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SportsTurf Magazine
Updated: 57 min 57 sec ago

Concussion awareness rises among players

13 hours 24 min ago

Concussions and their consequences remain a topic of intense interest from courthouses to pathology labs, Hollywood studios to locker rooms, doctor’s offices to sidelines. While concerns haven’t noticeably lessened fan enthusiasm for football – the NCAA achieved record attendance levels in 2015 – college players are paying close attention, as evident during last month’s 2016 ACC Football Kickoff at Charlotte, North Carolina.

A random survey of players in attendance found about a third had knowingly suffered concussions during their college careers. Keep in mind that only one in six concussions is diagnosed, according to the Concussion Legacy Foundation. “A lot of times they go unnoticed, and it’s up to the athlete to report that to us,” says Rob Murphy, N.C. State’s director of sports medicine. “The mentality of an athlete is fight through it, be tough. But the reality is, you can’t be tough when you’re dealing with head trauma.”

Wake Forest linebacker Marquel Lee didn’t hide anything. “I felt my bell get rung,” recalls Lee, felled while trying to tackle Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston in 2014. “I knew something wasn’t right. I stayed on the ground.”

After ministrations by trainers, Lee was sidelined during a bye week, then returned to action. “Concussions, it’s part of the game,” says the team captain. “I’ve been playing this all my life. It happens. It doesn’t deter me from doing my job.”

By now, though, the leader in denial has come around. The shift was emphasized earlier this year when Jeff Miller, the NFL’s vice president for health and safety policy, responded to a congressional query about a possible link between playing football and degenerative brain disorders. According to The New York Times, the NFL official conceded, “The answer to that is certainly, yes.”

The prospect of risking long-term trauma has depressed youth participation and persuaded a trickle of NFL players to retire early, vocally citing health concerns.- The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tennessee)

Categories: test feeds

Opinion: open school facilities lead to healthier public

13 hours 25 min ago

West Virginia is in the midst of a health crisis like nothing this state has ever seen.

We lead the nation in the incidence of multiple devastating illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, COPD and diabetes.

Even our children are at greater risk here than elsewhere: it is estimated that as many as one in five West Virginia fifth graders has hypertension, one in four fifth graders has high cholesterol and one in six kindergartners is obese.

This is unacceptable. And while we want all our citizens to be in better health for the simple reason of reducing their suffering, statistics such as these have far-reaching effects.

Given this health crisis, the cost of providing health insurance to West Virginia workers is so high it becomes prohibitive. This discourages our own people from opening new businesses and out-of-state companies from coming here. In turn, the lack of new job opportunities only furthers our state’s decline, both physically and financially.

We do need to put a greater emphasis on educating our children to make healthy choices, but when children are being raised in the very homes where these diseases and associated behaviors abound, lessons in school can have only a limited impact.

One of the most affecting things we can do, however, is to encourage fun physical activity for all West Virginians, young and old alike. Physical activity provides numerous benefits.

Along with dietary improvement, physical fitness reduces not only obesity, but also stress. It keeps diseases like diabetes in check, enhances self-esteem and increases longevity. On a statewide basis, it can improve our productivity and reduce everyone’s health care costs.

While many of our communities lack public gyms, private health clubs or even specified walking trails, every community has schools and every school has some level of athletic facilities. Over the years, access to these facilities for unorganized public recreation has been hampered by liability lawsuits and increased regulation.

To remove some of these barriers, the West Virginia Legislature passed a Shared Use Limited Liability Protection bill.

This new law, reducing liability for local schools that want to open their tracks, gyms, fields and other facilities, went into effect last year.

It means that a group can play pickup basketball in the gym every Monday night, kids can play soccer on a school field after hours or some local residents can get together every evening and walk around the high school track, all without the school administrators being worried about being sued over an accidental injury due to no fault of their own.

The dozens of schools that have adopted shared use – like Marmet Elementary, which is being recognized today at 4 p.m. – and opened their doors are already seeing the benefits in their student and adult populations.

Parents report that their children are more active after school, and the teachers are seeing less delinquency and improved academic performance from their students. But we need to encourage even more schools to adopt shared use.

To that end, we introduced a bill in the House in the 2016 regular session that required the West Virginia Department of Education (DOE) to create a program to add further incentive. It would have created a fund to provide schools with relatively small grants they could use to repair or upgrade their playground and athletic facilities.

Secondly, it would have required the DOE to keep a database of which schools participate in the program and how those communities are using those facilities, so we could track and measure its effects. Unfortunately, we faced resistance on several fronts and were unable to get it passed.

We will, of course, continue our efforts in the next (2017) regular session. Health-minded legislators – together with our allies at the American Heart Association and the West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition – are determined to introduce a similar bill.

The adoption, growth and success of the shared use program can be, and is, a relatively simple and inexpensive component in the fight for a more healthy, happy and prosperous state. Public awareness and support can only help ensure a brighter future for all our citizens.

Stansbury is an owner at West Virginia Eye Consultants and a member of the West Virginia House of Delegates.-by Chris Stansbury, Charleston Gazette-Mail

Categories: test feeds

HS nixes crumb rubber for cork-coconut combination

13 hours 26 min ago

The synthetic crumb rubber turf approved earlier this year to be used to refurbish the Hamden (CT) High School baseball field is out, and instead, a mix of cork and coconut, along with a “shock pad” said to reduce the risk of concussions, will be used to resurface the field.

“We looked at the football field that was renovated with artificial turf because it had been unsafe,” Mayor Curt Balzano Leng said. In that case, the same synthetic turf was used, and initially was approved for the baseball field, but town officials had vowed to keep looking for an alternative because there were objections to the crumb rubber turf from some that feel it’s not safe for kids to plan on.

During the public hearing held by land-use boards on the replacement of the baseball field, several spoke out against it, including Nancy Alderman of Environment and Human Health Inc., a consortium of Yale University medical experts who promote the possibility of the dangers of using artificial turf, including anecdotal evidence of higher cancer rates in student field hockey players, especially those who play goalie. While that evidence hasn’t been universally accepted, the federal government, led by U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., commissioned a new investigation into the issue, which is now ongoing.

The decision was made to go with the crumb rubber for the baseball field, but the investigation into alternatives continued, Leng said, which he did with Legislative Council President James Pascarella and Board of Education Chairman Adam Sendroff, both who were involved in the initial investigation into what turf to install on the field.

“We said we would still dig into the options available,” Leng said. “Safety and health are both of our priorities, and the question is what is the best and safest thing we could use on the field.”

The new turf that will be used on the field is called “GeoFill” and is made up of a totally organic mix including coconut husks and cork shavings, Leng said. “But it’s the bottom part that is the most important piece of the puzzle,” he said, referring to the white “shock pad” installed below the fill that provides extra protection against concussions. “It improves concussion-fall ratings significantly even to the point where years and years down the road, when the fill on top of it is not as new, it will still have protection because of the shock pad itself,” Leng said.

The pad alone is expensive, Leng said, at $200,000 for the size of the field, but the cost of the Geofil material is half the price of the crumb rubber turf, which makes up for the expense, he said. Overall, the new turf field will cost about 7 percent more than the crumb rubber field would have cost, he said. The Geofil also feels more like actual dirt that the synthetic field, and stays much cooler when temperatures rise, he said.

“Artificial turfs get extraordinarily hot,” he said. “It can be uncomfortable for players to play on them, and it also can be dangerous.” But because this fill is organic, it absorbs moisture and stays about 40 degrees cooler than the synthetic field, he said. “The quality of our fields, the safety of our athletes and the health of our community are the most important factors in determining how Hamden will proceed with renovating our fields,” Leng said.

With an option of a turf that provides better protection from falls, a more natural feel and eliminates the use of chemicals, the decision to go with the GeoFil turf was an easy one, Leng said.

