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Updated: 7 min 32 sec ago

Research shows drones could help crop management take off

November 21, 2017

Unmanned aerial systems (UAS), commonly referred to as drones, could help farmers determine if their crop is growing satisfactorily, according to a recent study conducted by University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture researchers.
The study evaluated the ability of a UAS to accurately and precisely determine plant populations of cotton. Producers routinely assess plant populations early in the growing season to determine the state of their crop – and what management decisions are needed to ensure an optimal harvest. This is most often done by counting the number of plants within a selected distance and repeating those counts in different locations throughout the field to find an average.
“This traditional approach is reliant upon a highly uniform plant population across the entire field and can be influenced by human bias,” says Shawn Butler, graduate student in the University of Tennessee College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. “Theoretically, an aerial approach could provide spatially dense information on plant populations across large areas quickly and remove human bias.”
For two years, researchers assessed plant stands of emerging cotton through manual counting and through images obtained from both digital and multi-spectral cameras mounted beneath a quad-copter. The quad-copter was flown at varying altitudes ranging from 30 to 120 meters.
Of the two camera systems analyzed, the images produced from the multi-spectral camera proved to be more accurate in estimating plant populations, with a greater than 93 percent accuracy. However, researchers say the red, green, blue (RGB) images produced by the less-expensive digital camera still looked promising, with a greater than 85 percent accuracy using current methods and scripted programming.
“Based on initial results, the aerial imagery provided by either RGB or multi-spectral sensors may be a sufficient tool to improve accuracy and efficiency of plant stand assessment,” says Butler. “The most impactful difference to the end user in deciding a method to use will be the cost between the two camera systems.”
“Crop monitoring is a big obstacle for many producers,” says Tyson Raper, project leader and assistant professor with the UT Department of Plant Sciences. “We want to continue to evaluate tools and methodologies that have the potential to help farmers overcome monitoring challenges, improve response time and increase profitability.”
Butler presented this research at the 2017 International ASA, CSSA and SSSA Annual Meeting, “Managing Global Resources for a Secure Future,” held in Tampa, Florida. The American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America and Soil Science Society of America hosted the meeting.
The study was conducted at three locations – the West Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center in Jackson and the UT AgResearch and Education centers at Milan and Ames Plantation. Other project team members include Mike Buschermohle, Interim Assistant Dean of UT Extension. Cotton Incorporated provided partial support for this project.
Through its mission of research, teaching and extension, the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture touches lives and provides Real. Life. Solutions. ag.tennessee.edu.

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Pitch Management – interview with sports field coordinator Justin Lang

November 21, 2017
In her latest industry interview, Sporting Venue Business’s Katie McIntyre hears insights from Melbourne & Olympic Park’s Sports Field Coordinator overseeing AAMI Park and the associated training fields, Justin Lang, on the challenges of managing and maintaining healthy pitches, especially in venues with multi-codes and events.

Justin, can you start off by telling us more about yourself? Your background, career highlights, etc?

I started my sports turf career as an apprentice in 1990 at the age of 17. I prepared cricket wickets for the Richmond Cricket Club and ground for the Richmond Football Club in Melbourne. I then become the Assistant Arena Manager at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne for 10 years. I am now the Sports Field Coordinator at Melbourne & Olympic Parks overseeing AAMI Park and its training fields.

Some of my highlights are preparing the pitch for international events, including: World Cup Qualifiers for the Socceroos; the Asian Cup in 2015; consulting for the FIFA Brazil World Cup in 2014; consulting for the 2016 Asian Champions League Final in Jeoju, South Korea; preparing for the Rugby Union World Cup in 2003; hosting the Rugby League World Cup Opening game and ceremony in 2017; Wallabies games; preparing Cricket pitches for Australia; and hosting numerous concerts and Monster Truck events.

As the Sports Field Coordinator for Melbourne & Olympic Parks’ AAMI Park and its training facilities, what are your main responsibilities? I understand you recently had to transform the Stadium from a Monster Jam Venue back to A-League and also have two concerts coming up in the next couple of months. What specific maintenance is required for non-sporting events and how easy/hard is the process of conversion?

My main responsibilities are to oversee the day-to-day operation of the turf in AAMI Park and the surrounding sports fields. This includes turf maintenance programs, capital works, turf replacement, irrigation, budgets and five full-time staff, along with a number of casuals.

We have six main tenants, including Melbourne Storm Rugby League Club, Melbourne Rebels Super Rugby Club, Melbourne Victory and Melbourne City in the A-League, Melbourne Demons and the Collingwood Magpies in the AFL.

Transitioning from a Monster Jam event or a concert to a football match five days later is not something that is planned the week before. Planning is done well in advance, with field preparation starting eight to ten weeks out. Plant nutrition is crucial for concert wear and recovery, hardening off the plant and making sure there is minimal growth for the event is imperative. Reducing soil moisture and Nitrogen levels makes a big difference.

Presenting the pitch for football leading into a non-sporting event is tough, finding the right balance between hardening-off the plant but still making sure the surface is first class for Football can be difficult.

AAMI Park features a cutting-edge Bioframe design with a geodesic dome roof, which covers most of the seating area. Obviously this means increased comfort for spectators, however, does it offer any specific challenges or indeed benefits in terms of the pitch and the WALT deliverables needed for healthy grass plant growth?

There is a big enthuses with modern stadia on spectator comfort. For us this means reduced sunlight and air movement. To help combat this we have introduced artificial lighting in the form of three large SGL light rigs. From April to September we have the light rigs going 24 hours a day in designated areas. The only time they are not operating is during an event.

