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SportsTurf Magazine
Updated: 59 min 18 sec ago

Using automotive expertise to tackle concussions

4 hours 41 min ago

Detroit has long been known as “The Automotive Capital of the World,” but now some Motor City engineers are using their auto-industry tech to make sports fields safer.

The engineers at Viconic Sporting, a privately owned company based in the Metro Detroit city of Dearborn, have created a new energy-absorbing shock pad that can be installed under artificial turf fields and will be commercially available this summer.

This underlayment system, which was adapted from their parent company’s automobile impact-protection technology, can reduce the risk of injury when an athlete hits the turf.

Although many companies offer shock pads for synthetic turf, Viconic’s pad is unique because it features an array of thermoplastic cones that collapse when a player hits the ground. These cones absorb a lot of the force from the impact, which decreases the amount of force that the player’s body experiences.

“Our technology is engineered to start to really buckle and collapse at what we feel is starting to be an injurious load level,” said Joel Cormier, Viconic’s Director of Development Engineering. “Then it recovers quickly for the next impact.”

So low-energy impacts — like running on the turf — will barely engage the energy-absorber or not engage it at all. On the other hand, high-energy impacts — like getting slammed to the ground — will cause the shock pad to crumple. This means the field will remain firm for normal gameplay, but it will become “softer” upon impact when a player falls forcefully.

Cormier believes shock pads are necessary for synthetic turf systems because the turf is usually laid over crushed stone or gravel, which isn’t always good for shock absorption. While modern turf carpets are built with energy-absorbing infill systems — usually consisting of a mixture of rubber and sand — these infills are often insufficient and will migrate over time.

Infill migration is most often seen on fields that experience heavy use. When athletes run on a synthetic turf surface, they track some of the infill with them. This causes the infill to thin out in high-traffic areas of the field, leaving almost no shock-absorbing material between the player and the stone base. That creates some obvious safety issues, but the presence of a pad can mitigate those concerns.

“When the energy-absorbing infill systems migrate from specific areas of the turf, you see increases in the G-levels that would be transferred to the body,” Cormier said. “So that’s one of the benefits of our technology…Regardless of what happens with the surface, you’ve got a high-efficiency energy-absorbing layer that’s always there.”

While the engineers at Viconic are using unique technology for their energy-absorbing layer, other types of shock pads are already in use. At the NFL level, three stadiums currently have a mixed rubber-gravel elastic layer (or E-layer) underneath artificial turf.

New Era Field (home of the Buffalo Bills) and MetLife Stadium (home of the New York Giants and Jets) have both had E-layers for several years. Those E-layers are “in situ,” meaning that they were permanently paved in place and won’t get removed during the offseason.

More recently, the Houston Texans installed a slightly different E-layer under their turf at NRG Stadium, where this last month’s Super Bowl was played. Their E-layer is “pre-engineered,” which means it was built before being installed, allowing for removal after the season and reinstallation before the next season.

Since high-quality E-layers can cost around $400,000, industry experts are pleased that NFL teams are embracing the technology.

“That’s an expenditure that was very progressive for the Texans and speaks volumes regarding the premium that franchise places on player safety,” said Mark Nicholls, a consultant at TURFconsultants.

Nicholls’ family also owns Turf Nation, a company that manufactured five of the 12 artificial turf fields that were used in NFL stadiums last year, including the fields at MetLife and NRG. Turf Nation previously manufactured all of the UBU Sports-branded installations, which includes those five NFL fields.

In addition to the game-day fields that have E-layers, a rising number of NFL practice fields have also been given shock pads in recent years. Although Viconic doesn’t currently serve any of these NFL clients, the company did receive a financial boost from the league, with help from a couple other large organizations.

“We began developing the technology on our own dime, and about a year into that development, we became aware of the Head Health Challenges that the NFL, General Electric, and Under Armor were sponsoring,” Cormier said. “So we saw it as an opportunity to defray some of our R&D costs.”

So Cormier and his team submitted a proposal for their underlayment system as part of the Head Health Initiative, a series of competitions that challenged innovators to develop technologies that could improve the diagnosis and prevention of brain injury. Out of 475 submissions, Viconic was chosen as one of three winners in Head Health Challenge II. The company was awarded $1.5 million, which it largely used for research and testing.

Viconic currently has shock pads installed at four different locations for beta testing. One of these sites is at the Center for Athletic Field Safety at the University of Tennessee, one of the leading institutions in sports turf research.

There, the company teamed up with John Sorochan, a plant sciences professor who has a PhD in Turfgrass Management and is a member of the Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA). Sorochan was happy to see a company that wanted to address football safety from a field-surface perspective.

“When Viconic Sporting won the NFL Head Health Challenge, they were the only group that won that actually looked at playing surfaces,” Sorochan said. “The other ones were more focused on head impacts using helmets or testing brains and things like that.”

Viconic Sporting’s original focus actually was helmet protection, as its first commercial product was a helmet-liner system for lacrosse helmets. But as the company’s knowledge of player safety grew, its forward-thinking engineers realized that their technology was a good fit for playing surfaces.

Of course, as development moved forward, some obstacles emerged. The biggest challenge was maintaining the playability of the artificial turf. While shock absorption is important for reducing the magnitude of impact injuries, the engineers at Viconic didn’t want to make the surface too soft and cause other types of injuries.

“Concussions are obviously a very important consideration, but so are lower extremity injuries as well, so we don’t want to reduce one but increase the risk for the other,” Sorochan said. “So we’re always trying to look at the balance — how do we reduce head impact criteria values and maintain the performance and agility of an athlete without tearing an ACL or rolling an ankle?”

That’s where the testing comes in. At the University of Tennessee, Viconic tested its pad on dozens of mini-fields. The company wear-tested the technology up to 500 simulated football games, applying many different variables including a variety of field surface conditions and a number of different infills.

After years of research, Cormier feels that Viconic has achieved a satisfactory balance between surface impact protection and surface playability. He’ll be heading back to the University of Tennessee this spring to do final validation testing on the full-sized field.

But not everyone believes shock pads are the best solution to the safety issues associated with artificial turf. The manufacturers at FieldTurf, a synthetic turf company that claims to hold 60 percent of the industry’s market share, believe that the crux of the problem lies closer to the surface.

Like Turf Nation, FieldTurf manufactured five of the 12 artificial turf fields that were used in NFL stadiums last year. While FieldTurf supports the use of shock pads and even offers its own high-drainage shock absorber — which is currently installed in the New England Patriots’ Gillette Stadium — the company’s philosophy is that heavier infill systems are the key to improving player safety.

“Yes, some of our NFL clients utilize an underlayment (shock pad) under their game fields,” Darren Gill, FieldTurf’s Vice-President of Marketing, wrote in an email. “More importantly, all of our NFL clients utilize our heavyweight infill system.”

To back up the company’s views about shock pads, Gill directed us to a 2016 study by a Spanish university, which found no difference in shock attenuation between a soccer field with an E-layer and a soccer field without one. On top of that, another 2016 study found that the incidence of high school football injuries increased with lower levels of infill.

The study’s author, Idaho State professor Michael Meyers, found that injury on artificial turf is much more likely to occur when the infill system weighs less than six pounds per square foot (many high school and youth-level fields fit that criterion). Meyers conceded that 40 percent of the study’s funding came from FieldTurf, but he maintained that the results were independent and unbiased.

While industry experts may disagree on the “best” way to curb artificial turf-related injuries, most of the people interviewed for this article agreed that shock pads can be part of the solution. Nicholls, in particular, is confident that a good underlayment system would be beneficial under almost any circumstance.

“I believe everyone in their right mind, armed with common sense, would desire a pad underneath their system,” Nicholls said. “But like many things in life, it is often driven by finance.”

Indeed, the cost of Viconic’s underlayment system could be a determining factor in its success or failure. One of the primary benefits of artificial turf is that, over the long run, it’s more cost-effective than natural grass.

