefly summarize for those that weren’t able to attend, and especially for those who perhaps don’t have experience creating a fungicide program. While this is a very brief summary of my seminar, I feel that it will be useful for the less experienced. If you’re a skilled fungicide planner, proceed with patience.-Cole Thompson, Assistant Professor, Integrated Turfgrass Management Specialist, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Read it all here
Equipment is getting more and more technically advanced all the time. And while new machines continue to make tasks easier for operators, finding technicians with the skills to service them has become a challenge.
Like the automotive industry, the turf equipment industry is facing a technician shortage. Many longtime technicians are retiring, and good technical school programs for new technicians are hard to find. As a result, there are fewer qualified candidates to fill these jobs.
The market has become extremely competitive, especially when it comes to hiring technicians with the knowhow to fix models with the latest features like electronic engine controls, onboard computers, diagnostic software and GPS systems. That’s why many Toro distributors are offering alternative solutions. Here are a few of the options available from distributors and Toro:
On-Site Distributor Training Distributors like Turf Equipment and Supply Company in Jessup, MD, offer training classes on a range of general topics during the winter season. Their program, called Turf Equipment University, offers classes in several different locations throughout the area to minimize travel time for participants. They also have mobile trainers who go out to customer locations and train technicians on everything from sharpening reels to calibrating sprayers.
Service Contracts Service contracts are another solution many Toro distributors offer. Depending on the agreement, these contracts may provide all preventive maintenance on a machine (including labor, transportation, parts and fluids) for a single annual fee. Distributor technicians may even come to the customer’s location to do the service.
Rent a Technician Even if you don’t purchase a full service contract, you can lean on your distributor for service when you need it. Many distributors offer “rent-a-tech” services where mobile technicians come to you, rather than having to transport your machine to the shop.
Distributors are a good option to fill your service gaps, since their own technicians need to stay up to date on the latest models and techniques. Turf Equipment and Supply Company does monthly in-house training sessions where technicians train each other to ensure consistency. They also send team members to Toro U, a training session at The Toro Company headquarters.
Support Via Smartphone When you call your local Toro distributor for support, there’s a new resource they may use to diagnose and solve equipment issues. Toro distributor technicians now have the ability to use video collaboration tools such as Skype, FaceTime and OnSight to work directly with Toro’s Technical Assistance Center (TAC) team. For distributors with Skype/FaceTime capabilities, this is one more tool to help with advanced service and repair.
Online Manuals Free service manuals are always available online to help your technicians with basic questions and services. Manuals for current production models are available here, along with links to other resources.
Equipment Selection Although equipment is getting more advanced, it’s worth taking a close look at the maintenance requirements of any machines you are considering for purchase. Are common service components easy to access? Are there any features that simplify or streamline service?
It’s a spring training ritual for baseball fans in Florida and Arizona — watching the first workouts by pitchers and catchers at the start of the long baseball season.
That won’t happen at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches this week when the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals start reporting to their first spring training season in West Palm Beach.
The first day the general public will be allowed in the $150 million complex is Saturday, the same day the Astros hold their first full-squad workouts with pitchers, catchers and position players.
The Nationals hold their first full-squad workouts Feb. 19.
But because the complex is still an active construction site, fans will not be able to hang out by the clubhouses for autographs when players report for the first time. And they cannot watch the first workouts by pitchers and catchers.
Astros pitchers and catchers report Tuesday and hold their first workouts Wednesday. Nationals pitchers and catchers report Tuesday and hold their first workouts Thursday. Position players for both teams report Friday.
“It’s a brand-new facility. We want to make sure everything is secure. I think (fans) will understand,” said Gene Dias, the Astros’ vice president for media relations.
“We decided Feb. 18 would be a safe date. That makes sense for us because it’s the first full-squad workout and in the past that’s the day when we get a lot of fans to come out because they want to see all the players working out together for the first time.”
The 160-acre facility, built over an old landfill south of 45th Street and west of Interstate 95, is just about done.
While both teams hold practice sessions during the first two weeks of camp, work will continue in the main stadium until the first game Feb. 28 when the Nationals host the Astros.
Admission and parking for the workouts are free. So far, one parking area has been identified for fans — at the northwest corner of the complex with access off Haverhill Road.
The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, which first announced the public access date this past month, will release more details about the workouts this week.
The Astros’ six practice fields are on the northeast and east side of the complex. The Nationals’ fields are on the southeast and south corner of the complex. Four practice fields abut Military Trail, bordered by protective netting to prevent baseballs from hitting traffic on the road.
The complex’s main entrance is off Haverhill Road.