Can you describe for us the stadium’s pitch set up? i.e. the grass type/s, whether it’s a natural/hybrid/artificial pitch, use of technology, like undersoil heating, grow lights, etc.

The pitch is a perched water table profile, this means we have sand over gravel over clay with a Herringbone drainage system installed. The sand we use drains at 500mm per hour to help cope with sudden downpours.

We use a Sports Turf stabilizing product from our turf supplier HG Sports Turf “Eclipse” for stability and playability. The product has synthetic fibers attached to a backing that gives the surface its stability. One of the main benefits to the product is you can install it one day and play on it the next. The product is sown with straight Soprano Ryegrass and has no Bermuda grass base. One of the main factors in using the Eclipse is its outstanding ability to withstand a Super Rugby Scrum.

Ready play sports turf is something we have been doing in Australia for the last 25 years. This gives venues the ability to have a concert, replace turf and play on it the next day. This model is slowly being implemented worldwide to make venues more flexible and maximize revenue.

What are the key elements of your Pitch Management Plan for AAMI Park and the elite training pitch? And how would its needs potentially differ, if at all, from a pitch in Europe?

To have a strong plant that has excellent wear and recovery is our main focus. The maintenance of this includes a high emphasis on controlled release granular fertilizers with foliar applications to top up some minor elements. Products to help combat high wear and shade are also commonly used. With lack of sunlight and air movement disease can be a big issue, keeping on top of disease is an important challenge but with the right program this is reduced greatly.

With Melbourne’s hot summers and cold winters choosing the right species of grass is important. Fortunately, we don’t have to transition grass species from a warm season to a cool season grass. Although, pushing Ryegrass through 40-degree days in summer and five degree days in winter comes with its challenges. Even Europe has its wide range of climate, each venue has its own micro-climate and would have a program in place regardless of its location.

As a medium sized rectangular stadium playing host to rugby league, rugby union and soccer matches, what specific challenges do you face and how do you overcome these?

The biggest challenge we face is having all four teams in competition at the same time. Throw in a couple of concerts as well can make it interesting.

From February to June it is not uncommon to have three codes playing at the venue on the same weekend. Having Super Rugby on a Friday night, A-League Football on a Saturday and Melbourne Storm Rugby League on a Sunday in the same weekend is something that we regularly deal with.

Presenting the pitch for one code then making sure all previous lines, logos and divots are repaired and not noticeable for the next event takes expertise and dedication from all our staff.

AAMI Park won the ‘Professional Footballers Association Best Pitch Award’ for the 2011/12, 2012/13 and 2014/15 seasons. What does it mean to you and the grounds staff to win such industry awards? Especially ones voted for by the elite athletes themselves.

You don’t set out to win awards like this, but it’s a massive bonus to all involved when you do. It’s a great reward for all the hard work the team has put in throughout the season.

If we can play a part, even a little part in helping Melbourne Victory or City to be the best Football teams in the country then we have done our bit. What makes it even more rewarding is AAMI Park has to do it consistently over at least 23 A-League games per season, far more than any other venue.

When it comes to the latest in best practice, technology and innovations in Turf Management, Turf Care and Turf Maintenance, how vital is knowledge-sharing between peers?

Having a good relationship with peers from other major venues throughout Australia, particularly in Melbourne for me, has been integral. At different times it is good to bounce ideas off groundsman in similar positions, having similar issues.

Having started your career as Head Groundsman at Richmond Football Club back in 1991, and being a Turf Consultant both for the STRI and the AFC, you must have been privy to some major changes in turf technology and pitch management over the past 25+ years. Which would you say have been the most important for the betterment of the industry? And what kinds of advances would you like to see moving forward?

With constant improvement and professionalism of sport at the highest level, the turf industry has had to move with it. With clubs having millions of dollars worth of players running around, it is expected that surfaces are immaculate. The pressure and expectation on groundsman at the highest level is enormous. Dealing with nature has its challenges, introducing technology in turf to artificially change these dynamics has been crucial. Introducing technology such sand profiles, hybrid turf systems, artificial lighting, ground heating and cooling, systems that can control moisture levels in the profile and portable pitches that can slide in and out of stadiums are just some big improvements in turf in the last 25 years.

Consulting for FIFA in Brazil 2014 and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) in Asia has exposed me to the many improvements the industry has made, but more importantly the potential it has. With the FIFA World Cup coming up in Qatar 2022 and Asia becoming more active in the turf industry, I can see some pretty exciting times ahead for the industry.

Finally, what’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given or what advice would you give to someone considering a career in groundsmanship?  

Firstly – you need to be passionate about what you do, passion is something you have, you can’t teach someone to be passionate.

Secondly – get out there and sell yourself, grab every opportunity you get with both hands because nobody else will do it for you.

Thirdly – dealing with nature sometimes things are out of your control, control what you can control and try not to stress about the things that you can’t.

 

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Sports tourism pays off for Myrtle Beach

November 21, 2017

Most visitors to Grand Strand might look forward to its flashier attractions: the blinking carnival rides at Family Kingdom or the pocket of late-night clubs at Broadway at the Beach.

But a growing number of travelers are instead bound for the baseball fields and basketball courts tucked away across the Myrtle Beach area. Sports tourism is becoming a crucial strategy to keep visitors coming to the beach, even if they don’t end up lounging on the sand.

“We found that sports tourism is perhaps the most recession-proof part of tourism,” said Brad Dean, president of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce.