According to Nicholls, a new artificial turf carpet would cost roughly $350,000-$400,000. If you assume a normal 10-year life cycle for the turf, along with $15,000-$20,000 in annual maintenance costs, that puts the total 10-year cost somewhere in the $500,000-$600,000 range.

Maintenance for a good natural grass field, on the other hand, could cost about $60,000-$80,000 per year — or $600,000-$800,000 over 10 years. So choosing artificial turf over natural grass could potentially save buyers hundreds of thousands of dollars over the lifetime of the surface.

The problem that pad companies like Viconic encounter is that shock pads can cost anywhere from $100,000-$400,000, depending on the company and the quality of the pad. That cost alone can negate any savings that buyers earn when they choose artificial turf.

On top of that, the market for shock pads (and artificial turf in general) is largely price-driven. In an effort to sell their product, vendors are often thrown into a public bidding process in which the lowest bidder frequently gets the nod. So making the price affordable is a crucial consideration.

Although Viconic hasn’t yet released a price point for its shock pad, Cormier believes that the company will be able to compete with rival underlayment systems. When asked about cost concerns, he replied with the following statement:

“System cost and performance optimization has and will continue to be a focus for Viconic. Our proprietary patented pad system will be cost competitive with other technologies currently in the market place.”

When Viconic’s pad hits the market this summer, Cormier thinks the company’s distinctive thermoplastic technology will ultimately put it a step above its competitors. On top of that, he says Viconic’s pad will be easy to install.

“Part of the (Head Health Challenge) grant money was spent on engineering a system where panels interlock and snap together, making installation simple and easy,” he said.

While Viconic doesn’t offer installation services themselves, it does provide training for the people who are typically contracted for that type of work — usually the turf system installer or the builder who does the base work preparation.

Regardless of who is performing the installation, Cormier says that Viconic will do everything it can to make it a painless process. That also means the company will customize the pad to the needs of the buyer.

“With our technology, we feel we can engineer it for any level of play from youth sports to professional athletes,” Cormier said. “NFL players like to play on a very firm surface and that’s not going to be the same type of surface that your average high school or middle school athlete is going to play on.”

In the end, shock pads like Viconic’s require a delicate balance. They have to maintain a firm playing surface but also be soft upon impact. They have to be meticulously engineered but also reasonably priced. They have to be continuous across 100+ yards of turf but also be practical to install. That’s no small task, but Cormier believes his company has achieved it.

“I think it’s been viewed quite favorably overall from the turf manufacturers,” Cormier said. “Time will tell how successful we are at competing in that marketplace.”

Until that time comes, we can only guess whether Viconic will establish firm footing in the market or buckle under the pressure of competition. For now, Viconic’s level of success will remain a mystery, hidden beneath the surface.

Categories: test feeds

One Turf Concept offers protocol for multi-use fields

4 hours 42 min ago

World Rugby, FIFA and the International Hockey Federation (FIH) have joined forces in order to develop a new, universal protocol for multi-sport playing fields.

The protocol, which has been dubbed the ‘One Turf Concept,’ is the result of several years’ collaboration between the federations and much discussion with industry leaders.

The Concept is applicable to any artificial turf field not designed to meet the specifications of one sport and is formulated to balance player performance with surface playability.

World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont told Premier Rugby, “While the elite level of each code has a distinct need that often requires its own specific playing surface, 99 percent of players fall outside that professional, elite group and have different requirements.”

“Those seeking to provide safe and high-quality facilities are often in an environment where space and money are limited,” said Beaumont. The Concept is particularly expected to benefit athletics programs at the community level.

One Turf Concept offers guidance for those intending to convert existing fields, as well as those looking to install a new surface.

For existing fields, the Concept outlines the minimum performance requirements necessary to meet multi-sport needs, based on player and ball interaction with the surface.

For new installations, it provides guidance on how to ensure the longevity of the surface through lab-simulated climatic degradation testing, as well as suggestions for identification testing to ensure that installed materials are of the same quality as tested materials.

The federations have also put together a comprehensive requirement guide for field owners desiring to achieve multiple sport certifications.

FIH director of sport and development David Luckes told Premier Rugby, “While short-pile products are preferred for hockey, the FIH recognizes that this partnership can aid development by providing opportunities to play hockey on surfaces where there are no alternatives.

World Rugby, FIFA and FIH will continue to work with manufacturers and test labs to refine the concept and increase surface longevity and performance.

Categories: test feeds

Minneapolis considers blocking use of tire rubber on playgrounds, athletic fields

4 hours 43 min ago

The ground-up tire rubber filling playgrounds in Minnesota and across the country is facing fresh scrutiny in Minneapolis amid growing concerns the bouncy surface contains toxic chemicals.

Last Friday, the Minneapolis City Council debated whether the city should use whatever leverage it can to discourage the use of tire mulch on playgrounds and athletic fields. Those decisions are largely left to school and park officials, but some City Council members are so concerned about the potential dangers to Minneapolis residents that they want to ensure city money isn’t spent on the material.

“I’m convinced the stuff is potentially dangerous enough that we should use alternatives,” said Council Member Cam Gordon, who has spearheaded the effort to curb their use.

The debate echoes one being held in communities around the country, as school and park officials search for the most safe and durable surfaces for athletic fields and playgrounds. While studies into the health effects of recycled tires have not been conclusive — major studies led by health officials in California and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are still underway — the concern is the presence of toxic chemicals.

In Edina, parents raised concerns about the material in 2016 when the school district proposed replacing four grass athletic fields with synthetic turf with crumb rubber infill. But school officials opted to proceed with the projects, saying the material is strong and safe.

The Park Board doesn’t use tire mulch on playgrounds in Minneapolis, but has crumb rubber infill in eight synthetic athletic fields, making them far more durable than natural fields and providing a consistent playing surface for sports like soccer.

The city does not control any playgrounds or playing fields that use waste tires for cushion, but the city is a significant contributor to parks funding.

Last year, the City Council agreed to a 20-year Neighborhood Park Plan that would provide $11 million annually for park maintenance and rehabilitation. That money, and how it is used, could be affected by the council’s vote, though neither Gordon nor Park Board officials are certain.

Park officials say a city prohibition on the material would disrupt plans to expand the Currie Park field in Cedar Riverside and put a dome over it, since the field uses crumb rubber for cushion. The soccer field at Stewart Park in the Phillips neighborhood was the first to be installed with crumb rubber six years ago.

“We are the recreation experts, the city is not,” said Park Board Commissioner Scott Vreeland. “The discussion of the city micromanaging our fields concerns me.”

It’s not clear to the Park Board or the City Council whether action by the city would prevent the Park Board from using crumb rubber on athletic fields. Lawyers for the Park Board said the body has broad discretion on how to use the money from the 20-year Neighborhood Park Plan.

“There was some question that the Park Board funding flows through the city, so this is what caused the big kerfuffle,” Gordon said.

Park Board Superintendent Jayne Miller said the main priority is safe fields, and crumb rubber from tires appears to be the safest for now because the proposed alternatives “need to be examined by science and research.”

Using natural turf is a lot of work, Miller said, requiring long growing periods, fertilizers and irrigation, and maintenance, especially for heavily used fields.

The Park Board said it wants the City Council to delay action for 30 days to give its lawyers time to investigate whether the city has authority to enact the crumb rubber ban.

And if the city doesn’t allow a delay, the Park Board requests a moratorium on city-financed projects using crumb rubber, but no prohibition on projects funded through the 20-year Neighborhood Park Plan.- By Faiza Mahamud and Adam Belz Star Tribune staff

Categories: test feeds

Europeans say no need for crumb rubber concerns

4 hours 44 min ago

A report published by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has indicated that there is little cause for concern regarding exposure to chemicals as a result of contact with synthetic turf surfaces and recycled crumb rubber infill.

The Helsinki-based agency said in its report that based on current available evidence, it “has found no reason to advise people against playing sports on synthetic turf containing recycled rubber granules as infill material.”