The baseball field has severe drainage problems, Leng said, which will be corrected during the project. As a result, the field will no longer be solely for the baseball team but will function as a multi- purpose field, with other high school teams able to utilize it. Space has always been a problem at the high school, as its teams have been forced to use fields at the town’s elementary schools because there hasn’t always been fields available for use at the high school. Once this field is finished, it will be used by several teams, eliminating the need to bus the student off of the high school campus.

“I am very pleased with the decision to move forward with the Geofill system,” Pascarella said. “Overall playability and safety has always been my priority in advocating renovating these fields, and this will be a top quality turf field for Hamden’s athletes and allow for more outdoor plans for multiple sports.”

“We are very pleased that Mayor Leng disregarded the EPA’s flawed studies and chose to rely on scientists, environmentalists, coaches and concerned parents,” said resident Lauren Garrett, an outspoken critic of the crumb rubber synthetic turf who lobbied for a different turf to be used. “This decision sets a precedence that Hamden will use safe products to protect children.”

In the future, municipalities that chose to install the crumb rubber turf will be spending money to get rid of it when it’s definitively proven to be dangerous to student athletes, Garrett predicted.

“In the near future, municipalities will be removing toxic crumb rubber infill at a huge expense,” she said. “Hamden’s Curt Leng is looking out for taxpayers by installing a safe product.”

The new turf proposal will have to go before the Planning and Zoning Commission again for approval, Leng said.

The synthetic crumb rubber turf approved earlier this year to be used to refurbish the Hamden High School baseball field is out, and instead, a mix of cork and coconut, along with a “shock pad” said to reduce the risk of concussions, will be used to resurface the field.

“We looked at the football field that was renovated with artificial turf because it had been unsafe,” Mayor Curt Balzano Leng said. In that case, the same synthetic turf was used, and initially was approved for the baseball field, but town officials had vowed to keep looking for an alternative because there were objections to the crumb rubber turf from some that feel it’s not safe for kids to plan on.

During the public hearing held by land-use boards on the replacement of the baseball field, several spoke out against it, including Nancy Alderman of Environment and Human Health Inc., a consortium of Yale University medical experts who promote the possibility of the dangers of using artificial turf, including anecdotal evidence of higher cancer rates in student field hockey players, especially those who play goalie. While that evidence hasn’t been universally accepted, the federal government, led by U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., commissioned a new investigation into the issue, which is now ongoing.

The decision was made to go with the crumb rubber for the baseball field, but the investigation into alternatives continued, Leng said, which he did with Legislative Council President James Pascarella and Board of Education Chairman Adam Sendroff, both who were involved in the initial investigation into what turf to install on the field.

“We said we would still dig into the options available,” Leng said. “Safety and health are both of our priorities, and the question is what is the best and safest thing we could use on the field.”

The new turf that will be used on the field is called “GeoFill” and is made up of a totally organic mix including coconut husks and cork shavings, Leng said. “But it’s the bottom part that is the most important piece of the puzzle,” he said, referring to the white “shock pad” installed below the fill that provides extra protection against concussions. “It improves concussion-fall ratings significantly even to the point where years and years down the road, when the fill on top of it is not as new, it will still have protection because of the shock pad itself,” Leng said.

The pad alone is expensive, Leng said, at $200,000 for the size of the field, but the cost of the Geofil material is half the price of the crumb rubber turf, which makes up for the expense, he said. Overall, the new turf field will cost about 7 percent more than the crumb rubber field would have cost, he said. The Geofil also feels more like actual dirt that the synthetic field, and stays much cooler when temperatures rise, he said.

“Artificial turfs get extraordinarily hot,” he said. “It can be uncomfortable for players to play on them, and it also can be dangerous.” But because this fill is organic, it absorbs moisture and stays about 40 degrees cooler than the synthetic field, he said. “The quality of our fields, the safety of our athletes and the health of our community are the most important factors in determining how Hamden will proceed with renovating our fields,” Leng said.

With an option of a turf that provides better protection from falls, a more natural feel and eliminates the use of chemicals, the decision to go with the GeoFil turf was an easy one, Leng said.

The baseball field has severe drainage problems, Leng said, which will be corrected during the project. As a result, the field will no longer be solely for the baseball team but will function as a multi-purpose field, with other high school teams able to utilize it. Space has always been a problem at the high school, as its teams have been forced to use fields at the town’s elementary schools because there hasn’t always been fields available for use at the high school. Once this field is finished, it will be used by several teams, eliminating the need to bus the student off of the high school campus.

“I am very pleased with the decision to move forward with the Geofill system,” Pascarella said. “Overall playability and safety has always been my priority in advocating renovating these fields, and this will be a top quality turf field for Hamden’s athletes and allow for more outdoor plans for multiple sports.”

But Joshua Elliott, who is locked in a primary battle with Pascarella for the Democratic nomination for the 88th District state House of Representatives seat, said Pascarella has flip-flopped his position. He said in stories that appeared in the Register in January and February, Pascarella defended the use of crumb rubber.

“As Legislative Council President, Jim Pascarella, earlier this year, lobbied hard for and won approval to continue using the less expensive crumb rubber synthetic at Hamden High School despite ardent pleas from concerned parents, scientists, and environmentalists who warned him about the serious health risks,” Elliott said in a release. “He stated in the New Haven Register: ‘Our students have been using that artificial crumb rubber field for over 13 years, so we are not exposing them to anything other than what they have been playing on for the last 13 years.’ This week, he’s reversed course, stating ‘safety has always been my priority.’ While I’m pleased he finally made the right decision, I wish he had made it sooner. Hamden deserves a representative with the judgment to take the concerns of Hamdenites seriously.”

“We are very pleased that Mayor Leng disregarded the EPA’s flawed studies and chose to rely on scientists, environmentalists, coaches and concerned parents,” said resident Lauren Garrett, an outspoken critic of the crumb rubber synthetic turf who lobbied for a different turf to be used. “This decision sets a precedence that Hamden will use safe products to protect children.”

In the future, municipalities that chose to install the crumb rubber turf will be spending money to get rid of it when it’s definitively proven to be dangerous to student athletes, Garrett predicted.

“In the near future, municipalities will be removing toxic crumb rubber infill at a huge expense,” she said. “Hamden’s Curt Leng is looking out for taxpayers by installing a safe product.”

The new turf proposal will have to go before the Planning and Zoning Commission again for approval, Leng said.-by Kate Ramunni, New Haven Register

Categories: test feeds

Penn State selects AstroTurf for another field

13 hours 27 min ago

One of the nation’s most recognizable football programs is teaming up with one of the world’s most iconic sports brands, again. Penn State’s enormous indoor training facility, Holuba Hall, now sports a brand new premium AstroTurf playing surface. Following this latest installation, five of the school’s six artificial turf fields currently boast AstroTurf synthetic turf systems.

Holuba Hall’s new surface features a high face weight, high-density AstroTurf synthetic turf system with a unique component, Nike infill. Nike Grind is a palette of premium recycled materials used in a variety of settings, including synthetic turf infill, providing sustainability and surface performance. Holuba Hall’s field will be the first of its kind in the Big Ten Conference with Nike Grind infill.

Nike Grind infill is prepared for use in AstroTurf fields through a series of steps. First, excess rubber from the manufacturing of shoes is collected. This rubber conforms to Nike’s stringent quality standards and Restricted Substances List. The rubber is chopped up and properly sized for field drainage and uniformity. Finally the infill is encapsulated with a premium green-colored coating that boosts resiliency and gives AstroTurf fields the consistent and plush appearance athletes want. The amount of Nike Grind infill used is equivalent to the amount of material from recycling more than 100,000 pairs of shoes.