“(If) times get tough and the family budget gets crunched, you cut out the golf vacation, you scrap the girlfriend getaway, you cut back on the family vacation, but if your 12-year-old is playing in that 12-year-old championship, Mom and Dad will move mountain and earth to get there.”

Myrtle Beach collected $3.8 million in fees and city taxes paid by visitors traveling for sports events last year, and city staff estimate that sports tourism had a $186 million economic impact within the city limits in 2016. The Grand Strand is attractive for tournaments, tourism officials and event promoters said, because it offers a competitive market for hotel rooms as well as scores of restaurants and attractions.

But the area is also facing competitive pressures around the state as cities rush to build their own facilities. And in Myrtle Beach, like other cities across South Carolina, sports venues rarely break even on their own. City staff estimate that Myrtle Beach’s sports facilities will operate at a deficit close to $850,000 in the current budget year.

‘First to the game’

Rock Hill was one of the first cities in South Carolina to jump into the sports tourism world when it built Cherry Park, a baseball and softball complex on 68 acres, in 1985.

The town was looking for ways to goose its economy as its traditional base of textile manufacturing waned, and the park offered something new: a single location where multiple teams could play in the same tournament, according to Mark Sexton, the operations supervisor for Rock Hill Parks, Recreation and Tourism.

Since then, the city built a soccer complex, tennis center and a velodrome, an indoor cycling venue that hosts events similar to “NASCAR on bicycles,” Sexton said.

Rock Hill also has attracted specialized events with international competitors, like the BMX World Championships. The city was ultimately selected over Bangkok, Sexton said, and Rock Hill officials estimated the event had a roughly $19 million economic impact.

Part of the city’s success is its early entry into sports tourism, according to Bob Brookover, a senior lecturer in the department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management at Clemson University.

“They were first to the game, so they’re always at the front of people’s minds, and they’ve got long-term relationships,” Brookover said. “It’s a whole lot harder for people to break up with them and go to the next guy.”

Many towns have tried to replicate that success. Charleston City Councilwoman Kathleen Wilson pushed for building a natatorium, an indoor swimming complex, next to Citadel Mall in West Ashley, but funding has yet to materialize for the $38 million proposal.

Charleston hosts some larger sporting events that draw athletes and spectators, like the annual Cooper River Bridge Run. But the city doesn’t have the capacity for large groups of visitors that more seasonal destinations do, said Kathleen Cartland, the executive director of the Charleston Area Sports Commission.

“We just don’t have major sports complexes that have been built in other areas just for the tourism aspect of it,” Cartland said.

Greenville hosted the USA Karate National Championships and Team Trials this year, and it will host the Southeastern Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament in a three-year deal starting in 2019.

“Especially when you’ve hosted a year successfully, (promoters) look back at what the community did,” Robin Wright of Visit Greenville said.

Brookover also said the Upstate has been successful in attracting events because tourism officials can tout the redevelopment of downtown Greenville and Spartanburg.

Myrtle Beach has long focused on youth tournaments, assuming that young athletes bring many family members with them and that all of them will patronize local hotels and restaurants.

Mayor John Rhodes won his first term in office in 2005 after running on a platform that focused on expanding sports tourism. Rhodes is also one of the organizers of the Beach Ball Classic, an annual high school basketball tournament that started in 1981 and is now held at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center.

Because of that tournament, Rhodes said, “We realized the sports tourism thing in Myrtle Beach had an opportunity to grow and be something successful.”

But families with children in travel sports may have to make significant sacrifices to travel with their child. Dean said many families with children in travel sports have forgone a traditional weeklong vacation in favor of several smaller trips scheduled around tournaments. Parents often shuttle their children to venues between two and four hours away for a game or tournament, Brookover said.

Will they come?

In past decades, many cities erected sports facilities with a simple mantra in mind: build it and they will come. That has changed, however, as baseball diamonds, soccer fields and basketball courts have sprouted in cities from Columbia to Spartanburg to Irmo.

Dean said nationally, sports tourism facilities are overbuilt, though Myrtle Beach is somewhat insulated from that issue because it also offers the amenities of a vacation destination.

But with so many options, sports organizers can pick and choose, often striking multi-year deals for reduced facility rates.

“The organizations that would be bringing tournaments to you, they’ve been in the driver’s seat for a bit in terms of being able to ask you for a lot,” Brookover said. “It’s always best when you’re thinking about developing facilities that you develop the right thing for your stakeholders that live in your community first.”

Myrtle Beach has spent millions on new and improved sports facilities in the past decade, including a $5.5 million renovation of its high school football stadium and track this year and a $14 million indoor sports facility that opened in 2015, equipped for basketball and volleyball.

There is also a private venue inside the city limits, the Ripken Experience, a complex of nine artificial turf fields that opened in 2006 to host tournaments and practice camps for youth baseball players.

But cities continue to jump into the market, and the city of Florence is moving forward with a soccer complex. Established venues like Rock Hill continue to expand – the city is planning to lease a new indoor facility from a private developer.

At the same time, Myrtle Beach lost two significant tournaments to North Myrtle Beach this year: the Saltwater Highland Games, a series of Gaelic events, and the Grand Strand Softball Classic, a youth event.

Lawrence Jones, the organizer of the softball classic, said Myrtle Beach’s new pricing structure changed his usual $3,500 fee to roughly $30,000. In North Myrtle Beach, he said he paid less than $3,000, and he’s since signed a three-year contract to use that city’s sports complex.

The classic had been held in Myrtle Beach for the past 24 years.

“I think the City Council now is of the understanding … (that) they want to readdress the payment plans of the facilities now,” Jones said.