Though the agency said that there are a number of hazardous substances found in many infills, the concentration of these substances is low enough as to not pose dangerous risks.

“The concern to players and workers is negligible given the available, although limited, migration data for metals, which are below the limits allowed in the current toys legislation,” the report reads.

In compiling its report, the ECHA considered exposure by skin contact, ingestion and inhalation, and concluded that, “there is at most a very low level of concern.”

The conclusions corroborate the results of previous studies, including the January study conducted by the Washington State Department of Health that found no links between turf and cancer risk.

The agency compiled a list of recommendations for regulators, synthetic turf field owners and operators, crumb rubber producers, sports associations and player based on its evaluation. The agency recommends that players follow basic hygiene practices including hand washing, cleaning cuts, and avoiding swallowing crumb rubber.

Despite the positive outlook based on current information, the report admits that some uncertainties remain and more research is required.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency is expected to produce a report on recycled tire crumb rubber later this year.

You can read the full ECHA report here.- by Jason Scott, Athletic Business

Categories: test feeds

Toma still working spring training at age 88

March 28, 2017

At 5-foot-2, groundskeeper George Toma stands four and a half inches shorter than his golden rake. But the man, 88, looms large in sports.

Toma has guided the grounds crew at all 51 Super Bowls. He has installed and maintained fields for the NFL in London, Barcelona, Tokyo and Mexico City among others cities worldwide.

Toma casts a legacy in Lee County, too.

During the 1970s and ’80s at Terry Park in Fort Myers, Toma maintained the fields while working for the Kansas City Royals.

For the past 17 spring training seasons, with no plans to stop, Toma has worked for Lee County and the Minnesota Twins at Hammond Stadium. Former Lee County director of parks and recreation John Yarbrough met Toma during his Royals tenure at Terry Park and found an opportunity to bring him back as an independent contractor in 2000.

“To me, it meant that our workers, our ground maintenance staff, would be working with a legend. The legend,” Yarbrough said. “The professionalism that he has, you can’t get that anywhere. He’s forgotten more than anybody knows. He’s been at the Super Bowl longer than anybody in the NFL.

“I think the opportunity to surround our staff with that kind of knowledge and experience is priceless.”

Lee County pays Toma $7,800 for six weeks of many 12-hour days, which amounts to about $15 an hour or $1,300 a week.

The average Lee County groundskeeper makes $1,280.28, bi-weekly, about $31,200 a year.

The Minnesota Twins pay for Toma’s spring training lodging, although he spends more time tending the fields than at a nearby hotel.

“People think I’m a millionaire,” said Toma, who spends most of the year in Westwood, Kansas, not far from Kansas City, Missouri, where he cuts the lawns of his senior citizen neighbors during the summertime for free.

He said he never made more than $50,000 a year when working full-time for the Kansas City Royals.

“That’s my own fault,” Toma said. “I should have stuck up for myself. If I had never worked for the NFL, I never would have made things work for my family.”

Being underpaid might be Toma’s only regret. He encouraged his three sons to abide by his motto of “And then some,” a saying he cultivated to put forth additional effort in his endless pursuit of perfection.

Now there’s more than one Toma on the Lee County grounds crew. His oldest son, Chip Toma, 66, accepted a full-time job last summer at CenturyLink Sports Complex. He’s in charge of Field Three on the minor league side and helps his dad during the big-league Twins games, when all hands are on deck.

“He wants that minor-league field to be a field like it is in the big leagues,” George Toma said of Chip.

Rick Toma, 52, is the chief operating officer of The Money Source, Inc., a bank specializing in mortgages. Ryan Toma, 33, works as a pilot for Delta Airlines.

All three sons have served on Super Bowl crews with their dad at various times.

“Oh no, I don’t think any of us will retire per se,” Rick Toma said. “There’s such enjoyment in it. For some folks, if there’s not enjoyment, they watch the clock. When you love what you do, time is not an element at all.”

Toma reports for duty in Fort Myers about 10 days after the Super Bowl. He departs after the last spring training game has been played. He doesn’t delegate much, either.

“I guess the secret to a long life is you get a nail board and walk the infield all the time,” said Jim Steeg, who for 26 years worked for the NFL as an executive vice president, supervising the Super Bowl. Although Steeg, 66, is 22 years younger than Toma, George and Chip Toma considered Steeg a father figure.

“The group that works with him, they’re a different type of people,” Steeg said. “They’re non-stop workers. They’re the guys who put 16, 18 hours into a day. George is obviously the first to get there and the last to leave. There’s not a job that happens with this that he doesn’t do himself. If you’re talking about dragging the infield or whatever, he’s going to be out there doing it himself.

“I think a lot of people admire that.”

Groundskeepers across Major League Baseball, the NFL and even in auto racing, such as the crews at the Daytona Speedway, revere George Toma, the trunk of a groundskeeper’s tree that has grown many branches.

“Everyone gravitates to him, because he works so hard,” said Jim Leyland, a longtime major league and current manager of Team USA during the World Baseball Classic. He has known Toma since 1982. “If he was the groundskeeper, you never had to worry about the field. You knew it was going to be perfect.”

Boston Red Sox head groundskeeper David Mellor, 53, said Toma has been a mentor and friend for 35 years.

“My dream was to make it to the majors as a player,” Mellor said. “A month after I got out of college, I was hit by a car. Not only was my leg crushed, I thought my dreams were crushed. So my family urged me to find a career I would love to do.

“During a lot of that recovery, I thought about what I loved to do. I grew up taking care of people’s lawns, and I loved baseball. I wrote a letter to every major league groundskeeper.”

Only five wrote back to Mellor. Toma’s letter arrived first. It was handwritten and 16 pages long, dated Thanksgiving Day of that year. Mellor treasures the letter. He has worked for the Brewers, Angels, Giants, Green Bay Packers and now the Red Sox at Fenway Park, meaning Toma’s influence has spread to those teams as well.

“I have the utmost respect for him,” Mellor said. “He has an amazing spirit and he has been an amazing force for what he brought to our profession.”

Chip Toma looks like a near clone of his father, standing maybe an inch taller and having taken a near-identical career route. He worked for the NFL for a quarter of a century. He once installed a soccer field at the request of soccer legend Pele in Brazil. Chip Toma moved with his girlfriend to North Fort Myers last year with the intention to retire. That didn’t last long.

“The only way I could be happier is if I could open up a cantina on a Caribbean island,” Chip Toma said.

Chip Toma said he was beyond thrilled to work again alongside his father, nicknamed the “sod god” or, preferably, the “Nitty Gritty Dirt Man.”

George Toma said he had no plans to quit working for the Twins. Brian Dozier, the team’s second baseman, found that comforting.

“He really takes a lot of pride in our field,” Dozier said. “If I were to do a blind George or no-George test, I don’t know if I could. But I do know that when he’s out there, I don’t worry about anything.”

Lee County groundskeepers

George Toma, 88, has passed along 76 years of working knowledge as a groundskeeper to Lee County employees over the past 17 spring training seasons. Here’s a roster of the full-time Lee Co. groundskeepers, as provided by Lee County:

 

JetBlue Park: Emory Mandala, Bobby Allen, Nathan Gluck, Raul Tambunga, Flavio Arreola Cornejo, Will Rodgers, Aric Coffee, Eric Rubio, Randal Goist, Antonio Rodriguez

CenturyLink Sports Complex: Aaron Geary, Josh Landals, Pat Roemer, Chad Yoder, Jeff Mansell, Evan Smith, Chip Toma, Josh Brooks, John Mele, P.J. Boutwell, Terry Slawson

City of Palms Park: Juan Aranda, Matthew Lapierre, Mike Phillips, Zach Ayotte, Dolan Bechtol

Others: Kyle Katzenmeyer, Brian Kinney, Billy Macphee, Brady Marshall, Cory Rodgers, Evan Smith, John Steinman, Mike Tambunga, Ronald Thomas, Raymond Thompson

Categories: test feeds

Cultivars and disease resistance

March 28, 2017

From SportsTurf’s Feb issue, Pamela Sherratt’s “Q&A” column:

Q: While attending a conference session on gray leaf spot disease recently, I heard a speaker advise the audience to use a blend of turfgrass cultivars that displayed good genetic resistance to the disease. Using more resistant cultivars was just one tactic in a broader, more holistic approach that he felt was necessary to combat this pervasive disease. At the end of the presentation, an audience member asked where he might go to find more information about turfgrass cultivar selection and how to access the names of the best performing cultivars. I will attempt to address that question here.