TPK, a Certified AstroTurf Installer out of Allison Park, PA, was responsible for this turf replacement project that began in June. The plan involved reconfiguring the facility from two 80-yard, side-by-side practice fields to one full-size football field. The team at TPK laid over 95,000 square feet of new turf inside Holuba Hall, which was reopened for use last week.

Categories: test feeds

Heat waves bring warnings about synthetic turf risks

August 23, 2016

This summer’s waves of blistering temperatures and oppressive humidity are also bringing renewed warnings about the risks to young athletes playing on super-hot synthetic turf fields.

Synthetic or artificial turf playing fields have become increasingly popular in communities across Connecticut despite activists’ concerns about potential health hazards associated with them. Artificial turf advocates insist they are safer and less expensive to maintain than natural grass fields, but admit that extremely high temperatures can pose problems for anyone playing on them.

The Synthetic Turf Council, an industry group, warns that, “In direct sunlight during the hottest part of the day in the summer months, the upper layer of the synthetic turf that is exposed to the sun’s rays will get significantly hotter than grass.”

Activists who oppose artificial turf are outspoken about what they consider a very serious health threat.

“When temperatures reach 90 degrees, synthetic turf fields have been measured at 165 degrees,” according to Nancy Alderman, president of the North Haven-based nonprofit group Environment and Human Health Inc. She said such temperatures are “dangerous for athletes who play on these fields and especially dangerous for smaller children.”

The Synthetic Turf Council recommends that practices and events on synthetic turf fields be scheduled for cooler hours of the morning or evening during high-temperature summer months, that activities be limited in duration and intensity and that athletes be especially well-hydrated and regularly given breaks.

In towns like Windsor, where the high school’s Jack O’Brien Stadium was refurbished with a synthetic turf field in 2014, officials say they are well aware of the heat risks.

“We’ve had days in August [during pre-season football practice] … when we had to bring everybody inside,” said Steve Risser, Windsor High School’s athletic director. He said school officials monitor heat and humidity at the field when teams are scheduled to practice or play, “and if conditions are that hot, we’re coming inside.”

Cory DeGiacomo is Windsor High School’s certified athletic trainer and does most of the heat monitoring for the school’s synthetic field.

DeGiacomo uses a digital thermometer that can “scan the turf” and record temperatures. He said the general temperature above the field can be as high as 94 degrees and there may not be any problems playing on it as long as the humidity isn’t terrible.

On many hot days, the scanning thermometer shows the temperatures on the artificial turf running about 10 degrees hotter than the air, DeGiacomo said. He said any time the heat and humidity get close to the recommended warning levels, Windsor High officials get athletes off the field.

Non-school teams also use O’Brien Stadium’s synthetic field during the summer and Rich Henderson, Windsor’s assistant director of parks and recreation, said it’s up to the coaches of those teams to monitor the field’s heat and cancel if they consider it too hot.

Bloomfield High School also recently installed a synthetic turf field and officials there say they also closely monitor field temperatures during the hottest months. “Our team has been avoiding the [synthetic] turf on the excessively hot days and we don’t work out until 5 to 6 p.m. anyway,” Bloomfield High School’s director of athletics, Tammy Schondelmayer, said in an email.

Many of the health concerns about synthetic turf are related to the use of ground-up rubber tires – known as crumb rubber – to fill in between the artificial leaves of grass.

Activists point to the fact that the crumb rubber contains numerous chemicals considered potentially toxic or cancerous, and have raised questions about the number of soccer goalies who played on crumb rubber fields and have come down with different forms of cancer. But many government and industry studies found no danger to people playing on crumb rubber fields.

The potential health risks have convinced some Connecticut municipalities and schools to seek other types of artificial fields that don’t use crumb rubber, although those alternatives are often more expensive.

“We didn’t use crumb rubber,” said Patrick T. Hankard, director of facility operations for the South Windsor Board of Education. South Windsor last year spent $1.52 million to install a new synthetic turf field that uses an acrylic-coated sand instead of crumb rubber at the high school.

Hankard said artificial fields get so hot in the summer largely because of the crumb rubber infill, which he called “the primary source of heat.”

“The synthetic sand is a little bit cooler,” Hankard said. “But it’s still hot as heck” during heat waves, he said.

Hamden officials are also opting for a non-crumb rubber type of in-fill for a new artificial baseball field and a multipurpose field being installed in that town.

The alternative infill material is called GeoFill and is made up of sand and other “organic materials,” such as coconut husk and cork, according to town officials. “This infill choice also stays much cooler than other infill choices, allowing for safer and more comfortable playing surface conditions even in hot weather,” Hamden officials said in a news release earlier this month.- Gregory B. Hladky

Categories: test feeds

Pickleball fans clamoring for more courts

August 23, 2016

Pickleball is picking up so much momentum in Dubuque (IA) and the tri-states, participants are lobbying for more courts.

“We’re outgrowing Flora Park very quickly,” active Dubuque player Jay Imhof, 64, said of the four tennis and two volleyball courts that can be adjusted for pickleball. “When we’re playing, we often have eight to 10 people sitting out and waiting.”

Roger Smith, 77, estimates there are 70-90 local players. Many play weekly at regular times, mostly in the mornings.

“Every week we have to lower the nets,” he said. “They’re not true nets. But they work for us. We have fun.”

A lot of Americans of all ages are having similar fun. According to last year’s Sports & Fitness Association’s Participation Report, 2.46 million people were playing the sport, and that number is predicted to eventually reach 8 million – not coincidentally with the aging of baby boomers.

Imhof and Smith know about those numbers, too. They met informally with members of the Dubuque Park Division last week to discuss possible future courts, including some of the tennis courts at Veteran’s Memorial Park.

“They’re very receptive to the idea of partnering in some long-range plans,” Imhof said. “We understand that this isn’t going to happen overnight.”

Pickleball began in 1965 on an island near Seattle when a family was looking for something different and relatively easy to play. They used table tennis paddles and a wiffle ball, and lowered the net on their badminton court.

There is an audible “thwack” every time a wooden pickleball racket hits the plastic, perforated ball. Serves must be underhand, the ball must “double bounce” before volleys and there is a “no volley” zone extending seven feet on either side of the net.

Along with the six courts at Flora, there are six that can be used at the Dubuque Golf & Country Club, two in Asbury and three indoors at the Peosta Community Center.

“It gives another amenity to our members,” said Rich Bugalski, general manager at the Country Club. “There’s been no objection from the tennis players. A lot of former tennis players gravitate toward pickleball,” after they no longer can handle the physical aspects of tennis.

Many locals say they learned about the sport from people who had been to The Villages, an upscale retirement area in Central Florida that has more than 100 pickleball courts.

“You get the same action and great exercise,” Smith said. “It’s very addictive, especially if you’ve played tennis. And, it’s a very social game.”

The sport is popular and growing elsewhere in the tri-states, as well.

“It’s off the charts,” said Sue Young, recreation manager at the Galena (IL) Territory. “We’ve had it here for several years. It’s a multi-generational sport, but most popular in that 50-and-over group.”

The Territory recently constructed three permanent, pickleball-only courts as part of its Marina Flood Mitigation Project. There also are multi-function areas on an outdoor basketball court and in the gym that can be used for pickleball.

Games are being played in the Fennimore, WI Memorial Building on Wednesday nights, and they’re hoping to add Thursday nights to the schedule, according to pickleball player Debra Swim.

And in Platteville, WI recreation coordinator Luke Peters said three indoor courts at the Armory are almost always full with players.

“It’s a pretty amazing sport,” Peters said. “Athletic ability goes into it, but positioning is so much more important than in some sports. Different ages can compete at a very even level.”- by Jim Swenson, Telegraph Herald (Dubuque, IA)

Categories: test feeds

HS conference to stream sports via internet

August 23, 2016

It might not be up there with the Big Ten or SEC networks, at least not yet. But Sangamo Conference athletics will have a lot more visibility on the Internet during the upcoming school year.