Rhodes said the city faces a balancing act between recouping the operating costs of its facilities while still attracting tournaments.

“I don’t have a problem with us losing some money, but I don’t want us losing a lot,” Rhodes said. “We don’t mind helping (promoters) make money, because we look at making money off the tourist that comes in Myrtle Beach.” – by Chloe Johnson, Post & Courier (Charleston, SC)

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Rethinking legacy for host cities: The dawn of a new era

November 21, 2017

The new major event hosting model risks leaving cities with no built legacy, so they must look elsewhere to extend the benefits that derive from hosting events. A new report by Arup examines how cities can build sustainable legacy in this ‘new era’ of major event hosting, as SportCal’s Callum Murray explains.

Paris and Los Angeles, recently chosen to host the 2024 and 2028 Olympic Games respectively, represent a “new era of hosting major events,” with both hosting plans “dominated by the use of existing or temporary venues, maximizing efficiency, minimizing costs and dramatically reducing the risk of unused venues post-Games,” according to Arup’s new report, ‘Rethinking legacy for host cities’.

The new approach is being enthusiastically adopted by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), as it attempts to reduce the cost of hosting the Olympics and thereby stimulate interest from cities in hosting the games; and where the IOC leads other sporting rights-holders are likely to follow.

“This new direction should be the perfect antidote to the populist fuelled opposition that has led to so many cities stepping back from recent major event bidding competitions,” the report argues. In the race to host the 2024 Olympics alone, Boston, Hamburg, Rome and Budapest all dropped out after facing popular or political opposition to their plans, usually based on the (perceived) cost of hosting the games. Consequently, the IOC took the unprecedented step of awarding the 2024 and 2028 editions simultaneously to the two remaining bidders, in order to prevent the losing 2024 bidder from walking away from the process completely.

“And yet,” the report – which was authored by a multi-disciplinary team of city planners, designers, consultants and engineers, with experience of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, World Cups, Expos and Commonwealth Games – continues, the new approach “creates a new challenge for host cities – the risk of no tangible legacy at all. In this context, despite sizable reductions in costs, any price may seem too much to citizens who struggle to see any wider benefits beyond the six weeks of events and celebration.”

There is therefore a need to “reinvent legacy,” according to the report, which argues that other benefits derived from hosting an event “might include increased civic engagement through volunteer programmed and better public information; a wider audience engaged through personalized event experiences using digital technology and social media; more efficient organizational models used to manage the city; a shift towards more sustainable behavior; and capitalizing on long term infrastructure investment.”

The report identifies the way in which hosting an event “can positively change the behaviors of residents, businesses, government agencies and investors” as the most powerful effect of an event on a host city. Citing the “legacy success stories” of Olympic host cities Barcelona, Sydney, Beijing and London, it claims that “it has been the Games-induced revival of business confidence, re-engagement of local communities and restoration of trust in city leadership that has led to transformational changes for those cities.”

The problem for host cities, the report argues, is that “These benefits are often masked by the more tangible physical legacies of Olympic Parks, stadia or villages. In the absence of these physical assets post-2020, hosts must focus more overtly on these behavioral legacies if the ‘memory’ of the Games is to be engaged in transforming their cities.”

The report identifies the following three tactics that are most likely to have the greatest impact in achieving this transformation:

  • Urban overlay: mapping the city’s ambitions and accelerating change through its neighborhoods and streets.
  • Operational excellence: transforming city management and embedding highly efficient Games time organizational models to increase future resilience.
  • Cleaner and greener infrastructure: inspiring and accelerating action to tackle climate change by developing hard and soft ‘climate-ready’ infrastructure.”

“In the same way that overlay design is used to create the ‘look and feel’ of an event, the event itself is used to create the ‘look, feel and function’ of the future city,” the report proposes. This overlay could include so-called ‘live sites’ but, “Unlike the current Olympic model, Live Sites could be placed all around the city, bringing the sporting events to each neighborhood and closer to its citizens. This has two benefits, it takes the strain off the transport system, as fewer spectators are travelling to the competition venues and in many cases would be able to walk to their local Live Site, encouraging active travel.”

In the field of operational excellence, the report argues: “The adoption of new technologies, coupled with a greater understanding of the power and value of efficient operations means the potential for a legacy of operational excellence is far more possible in the post 2020 era.

“For example, in the Los Angeles context the effect could be dramatic, delivering a modal shift from car to public transport, localizing services, transforming inter-city coordination and creating a legacy of efficient civil defense and community engagement. London created a legacy for event management; Los Angeles has the opportunity to transform city management.”

Meanwhile, major events offer cities the opportunity to scale up and accelerate their environmental priorities, through initiatives such as:

  • Consumer awareness campaigns
  • Low emission zones
  • New metro lines
  • Modal shift from car to public transport
  • Electric transportation
  • New temporary/permanent sources of energy
  • Localized energy, cooling and water systems
  • Reprogrammed waste collection/sorting mechanisms
  • Flood protection/retention
  • City amenity/breathing space

In a section entitled ‘Financing events differently’, the report argues: “Reduced venue capacity requirements are where real savings start to materialize, and affordable off-the-shelf or pre-engineered venues become a realistic proposition. Apart from a few of the larger venues, such as the main stadium, it is conceivable that almost all major events could in the future use either temporary or existing venues. One of the big advantages of temporary venues is the speed at which land can be released for redevelopment after a major event. They are faster and cheaper to erect and mitigate the risk of post event ‘white elephants’.”