A: The quick answer to the question about turfgrass cultivar performance is to recommend the National Turfgrass Evaluation Program (NTEP.org) website. NTEP is a non-profit organization that has (together with USDA) developed uniform evaluation trials of turfgrass species in the US and Canada. Trials are conducted at various locations and data is collected and disseminated on an annual basis. Trials include data on turfgrass quality, spring green-up, resistance to diseases and insects, tolerance to heat, cold, drought and traffic tolerance, etc.

This information is available through annual progress reports posted on the website. In addition to the NTEP data posted online, many schools, particularly land-grant universities, conduct turfgrass cultivar performance trials and publish their findings in annual research proceedings. Examples of schools that conduct trials and publish reports include Rutgers University, North Carolina State, University of Minnesota, University of Georgia, Oklahoma State, and Virginia Tech.

The Turf Breeders Association is a good place to look if you are searching for a turf breeder or seed-producer in your location. Turf breeders may be based at a university or with a seed company and they have extensive knowledge about the cultivars they sell and the availability of seed that year. Many of these turf breeders speak at STMA and regional conferences and have successful outreach programs. Dr. Bill Meyer and Dr. Leah Brilman are two that spring to mind. It’s also a good idea to have a rapport with a local seed supplier, as they will know what’s new and what is performing best in cultivar trials. Keep in mind that some of the cultivars listed in trials may not be commercially available yet, or may not produce consistent seed yields to make them commercially viable. This is sometimes the case with Kentucky bluegrass cultivars.

Evaluating the data from cultivar performance trials also deserves a mention. The cultivars are ranked 1-9, with 1 representing worst and 9 representing best. A quality rating of 6 or lower is considered unacceptable. The best rating of 9 is given to healthy turf with a fine leaf texture, high density and dark green color. The ratings are typically made monthly and are subjective in nature, though there are NTEP guidelines that each grader follows. Other data includes percent ground cover and depth of thatch. Cultivar differences are based on use of Least Significant Difference (LSD) statistics for mean separation. Per the NTEP website: “The LSD value(s) is located at the bottom of each table. To determine whether a cultivar’s performance is truly different from another, subtract one entry’s mean from another entry’s mean. If this value is larger than the LSD value, the observed difference in cultivar performance is significant and did not happen by chance. For example, two cultivars, ‘X’ and ‘Y’, have mean turfgrass quality values of 7.0 and 5.0, respectively, with the LSD value being 1.0. Since the difference between ‘X’ and ‘Y’ (2.0) is larger than the LSD value (1.0), cultivar ‘X’ performed significantly better than cultivar ‘Y’ for mean turfgrass quality. Please remember that results can vary from year to year and from location to location. Therefore, always reference the LSD value when interpreting test results.”

One of the most important considerations when selecting athletic field cultivars is its ability to withstand wear injury and compaction stress. As defined in the NTEP rating guidelines, wear injury occurs immediately upon trafficking a turf. Wear injury symptoms are often expressed within hours and definitely within days. Compaction stress injury is more chronic and is expressed over time. Traffic tolerance ratings are conducted at several sites and simulated traffic is applied using different types of equipment, so there may be some variation among results, but the data does give a good indication of a particular cultivar’s tolerance level. Since not all states have a traffic trial it’s important to use data from the closest regional trial.

Since so much perennial ryegrass is used on sports fields, another important consideration when selecting athletic field cultivars is disease resistance, particularly the level of tolerance to destructive diseases like gray leaf spot, Pythium and brown patch. It’s important to note that some cultivars are more resistant to disease than others, but none are immune. Other criteria that are particularly desirable for turf on athletic fields include spring green-up (important for spring sports like lacrosse and baseball), seedling vigor and overall turf quality, which is a combination of color, texture and density.

In summary, the NTEP website is an invaluable tool for selecting the best cultivars for athletic fields in a given location, but establish a good rapport with your local seed supplier to see which of your preferred cultivars are available.

Categories: test feeds

Park district installs plastic tennis courts

March 28, 2017

Guilford Tennis Center’s 12 traditional courts in Rockford, IL, a sea of faded green and blue marked by patchwork lines, await their long-overdue makeover this summer.

One, though, looks perfect. And, upon closer inspection, different. Because it is.

The Rockford Park District laid a plastic court over one of its deteriorating courts at Guilford. It is an experiment; officials want to see how the surface made by Flex Court Athletics is received before weighing it as an option to replace other courts around town.

“They were originally in LaSalle-Peru but manufactured now in Rockford,” said Laurie Anderson, the Park District’s operational director. “We made a sponsorship partnership for a greatly discounted price. They wanted to have a product featured in their hometown. We’re thinking this could be an option for our neighborhood tennis courts and wanted to get player feedback.”

The court is made of square plastic tiles. Each tile has a pattern of 16 squares by 16 squares, and the court inside the lines is 92 blue tiles long and 52 tiles wide with many more tiles, in green, outside the lines.

The biggest selling point for the Flex Court is it lasts and lasts – and lasts. Freeport installed three plastic courts at Krape Park 20 years ago and they still look brand new.

“The average court, you are redoing it every five to 10 years,” said Freeport High School boys tennis coach Ed Schradermeier. “They’ve done no patch work with those courts. The tiles tend to move, so you just slide them over each year.”

If those were traditional courts, Freeport might have had to replace them twice already. That’s expensive. Jack Carey, Freeport Park District’s executive director,

said it cost $340,000 to replace four traditional courts at Reed Park two years ago.

“The cost savings is tremendous,” Carey said. “Tennis courts are not an easy fix. If you can find an alternative that extends the life of the courts, you have to take a serious look at it.”

The worry is that serious tennis players won’t like it.

“A lot of the better players say they don’t want to play on it, but I personally have never had a problem with it,” said Schradermeier, who is a nine-time Freeport city tennis champion. “Clay courts are different. Indoor courts that are real fast are a little different. Everything is a little different.

“We put competitive matches on those courts over the years and they play out the same way. The person who should win usually wins.”

The courts come in various colors and can also be used for other purposes, such as getting surfaces painted with a 3-point line for basketball.

“I know players have mixed feelings on plastic courts, but with updated technology since the Freeport ones have been put in, it was worth trying,” Anderson said. “It may be the solution for some players, but for others probably not.

“We want to get feedback on it. It might not be for the highest level of competitive play, but it certainly is a possible solution for recreational tennis to be played and for kids to be introduced to the sport.”- by Matt Trowbridge, Sunday Telegram (Massachusetts)

Categories: test feeds

FLA school district introducing girls flag football

March 28, 2017

Similar to most students at Manatee High in Bradenton, FL, Abi Walsh spent most of her Friday nights during the fall sitting inside Hawkins Stadium and watching the school’s tradition-soaked football team.

There was one wrinkle: Walsh was there because she played in the marching band. She knew nothing about football.

“I’ve always wanted to learn more about football,” Walsh said. “I watched the games, but I’d never understand them.”

There Walsh was last Thursday, however, pulling in the game-winning two-point conversion to help the Hurricanes score an 8-6 win over rival Southeast High.

Manatee County is making its first foray into flag football this spring. Walsh is one of the girls who decided it to give it a try.

“It’s awesome coming into a sport where you know nothing and just learning so much about it,” said Walsh, a senior. “I’m soaking up the experience.”

The School District of Manatee County hopes more girls follow suit. Flag football is the district’s pitch to help stay in compliance of Title IX, always a chore because football participation is so robust. Complicating matters is that competitive cheerleading, one of the county’s most popular girls sports, isn’t recognized for purposes of Title IX.