Of all 12 practice fields, two have the same configurations as Nationals Park in Washington and Minute Maid Park in Houston.- by Joe Capozzi, Palm Beach Post (Florida)
Winners of the 2016 Midwest Regional Turf Foundation (MRTF) Green Awards were announced just last month at the Indiana Green Expo in Indianapolis during the educational sessions and the MRTF Distinguished Service Award Reception.
The purpose of the annual MRTF Green Awards is to recognize MRTF member facilities that show outstanding environmental stewardship, who implement the highest standard of management practices and who continue to improve the quality of the Turf Industry. The Green Awards Committee was privileged to get an in depth look at several excellent MRTF member facilities. Several of these were quite impressive, with winners in the following industry categories:
Athletic Field division – Public City of Fishers, IN – Mike Weir, Facilities Superintendent and team leaders: Ben Chesney, Shawn Martz, Jason Stevens, Juan Puente, and Don Szemko
Athletic Field division – Private Bishop Chathard High School Softball, Indianapolis, IN – Thomas Mahaney – Grounds Manager
The winning submissions can be found on our website, www.mrtf.org
The submission webpage for this year’s Green Awards will be open soon to accept applicants in the golf, lawn care/landscape, and athletic field divisions. You can self-nominate, or nominate a peer facility that you feel deserves such recognition. It could be your facility that is being honored next year at this time.
The Midwest Regional Turf Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)3 foundation. The mission of the MRTF is to support turf research and education at Purdue University for the advancement of the turfgrass industry.
STMA’s top honors, the 2016 Founders Awards, were presented at the STMA Annual Awards Banquet January 27 in Orlando. These awards are given in a ‘surprise’ presentation to those who exemplify the leadership traits of each founder. The four founders are Dick Ericson, George Toma, Dr. William H. Daniel (deceased) and Harry C. Gill (deceased). See winners’ photos here
At the 2017 Annual Meeting, the STMA Board of Directors officially took office. STMA’s new President is Tim VanLoo, CSFM and Manager of Athletics Turf/Grounds for Iowa State University in Ames.
Other STMA officers elected to the Board include:
- President-Elect – Sarah Martin, CSFM, City of Phoenix (Phoenix, Ariz.)
- Immediate Past President – Jeff Salmond, CSFM, Director of Athletic Field Management, University of Oklahoma (Norman, Okla.)
- Secretary / Treasurer – Jody Gill, CSFM, Grounds Coordinator, Blue Valley School District (Overland Park, Kan.)
- Vice President Commercial – Doug Schattinger, President, Pioneer Athletics (Cleveland, Ohio)
- Professional Facilities Director – Weston Appelfeller, CSFM, Director of Grounds, Columbus Crew (Columbus, Ohio)
Directors fulfilling second-year terms are:
- Academic Director – Elizabeth Guertal, Ph.D., Auburn University (Auburn, Ala.)
- Higher Education Director – Nick McKenna, CSFM, Baseball Field Manager, Texas A&M (College Station, Texas)
Members elected to Director positions include:
- Schools K-12 Director – Sun Roesslein, CSFM, Manager, North Area Athletic Complex (Arvada, Colo.)
- Commercial Director – Boyd Montgomery, CSFM, Certified Sales Executive, Regional Business Manager, The Toro Company (Minneapolis, Minn.)
- Elected-at-Large Director – Matt Anderson, CSFM, Grounds Superintendent, University of Arizona (Tucson, Ariz.)
Members appointed to the Board include:
- Randy Price, Tri-Tex Grass (Granbury, Texas)
- Jimmy Simpson, CSFM, Town of Cary (Cary, N.C.)
To read about the Board Members’ vision for the STMA, click here.
STMA recently hosted its 28th annual Conference & Exhibition in Orlando with more than 175 exhibitors and a record 1,300 attendees from 18 countries.
The 4-day event was highlighted by the “Seminar on Wheels Tours” at various professional, collegiate and youth sports complexes in the Orlando region. In addition, attendees took part in more than 60 educational sessions, visited sports turf exhibits, networked with academics and participated in association business.
SAFE, the association’s charitable foundation, raised more than $45,000 during the Conference through its golf tournament, “Night of Bowling” and silent and live auctions throughout the week. SAFE recognizes scholarship and grant winners during the annual awards banquet.
A highlight was a presentation of the Terry Mellor Continuing Education Grant, which was presented to Nicholas Lievense, Purdue University, by Terry’s brother, David Mellor, Boston Red Sox. Terry passed away as a young man. SAFE has awarded the grant since 2009. Proceeds from SAFE’s fundraising benefit educational programs, scholarships and grants with the goal of enriching communities through safe, sustainable sports and recreation fields for all athletes.