However, it also acknowledges that some of these initiatives could have knock-on effects on the ability of event organizers to finance the events, especially where the use of temporary, demountable and existing structures limits the number of tickets that can be sold. This loss of ticket revenue “would need to be mitigated through other forms of associated event revenue,” according to the report. “Fair and equal access to tickets also continues to be a live issue. Improving online systems and using space more effectively for sponsors, organizing members, media and spectating athletes can help create smaller but fuller venues. And from an athlete and spectator point of view, smaller venues generally result in a packed house and a great atmosphere.”

The report also suggests that creating more immersive digital environments, through technology such as virtual reality, creates “a huge opportunity for major events to increase spectator participation and boost the numbers that might be lost due to reduced venue capacities.”

For example, future live sites “could offer virtual reality environments that allow spectators to tune into any number of live sports, get guided tours of venues or listen to their favorite athlete being interviewed. With free, or cheaper, entrance fees than competition venues, Live Sites could be highly accessible to families and youngsters.”

The report concludes: “Embedding urban overlay, operational excellence and clean and green infrastructure principles into the delivery plan for a major event goes a long way to guaranteeing a transformation for the city. But long term success comes from the building of institutional capacity to deliver benefits before, during and after the event.”

The full report can be found here.

This article was written by Callum Murray and originally published by GlobalSportsJobs’partners, SportCal.

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Toro announces 2018 Super Bowl Sports Turfgrass Training Program winner

November 14, 2017

The Toro Company has announced this year’s winner of the annual Toro Super Bowl* Sports Turfgrass Training Program. Blake Bernstein, a sports turf management major at Mount San Antonio College, was selected and will be on hand at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota, for Super Bowl LII to assist the grounds crew in field preparations.

Since 1967, Toro has partnered with the National Football League (NFL) to provide equipment and expertise to help prepare the game field and multiple practice fields leading up to the biggest professional football game of the year. Developed to recognize one student who has shown exemplary leadership in turfgrass management, the program encourages emerging professionals to further grow their knowledge base by assisting the grounds crew for this high-profile game. Bernstein will work alongside NFL field director Ed Mangan, George Toma and the Super Bowl grounds crew at U.S. Bank Stadium on turfgrass maintenance, logo painting, field preparation for media day, halftime preparation and field cleanup.

“Sports have been a passion for me my entire life,” said Bernstein. “I consider myself incredibly lucky to work in this environment on a daily basis. Being able to help prepare the field for the biggest game in football is just an amazing opportunity, and I can’t wait to be on site helping out, learning and taking it all in.”

Bernstein plans to graduate from Mount San Antonio College in 2018. He currently holds positions on the grounds crew at several facilities including Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California; Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, home of the Los Angeles Rams and USC Trojans; and, the UCLA baseball facilities. Additionally, Bernstein is the director of procurement, cultivation and design at the Bishop Gooden Center in Pasadena, California. Bernstein also holds a degree in business from Arizona State University.

To be considered for the program, entrants had to undergo a comprehensive application process. Due to Bernstein’s ongoing success in school, his various grounds positions at a variety of facilities and his ambition to pursue a career in turfgrass management, he was selected from a large pool of talented candidates. Applicants must be enrolled in at least the second year of a two-year turfgrass program, or in at least the junior year of a four-year turfgrass program.

“We’re pleased to be able to offer this opportunity to a student who has dedicated their education and future career to turfgrass management,” says Boyd Montgomery, CSE, CSFM, regional business manager at Toro. “Blake continues an excellent tradition of having driven, passionate students working alongside some of the best in the industry to refine their craft on a global stage during the biggest game in football.”

Since 2003, Toro and the NFL have provided this opportunity for students in the field of turfgrass management.

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SAFE needs auction/raffle items

November 14, 2017

The STMA Conference is the main fundraising opportunity for The SAFE Foundation, STMA’s charity. SAFE holds several events during the conference: a golf tournament, bowling match, live auction, silent auction and a raffle.

SAFE is seeking donations for the auction and raffles.

We are seeking team gear, gift cards, equipment and product donations, experiences, sporting event tickets, sports memorabilia, vacation destination trips, gift baskets, merchandise for women …. just about anything is appreciated.

Please ship items to STMA Headquarters (prior to Dec. 29th) or bring your items to the conference and drop them off at STMA’s registration desk. If you want to donate an item, please use this form.

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Turf students install a new irrigation system on campus

November 14, 2017

Students in Delaware Valley University’s turf management program had some hands-on experience while improving their campus in Doylestown, PA October 26 when DelVal students in the Irrigation Technology class installed a new irrigation system for the University’s putting green.

Turf Equipment and Supply Co. donated supplies such as sprinklers and pipe for the project.

Two industry professionals will visit the class to guide the students. Mike Hartley, irrigation sales manager for Turf Equipment and Supply Co. and George Ley III, president of George E. Ley Co., a company that installs golf course irrigation systems, will be working with the students. Some of the tasks include digging up the old sprinklers, cutting and fusing pipe, wiring, and using a vibratory plow to bury the pipe.

“The students will be using the latest technology and installation techniques,” said Dr. Doug Linde, professor of turf management. “This project is an ideal learning experience for the students because people that design and install irrigation systems as a profession will be teaching while the students are doing the work.  Combining theory with practice is in DelVal’s core mission, and it is a very common teaching method used in all majors on campus.”

Hartley said that Turf Equipment and Supply Co. is glad to participate in activities that educate the next generation of turf managers.

“Education is part of Turf Equipment and Supply Company’s mission,” said Hartley.