So after noticing the popularity of powderpuff football, and fielding calls from parents and student-athletes, Jason Montgomery figured flag football was the perfect choice for offering girls another athletic option.

“We knew we had the interest,” said Montgomery, the county’s supervisor of athletics. “It was a natural fit.”

The Florida High School Athletic Association has been crowning champions in flag football since 2003 and added a second classification last spring. None of Manatee County’s public schools will be in the running for a title this year, though. All six are competing as independents and will play each other twice, resulting in a 10-game schedule.

This was the district’s choice, Montgomery said – staying within the county cuts down on travel costs while giving officials a chance to gauge how much interest there is for flag football.

If there is enough, Montgomery said the county may enter district play next year. Early indicators are good – three of the schools have enough participants to field varsity and junior-varsity teams.

“We want to see if we’re actually attracting kids that weren’t involved in spring athletics to add another event,” Montgomery said. “I don’t mind cross-over athletes, but at the end of the day, what we’re trying to do is get kids to come out who don’t compete in spring athletics.”

Flag football is 7-on-7. Each player wears a belt equipped with three flags – two on each side and one on the back – and everyone on the field is an eligible receiver. Walsh, for example, played center before sprinting into the end zone to make her big catch last Thursday.

Quarters are 12 minutes in length and, with the exception of the final two minutes of each half, are played under a running clock.

The field is divided into four 20-yard zones, and teams are awarded a fresh set of downs each time they enter a new zone. Touchdowns are worth six points, though teams have the option of tacking on one, two or three points after scoring, depending on the hash they choose to start from.

Southeast’s groundkeepers forgot the variety of point-after attempts prior to last Thursday’s game, leaving Daniel Bradshaw, the school’s athletic director, to add the lines roughly two hours before kickoff.

“It’s a new culture for everybody,” said Manatee coach Mike Alderson. “Some of the girls knew a lot, and some of the girls, it was their first time playing a sport. We had to start, I wouldn’t say from the ground up, but from a basic level and move ourselves forward. I think our girls have improved tremendously.”

Last week marked the first slate of the games and the schools will play on Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout the spring. Now that more girls have seen flag football up close, Bradshaw thinks more will want to participate.

Southeast had 16 players on its roster Thursday while Manatee had 14.

“Because it’s new, there were some girls unsure,” Bradshaw said. “I think as we go forward, the numbers will grow a lot. I would even expect that when we come back from spring break I’m going to have some girls asking, ‘Can I join?’ ”

Montgomery said he is still evaluating whether the teams will compete in districts next spring. That scenario could prove tricky – Charlotte and Sarasota counties don’t offer varsity flag football, and since Manatee County’s schools vary in size, the teams will likely have to find district competition in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties and increase travel costs.

One thing is for sure, though, in Manatee County, flag football is here to stay.- by John Lembo, Sarasota Herald Tribune (Florida)

Categories: test feeds

Owner seeks tax breaks for sports domes

March 22, 2017

The Summit mall owner wants a tax break for the two inflatable sports domes he plans to build later this year behind the largely vacant mall on Williams Road in Wheatfield (NY).

If granted, the request would save the mall’s owner an estimated $560,000 over 10 years.

The Niagara County Industrial Development Agency board on Wednesday called for a public hearing to be held on a date to be determined, before the board’s likely vote on the project April 12.

In November 2014, the IDA granted a tax break to mall owner Zoran Cocov for the 810,000-square-foot mall itself, after hearing his plans for trying to resuscitate the run-down shopping center.

Cocov, of Brampton, Ont., also bought 570 acres of land around the mall.

Cocov’s company, Summit Outlets, now seeks an additional payment-in-lieu-of-taxes, or PILOT, arrangement on a $7.3 million improvement project, including the pair of 96,000-square-foot domes. The domes would contain several sports fields and courts for soccer, baseball, volleyball and basketball.

Besides reducing the property taxes on the domes for 10 years, the incentive also would exempt Summit Outlets from paying sales taxes on building materials and equipment for the domes.

Cocov previously said that the domes would help revive the mall by bringing local players to the facility, which would be connected to the mall. The only active stores at the mall are Sears, Bon-Ton and Save-a-Lot.

Save-a-Lot will close before the end of the year, said Cynthia Potts, Cocov’s director of operations.

The domes would create 14 full-time and 60 part-time jobs, according to the IDA application. The domes can be used in the offseason for trade shows and conventions.

The project also envisions renovating 48,540 square feet inside the existing mall building. The space would be converted into locker rooms, a pool, batting cages, a pitching mound and 10,000 square feet for personal training, including a health club.

The domes may not be built at the same time, because their location requires National Grid to move the mall’s primary electrical service, Potts said.

“I think we’re going to end up starting with one dome,” Potts said.

But she said there’s still a chance both will be completed this year.

Cocov, who bought the mall in 2014, said in his application that vandals have taken 85 percent of its rooftop air handling units and 80 percent of its wiring.

“We are seeking assistance and tax abatement help with erecting the domes, which we believe is the first step to begin the revitalization and repurposing of the mall,” the application said. “Without financial assistance, it will take years for the domes to be erected, operating and sustaining themselves, driving the resurgence of the mall and new opportunities within.”

The company already has proposed a brew pub and microbrewery in the mall. The Town of Wheatfield on Feb. 27 approved a state grant application for $750,000 to be applied toward the project under the name of Big Thunder Brewing Co.- by Thomas Prohaska, The Buffalo News (New York)

 

Categories: test feeds

USA Football makes changes to youth game

March 22, 2017

USA Football, the national governing body for amateur football, intends to introduce a drastically altered youth football game in response to declining participation and increasing public belief that the game is not safe for children to play.

The organization has created a new format that brings the game closer to flag football and tries to avoid much of the violence in the current version. Among the rule changes: Each team will have six to nine players on the field, instead of 11; the field will be far smaller; kickoffs and punts will be eliminated; and players will start each play in a crouching position instead of in a three-point stance.

“The issue is participation has dropped, and there’s concern among parents about when is the right age to start playing tackle, if at all,” said Mark Murphy, the president of the Green Bay Packers and a board member at USA Football.

“There are, legitimately, concerns among parents about allowing their kids to play tackle football at a young age,” Mr. Murphy continued, “so they can look at this and say they’ll be more comfortable that it is a safer alternative.”

Worries about the future of youth football are mounting as evidence of long-term cognitive dangers of playing the game grows.

For years, the sport’s top officials have played down the science and insisted that tackle football could be played safely. Neurologists have found a degenerative brain disease, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, in an alarming number of former football players, and last year the NFL’s top health and safety officer acknowledged for the first time the link between the disease and brain trauma sustained on the field.

“This is the future of the game,” Scott Hallenbeck, the executive director of USA Football, said in an interview at the organization’s annual convention here last weekend. “All of this is all about how do we do a better job, and a smarter job around the development of athletes and coaches in the game of football.”

USA Football has for years promoted a program called Heads Up Football to youth and high school coaches to combat safety concerns and declining participation. But research, endorsed by the organization, that showed Heads Up Football helped reduce concussions and other injuries proved to be misguided, a review by The New York Times found.

The group has also promoted flag football, which has no tackling, with success. Participation in the game, which is typically played by younger athletes, grew 8.7 percent last year, Mr. Hallenbeck said.

Even so, participation in tackle football by boys aged 6 to 12 has fallen by nearly 20 percent since 2009, though it rose 1.2 percent, to 1.23 million, in 2015, according to the Sports and Fitness Industry Association. Schools in several states — including in Maine, Missouri and New Jersey — have shut their tackle football programs because of safety concerns and a shortage of players.

The participation declines in tackle football are worrisome not just to youth football organizations like Pop Warner, but to the NFL, which sees youth football as a way to develop future fans and pro players. The NFL has given USA Football tens of millions of dollars to promote the youth game, and the league’s presence was felt at the convention, which was held just a few miles from where the Pro Bowl was played.