Laura Katen, President of Katen Consulting, provided a keynote address on Jan. 26 to the STMA membership. She discussed the topic of professionalism, and how communication at an individual and organizational level influences how you are perceived by your peers, employer and community.
Next year’s event will be held in Fort Worth, TX Jan. 16-19, 2018. Additional future sites include Phoenix (2019) and West Palm Beach, FL (2020).
Congratulations to all STMA Student Challenge participants for their exceptional performance on the 2017 exam! The Student Challenge is presented by SAFE, Founding Partner Hunter Industries, and supporting sponsor Ewing. Nine 2-year teams and 26 4-year teams competed for $5,000 awards in each division. Winning the 2-year competition was Mt. San Antonio College – Team 207. Penn State University – Team 208 took second place, and Mt. San Antonio College – Team 201 took third place. Winning the 4-year competition was Penn State University – Team 422. Iowa State University – Team 416 took second place and Virginia Tech – Team 409 took third place. See the full results of the STMA Student Challenge.
Last month, the National Federation of High School Associations released the results of a study conducted by researchers from the University of Wisconsin measuring injury rates for student-athletes in conjunction with sport specialization.
The study found that athletes specializing in one sport—and especially those who train for that sport year-round—are 70 percent more likely to sustain a lower extremity injury, as they are putting undue stress on a concentrated group of muscles, bones and ligaments.
Muscle and ligament sprains were found to be the most common lower-extremity injury among student-athletes, most commonly reported in the ankle or knee. Sprains accounted for 59.4 percent of injuries reported in the study.
Researchers looked at the “rate of specialization” among 1,544 athletes, measuring how much time was taken away from friends, family and participation in other activities in order to concentrate on one primary sport.
They found that 41 percent of female student-athletes reported specializing, while 28 percent of male student-athletes reported the same. Among soccer players, which the study found to be the most common primary sport, 50 percent of both male and female athletes reported specializing.
Tim McGuire, a sports medicine researcher at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health says that year-round training can also raise the risk of injury, if only because of increased exposure to high-risk situations.
William Roberts, professor of family medicine at the University of Minnesota, agreed with McGuire, telling The Washington Post, “The more you play at any given activity, the more likely you are to get hurt, just out of exposure. If you play club and high school sports, you play 10 to 12 months of the year; that might be an exposure issue. For kids who play club and high school at the same time, it might be a fatigue issue.”
Roberts and McGuire’s best advice to young athletes is to play multiple sports, but to train for them one-at-a-time.
Despite high-profile concussions such as the one that ended Luke Kuechly’s season, the NFL said overall cases dropped to 244 from 275 in 2015.
Injuries in the NFL decreased this season, including concussions.
Emphasizing that players are doing more self-reporting of head injuries, the league released data Thursday that show overall concussions for the preseason and regular season were down from 275 in 2015 to 244 in 2016. That includes a drop of 16 in regular-season games to 167.
The 275 diagnosed concussions in 2015 were a high over the past five years and were an increase of 69 over the previous season. But the NFL enhanced its detection and examination protocols in that span.
“What we have to account for, too, are the additional protocols involved and the people involved in recognizing the injuries,” NFL executive Jeff Miller said. “We have seen a significant culture change on those points.”
Dr. Robert Heyer, president of the NFL Physicians Society and team internist for the Panthers, cited the players’ willingness to report injuries as making a major difference in the numbers.
“I have been a team physician 22 years, and in the past three years I think we’ve seen a cultural change regarding concussions,” Heyer said. “As result of ongoing education, players are more likely to speak up if they believe they might have a concussion. I know what we are doing is making a difference, but we must continue to do more.”
A rule change regarding player safety of moving the ball to the 25-yard line on touchbacks had little effect on diminishing concussions, with a drop from 20 to 17. That information will be presented to the league’s competition committee for evaluation, Miller said.
The statistics also showed decreases in knee injuries from 2015-2016. Also of note was no conclusive evidence of more injuries on Thursday night games. The injury rate was less than from games played Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
The manufacturer of the new turf at NRG Stadium has yet to be paid, less than 10 days before the Super Bowl, according to a lawsuit recently filed in Delaware state court.
Georgia-based Turf Nation, which makes the synthetic turf, has sued the contractor that installed the field for $3.5 million in allegedly unpaid bills.
The contractor that installed the $216,000 field at NRG Stadium at the beginning of the football season, along with more than 20 other sports fields across the nation, stopped paying its bills, according to the lawsuit that Turf Nation recently filed in Delaware against UBU Sports.