 

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T-shirts support disabled vets, military families

November 14, 2017

There is always room in the drawer for another cool t-shirt. That’s what Project EverGreen and Nufarm are counting on as they offer special edition “A Greener Call of Duty” t-shirts for sale with a portion of the proceeds going to support the GreenCare for Troops initiative.

The shirts, which will be available through November 22, retail for $20 and can be ordered at www.mmipromo.com/nufarmgcft. Orders received by November 15 have guaranteed delivery by December 20 in time for Christmas.

The durable cotton/polyester shirts make perfect gifts for landscape crews and field service personnel, and demonstrate your commitment to the program and giving back to families and veterans who sacrifice so much.

“These special edition t-shirts are a terrific way to support the GreenCare for Troops program, and outfit your employees with a t-shirt that promotes the value of green spaces,” says Cindy Code, executive director of Project EverGreen. “Whether you have time to volunteer for the program or not, buying t-shirts for you and your crews helps to support Project EverGreen’s efforts to provide free lawn and landscape services to our military heroes.”

Project EverGreen’s GreenCare for Troops provides complimentary lawn and landscape services for the families of currently deployed military personnel, and post 9/11 disabled veterans with a service-connected disability.

The 11-year-old nationwide program is made possible because of the generosity of volunteers and sponsors who want to give back to our nation’s heroes for the sacrifices they have made on behalf of all Americans. These complimentary services are provided to eligible families in need to provide a helping hand to our military at a time they need it most.

The winning t-shirt design was selected by attendees at the GIE + EXPO in Louisville. Nufarm and Toro are the primary corporate supporters of the GreenCare for Troops program.

If you are interested in registering to become a GreenCare for Troops volunteer, visit www.ProjectEverGreen.org

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STMA Board slate finalized

November 7, 2017

Ballots to be sent Nov. 20

The STMA Nominating Committee has set the Slate of Candidates for the 2018 Board of Directors elections. They will present the slate later this month via electronic ballot to the membership – complete with bios, vision statements and photos of those slated.

The Nominating Process is straightforward, guided by a timetable and process outlined in the Election SOP. Members interested in Board service are encouraged to submit a Volunteer Interest Form, complete with their vision for the future of the association. The Nominating Committee reviews all information and reaches out to those who submit to gather additional information and to provide information about the time commitment and expectations of board service. This information is subsequently discussed by the Committee and the slate is developed. All who are slated are contacted by the Committee to confirm final interest and those who are not slated are contacted and provided an explanation of why they were not slated.

The Nominating Committee works independently of the STMA Board of Directors to avoid any appearance of favoritism. An electronic ballot is then created through an on-line software. That link is emailed to each voting member of STMA and is unable to be forwarded. Results are automatically electronically compiled, and the Chair of the Nominating Committee is notified first of the voting results; next, the remainder of the Committee is notified, and then the Committee notifies the candidates — those who have advanced to the Board and those who did not. The new Board of Directors is presented to the membership at the Annual Meeting during the Conference. That meeting will be Thurs., Jan. 18, 2018 in Fort Worth, Texas.

Up for Election
For the Secretary/Treasurer, Weston Appelfeller, CSFM, Columbus Crew SC, Columbus, OH is slated versus Jimmy Simpson, CSFM, Town of Cary, Cary, NC.

In the Academic race, the candidates are Jason Kruse, Ph.D., University of Florida, Gainesville, FL and Brian Scott, Mt. San Antonio College, Walnut, CA.

James Bergdoll, CSFM, City of Chattanooga, TN and Nick Caggiano, City of Nashua, NH are contenders for the Director, Parks and Recreation position.

For the Director Higher Education contest, Joshua Koss, CSFM, San Diego State University and Nick McKenna, CSFM, Texas A&M Athletics, College Station, TX will be slated.

Matt Anderson, CSFM, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ and Rusty Walker, CSFM, City of Grapevine, TX are positioned in the Director-At Large Elected race.

Three positions will be appointed by the new 2018 President, Sarah Martin, CSFM, City of Phoenix. Those are: At-Large Appointed Director; Director – Professional Facilities; and Commercial Director.

The Committee slated current Commercial Director Boyd Montgomery, CSFM, CSE, The Toro Company, Bloomington, MN in the Commercial Vice President position. That position runs unopposed.

Current President Tim VanLoo, CSFM, Iowa State University, Ames, IA will move to Immediate Past President. Jody Gill, CSFM, Blue Valley School District, Overland Park, KS will move to President-Elect.

The K-12 Director is not up for election. Sun Roesslein, CSFM, Jeffco Schools, Golden, CO holds that position.

 

Categories: test feeds

Field Performance Study – STMA needs your participation!

November 7, 2017

What is it:
STMA received a grant to investigate if it was possible to determine when a field becomes unsafe for athletes. Led by Dr. Brad Fresenburg, STMA’s Playing Conditions Index (PCI) was reengineered into a digital format. It is a protected Excel spreadsheet and users can only enter information in the cells that allow entry. The spreadsheet can be saved under different file names by the field manager to maintain records for each field. Not only does the spreadsheet automatically generate a PCI for the field being tested, but it also provides immediate feedback to sports turf managers about areas of their field that need attention if unsafe conditions are present. You may use this spreadsheet for all your fields and as many times as you wish. Click here to access.