Adam Eucker, athletic director at Williamsville High School, said almost all Sangamo Conference football, volleyball and boys and girls basketball games can be seen live for a fee during the 2016-17 school year through the National Federation of High Schools (NFHS) Network.

Eucker said the Sangamo is the first high school conference in the country to offer an across-the-board viewing package on the NFHS Network.

With the addition of Maroa-Forsyth this year, the Sangamo’s football schedule is comprised entirely of league games. Eucker said volleyball and basketball viewing will be limited to conference games only.

“We decided to band together as a conference to promote our kids and our sports,” Eucker said. “It’s also a way for families with ties to the conference to be able to watch if they don’t live in the area anymore.

“There’s a number of ways you can watch, including your computer, a mobile device or your iPad.”

Riverton is out

The only exception will be Riverton home games. Riverton athletic director Jamie Toland said the school district decided against doing live streaming of home games this year due to a combination of financial and manpower concerns.

“When we’re having to reduce positions and making cutbacks, it just wasn’t in the financial interest of the (school) district at this time,” Toland said. “We were also struggling to find people to do it.

“You can’t just have anyone do it. These people will be on the air and they have to be reliable and accountable.”

But Toland added that Riverton is excited about having its teams get exposure for away games.

“It’s a great program,” Toland said. “We’re thankful to be in a conference that’s doing this. We might revisit it in a year.”

Eucker said he understood Riverton’s situation, although a basic broadcast team could consist of as few as three people: someone manning the camera, someone running a video board and a broadcaster.

As for the financial commitment, Eucker said Williamsville went “high end” when it began putting Bullets’ games on the Internet three years ago. The cost came to about $7,000, although the investment for some districts could be as little as $80 assuming the district already has a camera and a computer that runs Windows access.

“It’s a good investment from a public relations standpoint,” Eucker said. “It’s a good way to promote kids and programs. A school should get more out of it than what it paid initially.”

Eucker said it’s possible a game could be shown without an actual broadcaster, but “the last time we talked as a conference, the goal was to have a live broadcaster for all the games.”

Packages available

Several subscription packages are available: $10 for a month, $35 for four months or $60 for one year – covering 365 days from the date of purchase. Viewers can subscribe by going to www.nfhsnetwork.com.

“They can enter in the school they’re following or by entering in ‘Sangamo Conference,'” he said. “They can watch any (Sangamo) games regardless of what school they follow.

“Regardless of what schools have the most subscriptions, we’ll profit share as a conference for the first year.”- by Dave Kane, The State Journal- Register (Springfield, IL)

Categories: test feeds

Environmental Leadership Award application now available

August 23, 2016

Applications for the 2016 GCSAA/Golf Digest Environmental Leaders in Golf Awards (ELGAs) are now open! These awards recognize golf course superintendents and golf courses around the world for their commitment to environmental stewardship.

We ask that you apply for the ELGAs at www.gcsaa.org/elga to let GCSAA recognize your outstanding achievements. Applications are due September 30th, 2016. The GCSAA/Golf Digest Environmental Leaders in Golf Awards are generously sponsored by Rain Bird and Syngenta through the Environmental Institute for Golf.

Categories: test feeds

Dolphins install Platinum TE paspalum

August 16, 2016

The super-synthetic strain of grass that rolled onto the Dolphins’ stadium field Tuesday didn’t exist a decade ago.

The turf is called Platinum TE Paspalum, a tough, shade-tolerant (and more expensive) vintage used more on golf courses than football fields.

On Monday, pallets of this elite sod arrived in South Florida from a grow farm in South Alabama via 27 truck beds. And on Tuesday, that sod reached its final destination:

The no-longer-rocky ground inside the Dolphins’ modernized stadium, a plot of land that just weeks ago was a parking lot for cranes.

Two-thirds of the field was put down Tuesday; the rest will go in Wednesday.

“Well, that’s exciting …” CEO Tom Garfinkel wrote on Twitter with a picture of the sod rolling in place.

Todd Boyan, the Dolphins’ senior vice president of stadium operations, was the point man on this project, one that began some 18 months ago. His task: find a NFL-compliant grass that can grow under a 14-acre shade canopy, the crown jewel of the half-billion-dollar renovation project.

Most grass, like the Bermuda that was used for decades at the stadium, needs direct sun exposure to grow. That won’t be possible with the canopy, particularly in the fall and winter months.

So Boyan had to find a new option, one safe and durable enough to withstand the rigors of an NFL season, that could grow in the shade, that could be mass-produced and that the players would enjoy cutting (and landing) on.

The Dolphins decided on Platinum TE Paspalum, a genetically modified strain that can grow on plastic, allowing for a tougher, longer-lasting roots. The Dolphins have been practicing on it at their Davie headquarters during training camp, and will play on it Sept. 1 — their first (and only) preseason home game.

“The players seem to like it,” Boyan said. “I think this is something that will definitely be received well.”

This week’s sod installation is just the latest sign that the renovation project will be done on time.

Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, who is self-funding the project, pledged last week that the stadium would be ready by Sept. 1. The University of Miami’s home opener two days later will not be moved, either, the team insists.

On Monday, fans got a behind-the-scenes look at the progress. Via social media, Garfinkel posted a 360-degree photo from the stadium’s 50-yard line, which showed that work on the canopy is all but finished. Last Friday, construction workers signed the project’s final steel beam before lifting it into place.

Categories: test feeds

High schools continue to see synthetic as maintenance-free option that brings in $$

August 16, 2016

Work crews of four and five men unfurled heavy, spooled sheets of green artificial turf this past week at East Chambers High School (TX) the latest of 10 area football programs to opt for synthetic fields over natural grass.

For some districts, like Lumberton, turf is a money-saver because fake grass never needs to be mowed or watered. Players and coaches in other districts, including Central High School‘s Toby Foreman, say playing on synthetic turf allows for more consistent plays and cuts down on injuries.

Nearly all of the districts with artificial turf fields said one of the best perks is the ability to rent out their stadiums during the playoffs.

“I’ve been hoping we would go this direction for some time and we were finally able to find the funding,” said East Chambers athletic director and football coach Russ Sutherland on Thursday. “It cleans the facility up and makes us marketable for hosting playoff games. It’s something we already do for basketball and volleyball, and now we are able to add this option.”

East Chambers, which has about 416 students enrolled in the district’s high school, spent $981,000 to renovate the field at Buccaneer Stadium.

Superintendent Scott Campbell said the new field could save the district up to $20,000 in annual maintenance fees, which include fertilization, watering, mowing and repainting.

With the addition of high school soccer to the district’s list of sports this coming school year, Campbell said keeping the grass maintained year round was becoming an “impossible task.”

Campbell said he expects the field renovations will entice other districts looking for neutral places for football and soccer playoff games to come calling, the same way the district’s new gymnasium did in 2008 for basketball.

“It was a boon for our community when we built that gym,” Campbell said. “When you host these playoff games, it brings more people into Winnie. They eat at our restaurants, stay at hotels.”

Rental fees for the stadium have not been set, Campbell said, but he expects the price to be around $2,000 to $3,000 per game — a fee that is split between the two schools renting the facility.

That cost is relatively low compared to the $6,000 to $8,000 that Campbell said East Chambers paid to use the New Caney stadium during the first round of the playoffs last year.

Tractors and work equipment still lined the 3,500-capacity East Chambers stadium late last week, but Sutherland said he thought the installation work would be completed a full week before his team hosts Kelly Catholic High School in the school’s Aug. 26 home-opener.

“It’s just nice to see some progress,” said Sutherland, whose program joins Hardin and Hitchcock as the only three school districts with synthetic turf fields in District 12-3A-I.