USA Football began exploring new ways to play the game in 2015. Unlike sports like baseball — which has a progression of levels, from T-ball up, suited to each age group — football had few alternatives to the flag and tackle versions. The new format, called modified tackle, is a way to give nervous parents an alternative. Coaches would also rotate players in different positions during games to give everyone a chance to carry the ball and avoid mismatches between large and small kids.

The first modified tackle scrimmages were held in September with youth teams in Cleveland. Chuck Kyle, the football coach at St. Ignatius High School, who ran the scrimmages, said that though much more work was needed to determine if this version of the game was safer, the initial evidence was positive.

“By bringing the field in, first of all, I think there’s better form tackling because less speed, less momentum, more one-on-one tackling,” Mr. Kyle said. “I didn’t see as many pileups, because there’s seven people” on a side, not 11.

USA Football is hoping that a few teams and leagues in different parts of the country test the game more formally this year. A national rollout of the game is still several years away.

Still, Mr. Hallenbeck made sure to introduce the concept of modified tackle to the more than 1,000 high school coaches and administrators assembled here. He said that youth football was at a “critical crossroads” and that the football community, which faces “adversity,” must work together to create a safer game with more alternatives for children and their parents.

Other keynote speakers, including former NFL coaches, players and team presidents, echoed Mr. Hallenbeck’s call to arms at the three-day event, saying the sport is under threat.

“There are a lot of geniuses out there that are diminishing football right now,” said Jon Gruden, a former coach of the Oakland Raiders and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who now works as an analyst for ESPN. “There are a lot of geniuses that are trying to damage the game, and ruin the game. Do you feel it? There are a lot of geniuses that want to eliminate all sports, including recess.”

“Not on my watch, and clap your hands if you’re with me on that,” he added, to loud applause.

Many attendees at the conference said they were receptive to the new format if it helped keep children participating and allayed parents’ concerns.

“The games are getting a lot faster and kids are getting bigger, so they need to modify the game so parents feel it’s safe,” said Paul Macklin II, who helps run recreation programs in Norfolk, Va. “We have to come up with new ideas.”

Medical experts and safe sports advocates were more skeptical. The brains of children grow at incredible rates, and repeated jarring blows to the head can stunt that growth, doctors say. While concussions are a concern, the larger danger to an athlete’s long-term cognitive health is the repeated sub-concussive blows like the ones that linemen absorb on nearly every play from scrimmage.

Several studies have shown that college and professional players who began playing tackle football as young boys have a greater risk of developing memory and thinking problems later in life than athletes who took up the game after they turned 12. Starting to play tackle football as teenagers is more prudent, doctors say.

“The earlier they started playing, the worse their brains fared later on,” said Dr. Robert Stern, the director of clinical research at the Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Center at the Boston University School of Medicine.

“To me, it makes sense we would want to do everything we can to reduce or eliminate purposeful hits to the brain,” Dr. Stern added. “But if the culprit is the repetitive hits to the brain, that’s the starting point for making changes.”

Terry O’Neil, the founder of Practice Like Pros, a group that advocates reducing collisions in youth football, was more direct.

“If there’s tackling, then it doesn’t matter if it’s seven on seven or one on one,” he said. “There’s going to be contact with the other players and the ground. With the science available now, we find it surprising anyone would be promoting youth tackle football in any format.”

Developing modified tackle, he added, is a way for USA Football “to suggest that boys of this age are not able to play the game as it was designed.” The solution, he said, is for boys to play flag football through junior high school.

Whatever the merits of modified tackle, the biggest obstacle may be hidebound football coaches and the parents who cling to the notion that football is football only if it is played on a 100-yard field by 22 children at a time.

“We’d get a rebellion if we tried this because so many people don’t want to be told what to do,” said Jon Butler, the executive director of Pop Warner, the largest youth football organization in the country. Introducing modified tackle football “is going to be by trial and error.”

Categories: test feeds

STMA Call for Presentations is now open

March 22, 2017

Share your expertise by being a presenter at the 2018 STMA Conference and Exhibition. The conference will be held in Fort Worth, Texas from January 16-19. Presenting at the conference is a great way to share research and experiences and also increase your visibility within the sports turf management profession. STMA is seeking engaging presentations in the areas of sports turf management, design and construction, environmental regulation and compliance, professional development, and new technologies and research. For information on what is required on the online form and to submit your presentation ideas, CLICK HERE.

The Conference Education Committee completes a thorough review of each presentation in order to give everyone equal consideration. Presentations that are not selected are shared with our SportsTurf editor Eric Schroder for possible use as an article.

Please complete and submit all the required materials by the March 24, 2017 deadline. Submittals will be reviewed by the STMA Conference Education Committee, and notification of selection will be sent out in early June. For any additional questions, please contact Kristen Althouse at kalthouse@stma.org.

 

Categories: test feeds

Industry concerned about failure to educate consumers about new fuels

March 22, 2017

A new nationwide research study of over 2,000 adults 18+ conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) has found that Americans seem to remain confused about new fuel choices at the pump and their appropriate usage. Even more concerning are reports of consumers mis-fueling their engine products. This year’s poll shows more consumers have incorrectly used an E15 or higher ethanol fuel in an engine not designed for it this year compared to 2015 (five percent this year vs. three percent in 2015).

The OPEI survey found that more Americans who own outdoor power equipment are paying attention to the type of fuel they use this year than in years past, with 44 percent saying they pay attention (compared with 36 percent in 2016 and 35 percent in 2015). Additionally, awareness of ethanol in gasoline seems to remain steady, with 84%, overall, reporting they are aware of that fact this year compared to 85% in 2016 and 84% in 2015.

“While most people seem to be aware that there is ethanol in gasoline, the poll results show increased mis-fueling. This raises big concerns as different ethanol content fuels become available in the marketplace,” said Kris Kiser, President and CEO of OPEI.

Over three in five Americans assume that any gas sold at fueling stations is safe for all of their cars as well as other, non-road engine products, like boats and mowers (63 percent in 2017, up from 60 percent in 2016 and 57 percent in 2015). This year’s poll also shows roughly two thirds of Americans believe higher ethanol blends of gas are safe to use in any engine (31 percent).

“Hundreds of millions of pieces of legacy outdoor power equipment products are in use today that are designed and warranted to run on E10 or less fuel. Remember E15 is unlawful to use, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). With higher ethanol blends available for sale, such as E15, E30 and E85, it’s up to all of us to educate consumers about selecting the right fuel for the right product. Consumers can no longer assume that what goes in their truck or car is right for their lawn mower, snow blower, chainsaw, generator or other piece of outdoor power equipment,” said Kiser.

U.S. government tests have shown ethanol’s harmful effects on outdoor power equipment not developed for fuels containing greater than ten percent ethanol. A Department of Energy study found that E15 fuel caused hotter operating temperatures, unintentional clutch engagement, erratic running, and engine-part failure.

In 2014, OPEI launched its “Look Before You Pump” program to help educate consumers on proper fueling and pointing out that the U.S. government has said it is illegal to use gasoline containing more than 10 percent ethanol in outdoor power equipment.

But concern about selecting the right fuel for the right product seems to be far from the minds of consumers. Price seems to continue to drive choice when purchasing gas. Most Americans (69 percent) admit to choosing the least expensive gas whenever possible (up from 63 percent in 2015).

Only one quarter of Americans (25 percent) notice the ethanol content at the pump while just over half (53 percent) take note of the octane rating.

Other findings include:

  • Just over half of Americans (55 percent in 2017, up from 50 percent in 2015) say they always read the labels on fuel pumps.
  • The same proportion (55 percent) claim they typically only pay attention to warning labels on the pumps if they say “Warning” or “Do Not Use In…”
  • Only 7 percent think that it’s illegal to use higher ethanol blends of fuel, such as E15, in engines such as those in boats, mowers, chainsaws, snow mobiles, generators and other engine products.