What do you need:
Access to a smart phone, tablet, or computer. Download Microsoft’s free app for Excel if you are using a smart phone or tablet. Access the spreadsheet here.
To enter data on percent turfgrass cover, you will need to download the free Canopeo app.
To enter data on field hardness, compaction, and volumetric soil moisture, you will need the following instruments:

– Clegg Impact Hammer
– Soil moisture sensor
– Dial penetrometer

What to do with your results:
Over the course of time, STMA hopes to develop a database that will help bring us closer to making informed decisions about when fields become unsafe by identifying trends with field usage. Once you collect field data using the spreadsheet, please send the results to kalthouse@stma.org. The spreadsheet can be used as many times as necessary and may act as a recordkeeping tool for your fields. It may also be a good tool for providing data to your administrators to validate your need for additional resources. Please send your results any time you enter data to help us further the mission of keeping fields safe and playable for our athletes.

Categories: test feeds

‘Turf man’ says goodbye to Merlo (or not!)

November 7, 2017

By Ana Clyde

Update: According to Athletics Director Scott Laykam, Kevin White has decided not to stay with Wilbur Ellis and is coming back to University of Portland.  He starts back full time on Monday. 

He had been hired only four days before. It was July 19th, 2015, and University of Portland’s third athletic fields manager, Kevin White, was getting Merlo Field ready to host the Portland Timbers 2. White had to learn what to do, and prepare for a professional team, in less than a week.

He made a mistake. It was a small mistake. The line he painted at the end of the field was supposed to match the goal posts. But the line was slightly crooked, putting the goal only a hair in front of the paint. The referees were easygoing about the mistake, but they told him it had to be perfect for the next game.

“Oh it will be,” said White. “Don’t worry.”

It was. And it continued to be. In fact, White’s skills are so renowned, he brought home the Field of the Year Award for Merlo in 2016. He even consults with the Timbers field managers on how to keep up their turf. White is known for always being one of the first athletics staff members to show up every day. But only a little over two years after his first day on Merlo, White will be leaving UP to work as a sales rep for Wilbur Ellis, a company that sells agricultural products.

“This opportunity became available that’s…hard to pass up,” White said. “It allows me to spend more time with my wife, more freedom for taking time off.”

As athletics fields manager, White worked on Joe Etzel Field, the two practice fields, and Merlo — without a crew. Other than the few student workers he trains to provide some help on the fields, he is the sole caretaker of UP’s renowned facilities. This gives White a lot of control over his work, as he decides things like what fertilizers to use on the fields to what patterns will be mowed on Merlo.

White has spent an average of 55 to 60 hours on campus per week, the majority of that time going to Merlo, especially with home games. Game prep takes all week. Leading up to a game, White spends every day mowing, seeding, and watering the field, dividing his work up into small increments.

“The best place to find him was always at work as I’ve never met anyone who showed up earlier or worked longer than Kevin,” said men’s soccer head coach Nick Carlin-Voigt. “He prided himself on his craft to ensure both soccer programs had the crown jewel field in the Pacific Northwest.”

Taking care of the renowned playing field along with three other fields on his own has been a lot of work, even with two practice fields and an artificial baseball field. Etzel might not have real grass to mow, but White still gives the field the attention it needs.

“There’s kind of a misnomer that, because it’s turf, there’s not a lot of maintenance. But that’s far from the truth,” said Gonzo Grasis, associate athletic director of operations. “He spends a lot of time out there, grooming and keeping that artificial surface playable and safe, so that we get the most useful life out of that.”

But even though he was the only one to take care of UP’s fields, White knew what he was doing. For six years prior to UP, White had been working at Seattle University taking care of its fields. It was there that he came into contact with the two athletic fields managers that worked with UP athletics before him. The three of them are members of the Sports Turf Management Association (STMA), and all studied turfgrass management in college.

The position of athletic fields manager was still being developed when White first interviewed a few years ago. But although Buzz Stroud, the associate athletic director, wanted to hire White then, the offer was not enough to uproot him and his wife from Seattle, where they were living. The work itself also seemed too overwhelming. The athletic fields manager at that point had to take care of Merlo Field, the practice fields, and the baseball field all on his own. So, White continued working at Seattle University, but stayed in contact with Stroud.

In July of 2015, the position opened up, and Stroud called White to see if he would be interested in interviewing for the job again. He agreed. The position had grown in athletics, and White saw more incentives to move. For one, the baseball field had been converted to an artificial surface, which meant less work for one person with no crew. The second incentive was the renowned Merlo Field itself. And the third incentive: at the time, the school was hosting all of the Portland Timbers 2 home games.  Stroud made sure to bring White to a T2 game on UP’s home field.

“It felt like a sellout crowd,” White said. “It was just really electric in there…I liked that excitement. And I thought, well, I want to do this.”

So, when White was offered the position a second time, he accepted and moved to Portland.

White majored in turfgrass management at Cal Poly, taking science-based classes like soil biology, botany, and plant physiology that would give him the foundation to make educated decisions in taking care of a sports field.

His position at Seattle University was the first time he worked on sports turf, but before then, he worked on golf course maintenance. White’s love for golf is what first got him interested in turfgrass management. He wasn’t good enough to golf professionally, so he looked for another career path that would let him work on the golf course.

Initially he wanted to be a course designer because of his interest in designing with minimal disruption to the environment, feeling passionately about an environmentally friendly approach. But as a field manager, he’s been able to apply his passion that was fueled by his studies, and use it on Seattle U’s fields. The school is a pesticide-free campus, which forced White to be creative with some of his strategies. He had to fall back on the sciences he studied, like when certain diseases or insects affect the plants, and how to combat those issues naturally. When he came to Portland, White rethought his tactics once again, and continued that pro-environmental philosophy on Merlo Field.

“I knew that it was going to be a challenge, and I knew that there was going to be an expectation to continue on that tradition of high-quality field,” White said. “But that was my goal as well.”