Hardin, with a high school enrollment of around 339 students, spent $700,000 in 2009 on a turf field for Hornet Stadium.

“We love having it,” said Hardin superintendent Brandon Peavy. “It’s always available for athletics or our fine art programs regardless of the weather. The maintenance needs are also very limited.”

Field rentals

Jasper athletic director and head football coach Darrell Barbay said the completion in 2015 of the district’s $5.4 million athletic complex, which includes artificial turf fields for every sport, made his school an attractive host for softball and baseball teams statewide looking for dry playoff locations during a rainy May.

In a span of 31 days, Barbay said he watched more than 40 games played on both fields, allowing the district to make thousands of dollars in rental fees.

Rental fees for the softball and baseball fields are $600 apiece and the football field can be rented out for $3,500, according to Barbay.

The rates do not cover custodial and security fees or the service fees for utilities.

“Look, you’re never going to make $5.4 million from letting people rent your facilities,” Barbay said. “But we really want people to come use them, and come to our town. When schools come to play here, they bring lots of people. People who eat at our restaurants and stimulate the local economy.”

Connie King, owner of Smitty’s Smoke House in Jasper, said she sees her profits increase by as much as 25 percent a day when the high school hosts athletic events.

“It’s definitely been a boost to our economy and the recognition our local businesses get from people who may not usually come into town,” King said.

The turf installation at Jasper’s football stadium was completed ahead of the 2015 season, but there weren’t enough seats to accommodate varsity games. Middle school, freshman and junior varsity games were held at the new Bulldog Stadium while the varsity team continued to play home games at the old Alamo Stadium.

Barbay said the new bleachers will likely not be ready for his team’s Aug. 26 home-opener against Little Cypress-Mauriceville, but he said he plans to coach his first home game on the turf on Sept. 16 against Bryan-Rudder.

“It’s kind of like building a house,” Barbay said. “You know you are going to get one eventually, and although you’re impatient, you want to make sure it’s right before you move in.”

Maintenance savings

In Lumberton, the synthetic turf installation this summer stemmed from a larger need to replace the surrounding track, which was in decay after 15 years of use.

Because of a steady stream in revenue and low interest rates, Superintendent John Valastro said the initial budget of $500,000 for the track was increased to $1.25 million, with school board approval, to cover the costs of the new turf.

Valastro said it became prudent for the district to invest in synthetic turf because the school’s stadium hosts anywhere from 200 to 300 events during the calendar year, including youth and high school football, boys’ and girls’ soccer, and cheerleading, dance team and band practices.

“Around 1,000 kids spend time on that field every year,” said Lumberton athletic director and football coach Chris Babin, who said his team plans to use the turf field for the first time on Monday. “The damage that does with grass, our groundskeeper couldn’t keep up with it. You think about it, it’s not just football – everyone uses that field.”

The plan, Valastro said, is not to get the money back by renting out the facility, but “to improve the viability, longevity and ease of being able to maintain the amount of events the field hosts.”

Valastro said where the district will save money in the long run is when the synthetic turf has to be replaced.

Lumberton was given a 12-year guarantee on the turf and a $200,000 replacement offer, he said. The cost to replace turf in 13 years will average about what the district would have spent in that time on a grass field’s maintenance and upkeep, he said.

Advantage for athletes

In addition to saving or making districts money, artificial turf fields can also provide a competitive advantage to athletes who use it, according to players and coaches.

“It’s so hard to run and cut on the grass when it gets wet because it gets all muddy,” said Lumberton senior linebacker Keaton Upshaw. “I’m definitely excited to get out there and see what the turf is like.”

Central head coach Toby Foreman said his team practices on a grass field outside of the high school, but plays on a synthetic turf field at the Carrol A. “Butch” Thomas Center.

Foreman said in his experience, synthetic turf limits the number of ankle injuries during games, especially when there is inclement weather.

“As you know, it rains a lot in Southeast Texas,” Foreman said. “When your field gets soggy, your cleats will not give as much on the grass. There is plenty of give on the turf.”

Foreman said in his four years at Central that he has seen more injuries at practice on the grass than during games on the turf.

In the nine-team District 22-5A, only Vidor, Nederland and Livingston will play home football games on grass this season.

Port Neches-Groves, also in that district, was the first school in the area to install artificial turf in 2008. Beaumont ISD followed suit when the district built the $47 million Thomas Center in 2010. Memorial High School installed turf at its renovated stadium the same year.

Nederland assistant superintendent Mike Laird said the district does not currently have the funds to install turf at Bulldog Stadium, but said if there was that there is no guarantee the district would make the switch.

“Turf is definitely less expensive than grass annually, but you have to think about what happens when that turf wears out and you have to replace it,” Laird said. “That’s a really big expense you have to prepare for down the line.”

Vidor athletic director Jeff Mathews said if he could, he’d start installing an artificial field tomorrow.

“But you have to be a team player,” he siad. “I’m sure when the district is in a position to afford something like turf, it’s a discussion we’ll be able to have.

“Sometimes you just don’t get everything you want.”

DThompson@BeaumontEnterprise.com Twitter.com/daveth89

 

Categories: test feeds

Following up HOF game cancellation

August 16, 2016

Cancelling the Football Hall of Fame game August 7 was an embarrassment for the National Football League and the league probably should have been more involved in installing the field, which was to be used just one time, for this game, as the stadium in Canton undergoes renovation. Here are some reports from various news outlets following the cancellation:

NFL players have expressed concerns regarding the playing surface in Canton the past few years, and Baker said a new playing surface was installed prior to this year’s game.

Steve Wyche of NFL.com reported Monday that the field was brought to Canton from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, where it was used for just one season.

“This is something that we have to get to the bottom of,” Baker said Sunday on the field to members of the media. “This is certainly something we are going to have to get right. We will bring in all the experts we need to get this right.

“I do know that the [NFL] Commissioner [Roger Goodell] and [Dallas Cowboys owner] Jerry Jones left here, and I think everyone left here understanding the value of the hall of fame, understanding the value of this game to kick off the season.

“I’d like to think that this was a spectacular weekend — maybe the best hall of fame weekend ever — and that it was punctuated not by something that was just embarrassing and disappointing, but something that was punctuated by the very essence of showing what we stand for, and that is respect for the players and their safety.”

Baker acknowledged that he was “embarrassed and extremely disappointed” Sunday, and then said “we are going to get it right. I promise you.”

Baker was asked who was responsible for the painting of logos on the field.

“It’s the hall of fame contract with the folks who established the field, and then the NFL has to do the testing to make sure it’s appropriate,” he said. “In the end, we want to err on the side of personal safety so, like I said, hard decision financially, hard decision public relations-wise, but a easy decision ethically, I think.”

Baker estimated the cancellation of the game cost the hall of fame $4 million in revenue.

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told the Canton Repository’s Joe Scalzo on Monday that “There has been absolutely no discussions about moving the Hall of Fame Game out of Canton in the future.”

Colts owner Jim Irsay spoke with ESPN on Sunday and said having a game canceled because of poor field conditions on a synthetic turf on a nice night was unacceptable.

“This shouldn’t happen,” Irsay told ESPN. “It’s not difficult. Obviously, everyone out there says, ‘You’re a $12-billion league. How can you have a field not ready to go?’ Well, the hall of fame is sort of separate and gets run a little different from the league.

“We’ll have to get it right so it never happens again. … Yes, we’re upset. … We have to make it right to our fans and also get to the bottom of exactly who got this paint job done and why was there incompetence.”

The last NFL game to be canceled because of poor field conditions was a 2001 preseason contest between the host Philadelphia Eagles and the Baltimore Ravens at Veterans Stadium.