“We’re just being stonewalled,” said Sid Nicholls, president and owner of Turf Nation, a company with only 15 employees that has made the synthetic turf for 14 fields used by the National Football League.
Nicholls said he called NRG officials to alert them to the lawsuit and to let them know NRG has done nothing wrong. The stadium paid UBU Sports for the new field but UBU Sports did not, in turn, pay Turf Nation for manufacturing the synthetic surface, Nicholls said.
Illinois based-UBU Sports has not responded to the lawsuit, and its president did not return calls. Reached by phone, its former public relations manager, Dennis Van Milligen, said UBU Sports closed in December.
But the UBU brand of synthetic turf lives on. According to a news release announcing the deal in December, Austin-based Act Global, a company that has been making synthetic turf for about a dozen years, is the new owner, said Act Global spokesman Charles Fleishman. The company, which also owns the Xtreme Turf brand, has installed synthetic turf on more than 1,600 playing fields, including at many high schools and small colleges in Texas.
“We just bought the UBU brand, not the company,” said Fleishman, who said he was not familiar with the legal dispute swirling over the playing field at NRG Stadium.
He said Act Global is proud of the field at NRG Stadium. It’s the UBU brand on the field, Fleishman said.
NRG Park spokeswoman Nina Jackson noted that the litigation is between two private companies. The facility fulfilled all its financial obligations, she said. Jackson also pointed out that the field is not in jeopardy for the upcoming Super Bowl.
The synthetic turf replaced a design that used hundreds of grass trays installed by forklifts. The grass tray field was considered one of the worst in the league and has been blamed for causing several career-ending injuries. A recent lawsuit by one player claims that NRG didn’t change the turf design until Houston Texans defensive star Jadeveon Clowney suffered a season-ending knee injury.
Nicholls believes that UBU Sports and its owners transferred its intellectual property to Act Global Holdings to avoid payment. He noted that Act Global and UBU Sports shares some of the same management team.
Nicholls said he has never had to sue a contractor before.
“We make the turf. We’re just a small business.”- By L.M. Sixel, Houston Chronicle
The International Turfgrass Society (ITS) is a not-for-profit scientific organization established in 1969 to encourage research and education in turfgrass science, and to promote personal communication among the international community of turfgrass researchers by organizing international conferences to present turfgrass research and information on all phases of turfgrass production and use.
To this end, International Turfgrass Research Conferences (ITRC) are held at 4-year intervals. The hosts for past conferences have been England (1969), the United States (1973, 1993), Germany (1977), Canada (1981, 2001), France (1985), Japan (1989), Australia (1997), U.K. (2005), Chile (2009), and China (2013).
13TH INTERNATIONAL TURFGRASS RESEARCH CONFERENCE
Welcome to the website of the 13th International Turfgrass Research Conference (ITRC); your source for information about one of the most anticipated events in 2017!
The ITRC will be held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel located in New Brunswick, NJ USA from 16-21 July, 2017; the first time the ITRC has been held in the US since 1993. The Hyatt is a state-of-the-art hotel and conference center that is centrally located in the heart of New Brunswick, blocks from the local theater district, and within easy walking distance to dozens of fine restaurants and shops. It is also in close proximity to three international airports and two blocks from the train station where ITRC participants and their accompanying family and friends can hop on a train and be in the heart of New York City within 45-50 minutes.
The theme for the 2017 ITRC will be “Meeting the Challenges of a Changing Environment.” This theme was chosen for the 2017 conference because it reflects the tremendous impact that the environment has had and continues to have on our personal and professional lives. From the changing climate, to the changing regulatory environment for pesticides and fertilizers, and the rapid technological changes in molecular biology and other aspects of turfgrass science, the environment continues to affect the way we live and conduct turfgrass research.
The Scientific Program Planning Committee is developing an outstanding program based on this conference theme that will include keynote presentations on cutting-edge topics (such as phytobiomes, climate change, and sustainable water management), a graduate student oral and poster competition, and breakout sessions focusing on major subject matter areas that will be selected next spring based on paper submissions to the conference. A special recognition is also being planned in honor of Dr. James Watson, one of the founders of ITS and a pioneer in the turfgrass industry for over 40 years. Details about the Scientific Program and the Preliminary Schedule of Events for the 13th ITRC are still being finalized, click here to Read More.
So, join us for one of the largest and most comprehensive gatherings of turfgrass professionals anywhere in the world. Learn about the latest discoveries in turfgrass pest science, breeding, physiology, management, and much, much more. Get inspired by the scientific sessions, field tours, and stimulating discussions. Share your research, meet friends, network, and see all that the New York City/New Jersey area has to offer.