Another fueling mistake committed by roughly one third of outdoor power equipment owners (31 percent) is placing equipment into long-term storage without draining the leftover fuel out first. However, on the upside, 33 percent claim they have mixed fuel stabilizer in with the fuel for their outdoor power equipment. Other findings along this vein:

  • Nearly half of outdoor power equipment owners (48%) said they would put fuel that is more than 30 days old in their equipment.
  • The majority of outdoor power equipment owners (80 percent) say they always use a safe container when storing gasoline for their equipment.
  • Just over a third (35 percent) label the fuel storage container they use for their outdoor power equipment with the date they purchased the fuel.

Go to www.LookBeforeYouPump.com for safe fueling information of small engine equipment.

Categories: test feeds

Industry concerned about failure to educate consumers about new fuels

March 22, 2017

A new nationwide research study of over 2,000 adults 18+ conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) has found that Americans seem to remain confused about new fuel choices at the pump and their appropriate usage. Even more concerning are reports of consumers mis-fueling their engine products. This year’s poll shows more consumers have incorrectly used an E15 or higher ethanol fuel in an engine not designed for it this year compared to 2015 (five percent this year vs. three percent in 2015).

The OPEI survey found that more Americans who own outdoor power equipment are paying attention to the type of fuel they use this year than in years past, with 44 percent saying they pay attention (compared with 36 percent in 2016 and 35 percent in 2015). Additionally, awareness of ethanol in gasoline seems to remain steady, with 84%, overall, reporting they are aware of that fact this year compared to 85% in 2016 and 84% in 2015.

“While most people seem to be aware that there is ethanol in gasoline, the poll results show increased mis-fueling. This raises big concerns as different ethanol content fuels become available in the marketplace,” said Kris Kiser, President and CEO of OPEI.

Over three in five Americans assume that any gas sold at fueling stations is safe for all of their cars as well as other, non-road engine products, like boats and mowers (63 percent in 2017, up from 60 percent in 2016 and 57 percent in 2015). This year’s poll also shows roughly two thirds of Americans believe higher ethanol blends of gas are safe to use in any engine (31 percent).

“Hundreds of millions of pieces of legacy outdoor power equipment products are in use today that are designed and warranted to run on E10 or less fuel. Remember E15 is unlawful to use, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). With higher ethanol blends available for sale, such as E15, E30 and E85, it’s up to all of us to educate consumers about selecting the right fuel for the right product. Consumers can no longer assume that what goes in their truck or car is right for their lawn mower, snow blower, chainsaw, generator or other piece of outdoor power equipment,” said Kiser.

U.S. government tests have shown ethanol’s harmful effects on outdoor power equipment not developed for fuels containing greater than ten percent ethanol. A Department of Energy study found that E15 fuel caused hotter operating temperatures, unintentional clutch engagement, erratic running, and engine-part failure.

In 2014, OPEI launched its “Look Before You Pump” program to help educate consumers on proper fueling and pointing out that the U.S. government has said it is illegal to use gasoline containing more than 10 percent ethanol in outdoor power equipment.

But concern about selecting the right fuel for the right product seems to be far from the minds of consumers. Price seems to continue to drive choice when purchasing gas. Most Americans (69 percent) admit to choosing the least expensive gas whenever possible (up from 63 percent in 2015).

Only one quarter of Americans (25 percent) notice the ethanol content at the pump while just over half (53 percent) take note of the octane rating.

Other findings include:

  • Just over half of Americans (55 percent in 2017, up from 50 percent in 2015) say they always read the labels on fuel pumps.
  • The same proportion (55 percent) claim they typically only pay attention to warning labels on the pumps if they say “Warning” or “Do Not Use In…”
  • Only 7 percent think that it’s illegal to use higher ethanol blends of fuel, such as E15, in engines such as those in boats, mowers, chainsaws, snow mobiles, generators and other engine products.

Another fueling mistake committed by roughly one third of outdoor power equipment owners (31 percent) is placing equipment into long-term storage without draining the leftover fuel out first. However, on the upside, 33 percent claim they have mixed fuel stabilizer in with the fuel for their outdoor power equipment. Other findings along this vein:

  • Nearly half of outdoor power equipment owners (48%) said they would put fuel that is more than 30 days old in their equipment.
  • The majority of outdoor power equipment owners (80 percent) say they always use a safe container when storing gasoline for their equipment.
  • Just over a third (35 percent) label the fuel storage container they use for their outdoor power equipment with the date they purchased the fuel.

Go to www.LookBeforeYouPump.com for safe fueling information of small engine equipment.

Categories: test feeds

Thirteen facilities achieve STMA Environmental Facility Certification

March 14, 2017

STMA rolled out its Environmental Facility Certification Program in June 2016. Since that time 13 facilities have achieved the designation and eight more are ready to have their facilities attested.

The program involves a written assessment “self-test” that a sports turf manager fills out electronically and submits to STMA. As with its Certified Sports Field Managers’ program (CSFM), a passing score is 80 percent on each of its 10 sections. When that is achieved, the sports turf manager arranges to have his or her best management practices validated by an approved attester, who can be an academic in turfgrass management or a CSFM. The attester does a walk through of the facility with the sports turf manager and electronically submits confirmation of the environmental practices.

Facilities certified:

Ciudad Real Madrid (SPAIN) – Paul Burgess, CSFM

Elon University Athletic Complex (NC) – Scott Stevens, CSFM

Grinnell College Athletic Fields (IA) – Jason Koester, CGCS

The Gulfport SportsPlex (MS) – Keair Edwards

Longfellow Park – Park District of Oak Park (IL) – Travis Stephen

Minute Maid Park (TX) – Izzy Hinojosa

Pleasant View Athletic Fields (CO) John Cogdill

Prairie Ridge Athletic Fields (IA) – Elliott Josephson

Real Madrid Santiago Bernabeu Stadium (SPAIN) – Paul Burgess, CSFM

Red Bull Arena (NJ) – Dan Shemesh, Zack Holm

Red Bull Training Facility (NJ) – Dan Shemesh, Zack Holm

Ruby Hill Park (CO) – Abby McNeal, CSFM

USC Upstate Soccer Complex (SC) – Bruce Suddeth

 

Facilities currently attesting:

Allen Pond Park (MD) – Edward Hall, CSFM

Championship Field at Seattle University (WA) – Dean Pearson

Collins Perley Sports & Fitness Center (VT) – David Kimel

Green Farms Academy (CT) – Tom Barry

Hibner Soccer and Tennis Complex (NE) – Jared Hertzel, Blake Nelson

Peoria Sports Complex (AZ) – Alan Siebert, CSFM

Texas Rangers Baseball Club (TX) – Andrew Powers

University of North Carolina Greensboro Athletic Fields (NC) – Peter Ashe, CSFM

 

Categories: test feeds

Interview with Jonathan Calderwood, grounds manager, Paris Saint-Germain

March 14, 2017

Katie McIntyre from Sports Venue Business (http://sportsvenuebusiness.com) caught up with Jonathan Calderwood, Grounds Manager for Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) on Friday, just hours before the footballing behemoth took on Nancy in a 1-0 win on the perfectly primed and pristine turf at the iconic Parc des Princes; and before last night’s shock defeat against Barcelona at the Nou Camp. See photo and read interview here

 

Categories: test feeds

Pro sports flocking to Vegas

March 14, 2017

Spencer Gallagher was born and raised in Las Vegas, and the Xfinity Series rookie driver always thought something was missing. All around him, inhabitants of Utah, Arizona and Southern California got to watch and support teams from the major sports leagues.

“It was one of the things I felt I missed out in my childhood,” he said Friday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. “Growing up here, I never had a sports team to root for. I always had to find one somewhere else.”

That has changed.

The NFL’s Raiders seem ever-so-close to relocating here from Oakland. With the recent Bank of America financial aid disclosure — for the nearly $2 billion RaiderDome, or whatever it will be nicknamed — the likelihood of the approval of three-quarters of the NFL’s 32 owners if they choose to vote at the annual meetings in Phoenix in a couple of weeks appears more fact than fiction.

The NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights begin play this fall. Their home, the sparkling T-Mobile Center on the south end of the Strip, has been operating for less than a year. Last week, it was one of four city sites for NCAA basketball conference tournaments.

NASCAR got caught up in the week’s sporting whirlwind by announcing that LVMS will, starting in 2018, host two Monster Energy Cup Series races every year. Along with the one that has been run every March for 20 years, a September race will be added during the 10-race playoff.

“The whole sports scene here has been revolutionized, between getting a second date at the speedway, getting ourselves an NHL team, (likely) getting an NFL team to come here,” said Gallagher, 27. “I’ve always wondered, to myself, why such a big market like Las Vegas has never had a professional sports team. This is fantastic. I finally get a stadium to go to and someone to root for.”

Former UNLV basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian first gave locals a taste of the big time at the end of the 1980s and into the ’90s. There were barely half a million residents in the metro area when the Runnin’ Rebels drew overwhelming support. Thomas & Mack Center averaged more than 18,000 fans in three of those seasons. In the title-winning campaign of 1989-90, a record 303,597 patrons turned the stiles.

Today, the Las Vegas metro area boasts more than 2 million residents. In 2016, nearly 43 million people visited. Major players have noticed.

“I’m happy for this town,” said veteran race car driver and Vegas native Brendan Gaughan, 41. “Las Vegas has always been amazing. Right now, it’s the entertainment capital of the world. Well, what is the largest form of entertainment in America right now? Sports.”

Gaughan’s father, Michael, son of Las Vegas legend Jackie Gaughan, built the Orleans hotel and casino. The family provided a home to a minor league hockey franchise, the Wranglers, by attaching a horseshoe-shaped arena to the property. Previously, the lower-level Thunder had been popular and successful.

Steve Stallworth, who 30 years ago backed up quarterback Randall Cunningham at UNLV, managed Orleans Arena. He set the stage for today’s college hoops euphoria by signing defending national champion Florida and Kansas to play in his barn in November 2006.

In 2001, Nevada’s Gaming Control Board had eliminated the prohibition of betting on UNLV or Nevada teams in the state’s sports books. Pairing the Jayhawks and Gators against each other in an arena attached to a casino was another landmark event. Stallworth, who runs South Point Arena for Michael Gaughan, also happens to be a longtime Raiders fan. He daydreams about visiting tailgate bashes in RaiderDome parking lots in his custom black-and-silver golf cart with the huge eye-patch logo on the front.

Colorful former mayor Oscar Goodman also influenced the boom. He first met with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman in September 1999. And throughout 2004, Goodman promoted the transfer of the Montreal Expos to Las Vegas. He sauntered into baseball’s winter meetings, at the Hilton in Anaheim, Calif., with a showgirl, flaunting flamboyant feathers and other assets, on each elbow, an Elvis impersonator in tow.

A public relations whiz, Goodman always saw this sporting wave coming.

Mike Villa, 37, a real estate agent who vividly recalls attending those electric UNLV basketball games, is another die-hard Raiders aficionado. It will be a “straight-up fairy tale,” he said Friday at the track, the day his team becomes the Las Vegas Raiders.

“And RaiderDome will be the cherry on top, the crowning of Vegas as a global force. For someone born and raised in Las Vegas, it’s a mind-blower. My happiness is off the charts.”- by Rob Miech, USA TODAY

Categories: test feeds

Johnston Seed Company hires turf business manager

March 14, 2017

Johnston Seed Company recently announced the hiring of David Gerken as turf business manager in the company’s Enid, Oklahoma headquarters where he will lead the company’s efforts in product and market development of sod and turf seeds, and provide technical guidance and support.

Gerken comes to the Johnston Seed Company with more than 20 years of experience in the turfgrass industry, working on golf courses all around the U.S. Previously, Gerken was associate professor, turf management at Oklahoma State University – Oklahoma City, where he taught turfgrass management, advanced turfgrass management, irrigation and drainage design, irrigation maintenance and troubleshooting, horticultural soils and principles of horticulture. He also oversaw the daily operations of the Turfgrass Management Training Facility.

Gerken received his master’s degree in turf science from Oklahoma State University as well as a bachelor’s degree in agricultural education, vocational education and animal science from Kansas State University.

About Johnston Seed Company

Johnston Seed Company has over 120 years of experience in seed agriculture. The company has evolved into a supplier of seeds, as well a marketer of many end use products that are produced in Oklahoma and other areas of the world. Johnston Seed Company was the first to enter in to the propriety seeded bermudagrass production and marketing business. Today, Johnston Seed Company is one of the leaders in the growth of seed agriculture.

 

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How to focus your energy through daily distractions

March 7, 2017

With today’s digital age, we are constantly getting bombarded with texts, notifications and emails. So how do we stay focused at work and power through the day’s distractions? Here are four ways on how to focus your energy to get things done.

 

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Collaboration with STRI Group to enhance Auburn turf research

March 7, 2017

Auburn University is joining forces with the world’s leading sports turf consultancy to initiate research and development programs throughout the US sports surface market.

The agreement with the STRI Group will focus primarily on expanding the US soccer industry, as well as conducting surfaces research in other sports including golf, football, baseball and equestrian.

The collaboration aims to further enhance Auburn’s existing turfgrass and sports turf research facility, helping it become a center of excellence for innovations and emerging technologies in sports turf. AU will showcase cutting edge techniques and technologies such as grow lights, water management and reinforced turf systems.

“Working with STRI is a great opportunity to not only grow our research program at Auburn, but to also greatly enhance the educational content, internship experiences and job opportunities for our students,” said Dr. Scott McElroy professor in the College of Agriculture’s Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences Department.

Over the past 5 years, STRI has reinforced its position as a market leader in the sports surface industry. With its collaboration with Auburn, STRI secures a permanent presence on four continents, with further significant investments being made at its facilities in Australia, the United Kingdom and Qatar.

“STRI is thrilled to collaborate with such a forward thinking and well-respected university,” said Lee Penrose, STRI Group Director. “Together, our organizations will create the leading sports turf facility in the U.S., demonstrating the latest in international thinking.”

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75 liters of urine in swimming pools

March 7, 2017

A recent study from the University of Alberta, Edmonton offers definitive proof that a significant volume of urine is present in public pools – suggesting not only the occasional accident, but the regular practice of using the water to disguise bodily function.

Researchers have developed a means of estimating the volume of urine hidden in large amounts of water by measuring the concentration of acesulfame potassium (ACE), an artificial sweetener commonly found in processed foods.

Researchers then used the average concentration of ACE – which passes through the body unchanged – in Canadian urine to estimate an approximate volume of urine inside a larger sample of liquid, which the obtained from public pools.

Over a period of three weeks, researchers tracked the daily levels of ACE in two Canadian public pools and found that the concentration of ACE remained roughly the same, suggesting that the urine levels were being regularly maintained.

In one pool, measuring 830,000 liters or about one third the size of an Olympic pool, researchers found a regular volume of urine measuring up to 75 liters. In the second, about half the size of the first, they volumes up to 30 liters.

Researchers also tracked measurements from eight hot tubs, finding levels of ACE much higher than in the swimming pools. In one hotel hot tub, a sample showed a concentration of ACE three times higher than the highest level found in a swimming pool.

All in all, the study looked at 31 pools and hot tubs in various Canadian cities and found ACE present in every sample, with the highest concentration measuring 570 times the amount of ACE found in control measurements of Canadian tap water.

While scientists hope to use this research as a means of developing tests to ensure that urine in public pools is kept to a hygienic level in the future, researchers debunked the existence of a chemical that will produce a colorful cloud upon the detection of urine in the water.

Graduate student Lindsay Blackstock, the study’s lead author, told The Guardian, “This is a myth probably used to scare children, and adults, into using proper hygiene practices for fear of public humiliation.”-by by Courtney Cameron, Athletic Business

 

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