“It sucks, but the conditions of the field weren’t safe for any player on either roster,” Colts linebacker D’Qwell Jackson told NFL.com writer Michael Silver on Sunday.

Silver, NFL.com writer Ian Rapoport and ESPN reporter Adam Schefter were the first to report Sunday that members of the Colts and Packers were concerned about the field.

The NFL and the NFL Players Association issued a joint statement Sunday that included a comment about being “disappointed for our fans, but player safety is our primary concern.” ESPN television analysts Chris Berman, Jon Gruden and Sean McDonough said they were surprised that raised paint would force a game to be canceled.

“There were a lot of young players that needed this opportunity,” Gruden said. “It might have been their only opportunity to showcase their stuff. These hall of famers deserve a lot better because there are eight great inductees, too.”

McDonough pointed out that Packers third-string quarterback Joe Callahan was set to start in place of Aaron Rodgers and Brett Hundley, who were dealing with minor injuries.

“Joe Callahan was going to have this opportunity, and now he might [not] get it going forward,” McDonough said.

Benson Hall of Fame Stadium has new seating on the north and west sides of the venue, and new seating will be installed on the south and east sides. New artificial turf will be included next year as part of the Hall of Fame Village remodeling project that features eight phases, including a hotel, retail spaces and other amenities at a cost of $500 million.

Wyche reported Monday that all logos will be stitched into the surface so there will not be any issues, such as hard, slick and uneven portions on the field.

“I thought it was a joke at first, honestly,” Colts quarterback Andrew Luck told ESPN’s Lisa Salters. “Sort of like a pull-your-leg preseason type of a joke. I understand that someone had to make a very tough decision, and I respect that. But I know I’m disappointed. I wanted to get back on the field.”

Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or mbeaven@thebeaconjournal.com.

 

Hall of Fame Game between Packers, Colts canceled

Zak Keefer, USA TODAY Sports

The NFL season didn’t kick off Sunday night after all.

Poor field conditions at Tom Benson Stadium prompted the cancellation of the NFL’s annual Hall of Fame Game. Thus the Indianapolis Colts and Green Bay Packers will only play four preseason games, like every other team.

“Due to safety concerns with the condition of the playing surface in Canton, tonight’s game between the Indianapolis Colts and Green Bay Packers has been cancelled,” read a joint statement from the NFL and players union. “We are very disappointed for our fans, but player safety is our primary concern, and as a result, we could not play an NFL game on this field tonight.”

Apparently, portions of the Hall of Fame logo in the middle of the field melted, causing concern that players’ cleats would stick.

“This is a very, very difficult decision for us today,” Hall of Fame president David Baker said on ESPN. “But we think it’s the only decision that can be made.”

After a long deliberation that included Colts general manager Ryan Grigson and Packers general manager Ted Thompson, everyone was asked to leave the field around 6:30 p.m. ET, roughly 90 minutes before kickoff. Fans were  allowed to enter the stadium after a delay, but were not told about the cancellation of the game until Baker addressed them at 8 p.m, nearly 75 minutes after the players were told.

“As a result of some painting on the field today, some questions arose about player safety,” Baker told the fans. “We talked to both sets of players. I can tell you — I had a son who played in this league — if it had happened with him on the field, I would’ve wanted somebody to make the same decision.”

Baker said there will be a “full refund policy” announced on Monday by the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Even with the cancellation, the Colts cheerleaders performed, the Hall of Fame Class of 2016, including Packers legend Brett Favre and former Colts coach Tony Dungy and receiver Marvin Harrison, was introduced, and singer Lee Greenwood performed.

Both Colts and Packers players took the field in shorts around the the time the game would have kicked off as part of an ad hoc fan fest.

“A very, very difficult decision for us today,” Baker told ESPN. “I think this happened in Philadelphia one time, I think it happened one other time, they learned from it, we’ll learn from it. We’re going to make sure this never happens again.”

“A lot of fans came a long way,” he said. “But this is the only decision that could be made.”

“In some respects it’s a hard decision,” he added, “but it’s an easy ethical decision.”

The crews stopped working on the field around 7 p.m., just before ESPN announced on air that the game had been canceled.

The Colts will return to Anderson, Ind., for the final three days of training camp this week. The team will open the 2016 preseason next Saturday against the Buffalo Bills. The Packers are scheduled to host the Cleveland Browns on Friday.

The Hall of Fame Game was last cancelled in 2011, a victim of the collective bargaining negotiations during the lockout.

Keefer writes for The Indianapolis Star, part of the USA TODAY NETWORK

 

CANTON, Ohio — Sunday’s NFL preseason-opening Hall of Fame game between the Green Bay Packers and Indianapolis Colts has been canceled due to concerns over the condition of the playing surface, the league announced.

Both teams complained about the artificial turf surface at the newly renovated Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, which had hosted a Tim McGraw concert Friday in addition to the weekend’s induction ceremony.

Though the field was covered, the pressure of thousands of people standing on the surface did too much damage. After talking with each other at midfield, Packers coach Mike McCarthy and Colts coach Chuck Pagano agreed to not play the game.

“If we don’t stand for integrity, how can we represent the game?” Hall of Fame president David Baker told ESPN. “This was a very difficult decision or us.”

The biggest area of concern was near the midfield Hall of Fame logo, which was recently painted and was still too slick for the coaches to trust players’ traction.

Before the official word was announced, stadium staff had been telling fans the game was canceled.

The stadium, which was built in 1938, has a new, temporary turf after Pittsburgh Steelers kicker Shaun Suisham tore the ACL in his plant leg in last year’s Hall of Fame game.

The Hall replaced the turf with the synthetic surface formerly used at the Superdome in New Orleans. It will be replaced over the next year with a permanent surface as the stadium undergoes a major renovation.

The Colts and Packers were already wary of playing a fifth preseason game. The Packers were sitting both starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers and backup Brett Hundley. The Colts were unlikely to send Andrew Luck out onto the field.

Stadium workers toiled through the night to dismantle the four stages set up on the field lift the protective surface on the turf. But the rubber pellets embedded in the field turf did not have enough time to recover were easily seen through the synthetic green grass. Because the pellets had not settled, the surface was “hard as concrete,” according to ESPN.com.

“It sucks but the conditions of the field weren’t safe for any player on either roster,” Colts linebacker D’Qwell Jackson told Sports Illustrated.

Tickets for the game state “no refund,” but Baker said fans would be refunded their money.

Since the game was first played in 1962, it had been canceled just once — following the 2011 lockout. It was also ended early in 1980 and 2003 because of lightning. Both of those games also involved the Packers.

Omnisport’s Brandon Schlager contributed to this report.

Categories: test feeds

Court rejects attempt to legalize sports betting

August 16, 2016

Sports-betting fans in New Jersey may finally have run out of luck.

A federal appeals court rejected the state’s attempt to legalize sports betting for the third time in three years.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, ruling in Philadelphia, said that the state’s initiative to legalize sports betting at casinos and race tracks – an effort to revitalize the faltering casino industry – breached the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which banned sports betting in all but a handful of states.

“States may not use clever drafting . . . to escape the supremacy of federal law,” the court said in its majority opinion, written by Judge Marjorie Rendell.

A spokesman for state Senate President Stephen Sweeney said state lawyers were still reviewing the decision, and hadn’t made a decision about what steps, if any, New Jersey would take.

Given that the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an earlier appeal, the ruling would seem to foreclose further legal maneuvers to revive the fortunes of sports gambling in New Jersey.

Indeed, during oral arguments in the case in February, seemingly exasperated justices peppered Theodore Olson, a former solicitor general who represented New Jersey, with questions, with some voicing open skepticism.

“We’re on what, the fourth or fifth iteration of New Jersey trying to do it [sports gambling],” Judge Kent Jordan asked.

New Jersey voters amended the state constitution in 2011 to permit sports betting at struggling casinos and racetracks while barring wagers on New Jersey college teams or on any collegiate event in the state.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association, the National Basketball Association, the National Football League, and others sued to prevent sport gambling in New Jersey from going forward.

The PASPA, enacted in 1992, limited sports betting to Nevada, Montana, Delaware, and Oregon. It also gave New Jersey the opportunity to enact a law authorizing sports betting in the state through 1993, but the state failed to do so.

In its opinion, the Third Circuit court acknowledged, as it has in the past, that New Jersey faces tough times from the decline of the casino industry.

But the appeals court said that the PASPA’s meaning was unequivocal and that no amount of legal or legislative finesse could overcome its restrictions.

The case turned on a technical argument over New Jersey’s proposed regulatory scheme for overseeing sports betting. After New Jersey residents voted to amend the state constitution in 2011, the state legislature enacted a detailed regulatory scheme for overseeing sports betting.

A federal district judge overturned that plan, and in 2012, the Third Circuit court affirmed. The state responded by eliminating all state laws governing sports betting in New Jersey, effectively deregulating the industry. The state’s lawyers argued that although PASPA barred states from authorizing sports betting, nothing in the law kept it from declining to regulate the industry.

A three-judge panel of the Third Circuit court found last August that the law was a back door means for permitting sports betting. The full court agreed to rehear the case last year, and issued its opinion on Tuesday.- The Philadelphia Inquirer

cmondics@phillynews.com

Categories: test feeds

STMA sponsorships available for 2017 Conference

August 9, 2016

STMA will be holding its 2017 annual conference at Disney Coronado Springs Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. on Jan. 24-27. Exhibitor booths are filling up fast and so are sponsorship opportunities! Sponsorship is a great way to get your company’s brand front and center for all attendees to see.

STMA extensively recognizes its sponsors in a number of different ways including SportsTurf Magazine, attendee brochure, conference on-site guide, conference signage, in general sessions and many more.

STMA also has multiple channels for sponsorship outside of the conference, such as the Awards Program, Chapter Program and Membership Directory.

For more information about available sponsorship availabilities please contact Eric Maydew, Business Development Manager for STMA at emaydew@stma.org or 800-323-3875.

Categories: test feeds

How UW-Madison managed rec field project responsibly

August 9, 2016

When we first told the campus community that we were interested in installing a synthetic turf system over 300,000 square feet that is known on campus as the “Near West Fields,” the initial reaction by many was one of shock. After all, it was a very large space to consider doing such a project; almost 9 acres total. It hadn’t been done to this magnitude on the campus before, and not at all for the 98% of students that are not Division I athletes. More importantly, the site is located in the Lakeshore Nature Preserve, an area around the shores of Lake Mendota on the southeast portion of campus. We knew entering into this project the conversations were going to be very sensitive about this idea, and in order to move it forward, we had to embrace the environment in addition to all of the programmatic considerations. In short, we had to do our research and homework and be able to provide answers to every question about how this project could impact the campus and its surroundings, positively or negatively.

Do your research!

As we started our research, there were some key findings that we felt we could positively impact the campus and we felt the need to tell that story early on in the process. As we studied the benefits that could be gained with a new synthetic turf system, we needed to address the present-day issues we currently deal with every year.

Storm Water: To say the natural grass site drained poorly would be an understatement. A few tenths of an inch of water would regularly knock out at least one full day of play — if not two. Any more than that and we knew we would have to let the students know their games would be cancelled for the majority of that week to allow the fields to dry out. As we studied the synthetic turf project, the process of removing the organic soil before installing the sub-base for the turf allowed us to consider a storm water retention system under the field. Through an Environmental Impact Study, we learned this system could withstand greater than a 100-year rain event before water ever pooled on the synthetic turf system. It also allowed for controlled discharge into nearby retention ponds, and ultimately into Lake Mendota. This benefitted not only our turf facility, but also the surrounding areas of campus, as the retention ponds serve as storm water sites for the surrounding landscape and facilities as well.

Light Spill: Synthetic Turf wasn’t the only upgrade to this site, as we also studied lighting and how it impacted adjacent buildings and the “night sky” around the field. The present-day system of shaded metal halide lights on 80-90 foot light poles was visible and impactful to adjacent facilities, including a large greenhouse just south of our site. We worked with our vendor to study how much spill this lighting system created, and then studied how we could not only improve the lighting for our participants on the new surface, but also decrease the light spill into the surrounding facilities and improve our night sky compliance to the community. We learned from this study that the addition of a shaded LED light system would significantly increase safety to our participants on the field by increasing the foot candles for night play, and also significantly decrease — and almost completely eliminate — spill to the nearby facilities and landscape. The addition of LED lights to this project became a must for us, and will be a win-win for the participants, campus, and surrounding environment.

Turf System: Our students have complained for years about the condition of our natural grass fields on the campus. Regardless of how much funding we put into a maintenance plan to keep the grass growing, it just has not worked. We do not have enough space, and within the first few weeks of the semester, what grass we could grow in the short off-season turns to solid dirt. We knew that in order to meet the program demands of the students, we had to consider a synthetic turf system. But could we do it responsibly? Could we meet the responsibility to the environment? We felt we could, but needed to spend many months doing our research to answer those questions. In the end, we also did an Environmental Impact Study to make sure we met those expectations. Anyone that has paid attention to the debate surrounding SBR (crumb rubber) knows that there has been a lot of controversy that surrounds this product on synthetic turf. While there have not been any significant findings to date about the negative impacts of SBR, we wanted to be proactive from the start and ensure the campus we were committed to finding the most environmentally friendly system possible. Given the close proximity to the lake and the Lakeshore Nature Preserve, we also wanted to make sure that we had a system that would not allow the migration of any infill product to the surrounding retention ponds and lake. It became apparent early on that we wanted to avoid any controversy at all costs, and started down the road of researching all non-SBR products for our system. Our goals for this infill were created and documented as:

  • Safety: The safety of our participants is paramount. With the increased attention and focus on head trauma, we were very intentional about studying the pad under the turf and those options, the turf itself, and the infill. Our goal was to have the safest system possible for our participants.
  • Overall playability: We knew this facility would have multiple activities, including flag football, lacrosse, rugby, soccer, softball and baseball and wanted the activities to play as naturally as possible. This was key in our research.
  • Environmentally Responsible: We wanted a system that would stand up in an Environmental Impact Study as not impactful to the surrounding area. We asked questions about all types of infill on how it could impact animals, fish and humans alike. We even went as far as to do water tests to see which alternative infills floated to see if that infill could drift off the site. We also studied if the infill would be harmful if swallowed.

In the end, we wrote the specifications in our RFP to address all of these issues to get the safest, most environmentally safe, and most playable system for our participants.

Communication, communication, communication

At UW-Madison and like many universities, the approval process to do a project like the Near West Playfield Upgrade is extensive. We were required to present to many groups and receive approvals, including: Campus Planning Committee (twice), Joint West Committee (four times), Board of Regents (twice), UW System (multiple conversations), State Building Commission (twice), and Friends of the Lakeshore Nature Preserve. In addition to that, we took it upon ourselves to offer up, in some cases repeated presentations to our student government committees, student organizations, sport club programs, university departments, community groups, the Madison Sports Commission, and many others we could list. Our goal was to get out in front of the communication. We wanted to address all questions and concerns, and make sure the entire campus community was educated and prepared for the project. We feel strongly our willingness to communicate our master plan has been a driving force behind its momentum. – by John Horn is the director of the Division of Recreational Sports at the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

Categories: test feeds

Parks department finds efficiency in online sign-ups

August 9, 2016

From men’s flag football to dog obedience programs to youth volleyball, the city of the Abilene (TX) Parks & Recreation Department has made online registration for activities, facilities rental and memberships easier and more personalized.

The new registration system, Active Network, allows participants a chance to register 24 hours a day via mobile devices by creating an account and then engaging in a process similar to online shopping.

For example, one can add an event or membership to an online “cart,” then pay for it as one would any other online purchase, said recreation administrator Jeff White.

“It makes our staff more efficient,” White said of the new system, removing the need for a physical registration and helping recreation staff more easily coordinate and collate information.

Those interested in the recreation department’s offerings can search by program, age, date, location or time, he said. To access the registration system, go to www.abilenetx.com/ parksandrec and select the “Sign Up” button.

Residents can register and pay for more than one program or membership at a time. Participants can add upcoming activities to a “wish list,” and the cloud-based software can send an email to remind them when registration for a particular activity becomes available.

Residents can see monthly calendars of available activities, print information from the site, or add family members to an activity or membership “at the convenience of their schedule,” White said.

The software should allow the city to provide a greater level of customer service, White said, allowing recreation and other city staff to log in remotely on tablets or other devices should there be a repair needed or to deal with an issue requiring rapid resolution.

The change is the culmination of a yearlong process, recreation staff considering a number of programs before choosing Active Network, he said.

“Not only will it do activities or programs, it will also do facilities (reservation),” he said of the software. “We wanted a lot of capability to kind of try to encompass everything we do in Parks & Recreation.”

The software also has Facebook, Twitter and other integrated methods to share information about one’s own registration or to help market a particular program.

Response from residents so far has been positive, White said.

“It’s just a couple of clicks or taps on a keyboard and it’s ready to go,” he said. – Abilene Reporter-News (Texas)

Categories: test feeds

Narrow dimensions prevent soccer exhibition at Camp Randall Stadium

August 9, 2016

There can be big money in hosting international soccer exhibitions at American sports stadiums, but for the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Camp Randall Stadium doesn’t measure up.

In field size, anyway.

Camp Randall has an 80,000-plus seating capacity that might be attractive to a promoter looking for a location for one of the summertime games between popular European teams that are annually staged in the U.S.

But soccer’s rules on the minimum size of the field don’t give Camp Randall much of a chance at landing such an event.

Camp Randall can handle the 110- to 120-yard length of an international-level soccer field, but the 70- to 80-yard width would put the corners a few rows into the seating areas.

“In the last 10 years it might have come up once or twice,” said UW assistant athletic director for event operations Todd Nelson. “And each time when we start talking about field size, they’re like, oh, thanks for trying but…”

On Wednesday, Ohio State’s Ohio Stadium drew an announced crowd of 86,641 fans for a game between Spanish power Real Madrid and French champion Paris Saint-Germain, who are ramping up to the start of their regular seasons.

A temporary grass surface was installed over the artificial turf in Columbus, and the teams approved playing on a field that was only around 68 yards wide, according to the Columbus Dispatch.

An American football field is 120 yards long by 53 yards wide.

“It depends what type of game it is or what organization is putting it on,” Nelson said. “Some will say, forget it, you have to do the international-size field. And some will say, well, we can do a waiver and cut it down. Even if we cut it down, it doesn’t work out.”

The game in Columbus and others in the International Champions Cup are being promoted by New York-based Relevent Sports. Other U.S. locations for 2016 games include Autzen Stadium, home of the University of Oregon’s football team in Eugene, and Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor.

In 2014, the University of Michigan was paid $2.6 million for a 16-day lease of its stadium by Relevent, according to Crain’s Detroit Business. That game drew an announced 109,318, the largest crowd ever to watch a soccer game in the U.S.

This year, Michigan is getting a $500,000 rental fee, according to the Ann Arbor News, plus a share of revenues. Oregon’s contract with Relevent had amounts redacted when released to the Register-Guard of Eugene.

In 2014 and 2015, Milwaukee’s Miller Park transformed from a baseball stadium into a soccer venue for exhibitions between English and Mexican teams. That field was only 66 yards wide, with sod covering portions of the baseball infield and the pitcher’s mound removed.

Camp Randall, meanwhile, hasn’t been a soccer venue since the Big Ten Conference ruled in 1984 that football fields couldn’t also have soccer lines. The Badgers had played on the narrow Astroturf field until the rule change forced them to move to Breese Stevens Field. – The Capital Times (Madison, Wisconsin)

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1st facility achieves STMA Environmental Facility Certification

August 2, 2016

STMA announces that the Red Bull Training Facility in East Hanover, NJ, is the first facility to receive Certification for Environmentally Responsible Management. This is a new program that STMA has been developing for 4 years and rolled it out to the membership in June.

Submitted by Zachary Holm on behalf of his team, Dan Shemesh, Neal Sitzman, and Dylan Martin, The Red Bull Training Facility achieved the 80% or higher ratings on the 10-part written assessment to qualify to have the facility attested. Dr. Doug Linde subsequently completed the attesting and validated that environmental management practices are in place at the training facility.

To find out how you can receive certification for your facility, click here.

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Gateway STMA Chapter seeking help in field renovation project

August 2, 2016

In cooperation with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Athletic League (PAL), the Gateway Chapter of the Sports Turf Managers Association is renovating the baseball and softball fields at Dellwood Park in north St. Louis County. This event will take place Wednesday, September 14. The chapter is in need of donated materials or funds.

How can you help?

Materials needed include: four sets of base anchors and two sets of bases (Safety 1st brand); seed for 2 acres of outfield; infield conditioner or improved infield mix; drag mat; base anchor tool; starter and fall fertilizer for 2 acres; chalk and field paint; portable outfield fencing; backstop mats; rakes; and tampers.

Prep work needed includes applying glysophate to infields; laser-grading infields; and possibly irrigation.

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Do you know this stadium?

August 2, 2016

The Sports Turf Managers Association’s Historical Committee needs your help to identify the stadium in the accompanying photo. If you know anything about this stadium, please contact STMAinfo@STMA.org.

This is just one of the many historical images they are working to categorize. Now their daunting task is much more manageable thanks to a generous donation from Pioneer Athletics and additional funding authorized by the STMA Board of Directors.

Tasked with reviewing tens of thousands of slides amassed from collections of members and prominent academics, the Committee recommended to the STMA Board in 2015 that it authorize funding, in addition to Pioneer’s donation, to outsource the scanning of the entire collection. The Board approved funding at its Fall 2015 meeting.

The scanning process took nearly three months to complete. Post scanning, a temporary employee was hired to transfer data from the slide jacket to the electronic scan. The collection was then segmented into approximately 100 images per group. The Committee works on one group at a time through a file sharing service, first determining whether or not an image is significant to the profession or to the association. The images that are significant are then further identified by what/who is in them and then each image is uploaded to a PowerPoint slide where more information is added in the Speaker Notes section.

This may seem a bit laborious, but the process is really very streamlined. Imagine if the Committee had to load each slide into a slide projector to view or lay them on a light table and look through a magnifier!

Ultimately, the Committee plans to have an electronic “museum” where members can access the photos.

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First driverless, fully autonomous fairway mower

August 2, 2016

TURFLYNX wants to make a future of mobile robots and information-based solutions for field keeping activities a reality today. We brought to market the first fully autonomous golf course fairway mower.

TURFLYNX’s vision of a mobile-robot and information-based future has resulted in our first product: the F315 autonomous triplex fairway mower.

We currently work hard in the development and marketing of robotic solutions for golf courses and sports fields using mobile robotics technology.

TURFLYNX developed the first autonomous and driverless fairway mower available on the market. A solution tailored to be cost-effective, autonomous, silent and environmentally friendly, with a special focus in reducing the maintenance costs on Golf Courses, addressing the needs of Managers and Greenkeepers, but also guided towards the improvement of the environment and to higher quality standards of the playable area.

Please check the following links with information:

 

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International Resources

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