His efforts have also been noticed by UP athletics. White’s conscious approach and attention to detail are appreciated by staff members, coaches and players.

“He’s got good rapport with the coaches,” Grasis said. “The players obviously love him because he goes above and beyond…Kevin’s one of those people that does that extra ten percent.”

White’s relationship with the soccer teams has become particularly important, especially with men’s soccer and head coach Nick Carlin-Voigt. On game day, White will come in around 6:30 that morning, and work straight through until the team comes out to do walkthroughs at around 10 a.m. He’ll wait for them to finish, then go back on the field and work up to game time mowing patterns, which usually takes about three to four hours.

He tried to accommodate so that the men’s team can also go out on Merlo once a week. To make sure this doesn’t intervene with maintenance, White keeps dialogue with the coaches. They tell him what they want for playing conditions, and he does his best to meet their requests and offer solutions.

“Kevin is a true professional who took great pride in his work,” Carlin-Voigt said. “His work on the field spoke louder than his words off it as he took great care in developing the best grass field in the country.”

White feels prepared for his new position, and confident that his experience at UP and with the Timbers will help him in his new position with Wilbur Ellis as he consults clients about which products to buy. He hopes that the new UP athletics fields manager will work with him and buy his products, so that he can come back to campus as often as possible.

But for now, White is simply proud of what he’s done on Merlo and his contribution to the field’s reputation in the collegiate sports world. He doesn’t rule out ever going back to working on turf because of the experience he’s had at UP and his love for getting the field ready for home games.

“I will miss that point. Looking back and knowing what it took to get to that point,” White said. “That’s probably what I’ll miss most: the people and just that whole game day experience. I really enjoy that.”

White’s last official day with the Portland Pilots was Friday, Oct. 13, but he will continue to work at UP as Gonzo Grasis looks for a replacement with the same experience and pride as White. The two have decided to have White come back temporarily on a lighter schedule so he can help maintain Merlo as the soccer teams play their home games for the rest of the season.

“…he will be sorely missed by everyone at Portland soccer,” Carlin-Voigt said. “His legacy will live on in the hallowed grounds of Merlo Field.”

Categories: test feeds

Fenway Park transitions for Gridiron Series

November 7, 2017

The Fenway Park grounds crew continues the ballpark’s transformation from a Major League Baseball diamond to a multi-purpose football field, as Fenway Sports Management prepares to host the The Fenway Gridiron Series.

UConn and Boston College are featured in the series with a Saturday, Nov. 18 matchup at 7 p.m. and the game will be televised nationally on CBS Sports Network.

The transition from baseball diamond to football field began on October 23 and will continue until November 6. Installing goal posts, sodding the infield, painting field dimensions and logos are just a few of the preparations taking place during the transition.

See photos here

Categories: test feeds

Start preparing for the STMA Student Challenge

October 31, 2017

The Student Challenge is presented in partnership with the SAFE Foundation, Founding Partner Hunter Industries, and supporting sponsor Ewing. Each year students from 2-year and 4-year colleges and universities across the country compete in an exam that challenges knowledge in the sports turf industry. The winning teams receive a cash award, a plaque, and medallions for each team member. The prize money benefits the institution’s turf program and creates opportunities for students pursuing a career in sports turf management. The Study Guide for the 2018 STMA Student Collegiate Challenge is now available online! Please be sure to thoroughly review the Study Guide in preparation for the exam. CLICK HERE to access the Study Guide.

The 2018 contest will take place Thursday, January 18 from 2-4:30 pm at the Fort Worth Convention Center in Fort Worth, TX. Registration for the Student Challenge opens on October 1, so start thinking about your team now! A maximum of four undergraduates can compete on a team and must declare if they are representing a two-year or four-year institution. Competitors receive complimentary conference registration. If you are not a member, you must include your dues payment with registration. All Student Challenge competitors are REQUIRED to register online before December 15. No paper registration forms will be accepted. You can send in a paper form to register for optional events. Please contact Kristen Althouse at kalthouse@stma.org with questions about the Student Challenge.

 

Categories: test feeds

Are there really glow-in-the-dark soil organisms?

October 31, 2017

Soil is the living, breathing skin of the earth – it is literally alive. Every handful of soil is home to billions of microscopic organisms. Bacteria, fungi, protozoa, nematodes, and arthropods inhabit soils in every corner of the planet. For these microorganisms, soils serve as the ideal habitat, full of cracks and crevices and pores dug out by growing roots. Within soils, films of water bridging grains of sand and assorted mixtures of decaying plant material also serve as habitat. In a habitat this diverse, it is not surprising that the organisms occupying these spaces are just as diverse.

Soils are one of the most diverse habitats on Earth. One gram of soil contains up to 1 billion bacterial cells from thousands of different taxonomic groups. Soil ecologists have estimated that we have only identified about 1% of all the microorganism species living in the soil! There is so much life still to discover below ground, and the organisms we have identified continue to amaze us – some of them even glow. So, yes, there are glow-in-the-dark soil organisms.

Yes, they glow, but there’s so much more to it than that! First of all, what does it even mean for an organism to “glow in the dark”? Biologists use the term bioluminescence to describe the phenomenon of organisms glowing in the dark. Bioluminescence is the ability of organisms to convert chemical energy into light. This light can come in many colors, but it is usually green when emitted from organisms living on land, and blue when in the ocean. So who glows green below ground? Surprisingly, a lot of different soil organisms have the ability to luminesce, including bacteria, fungi and collembola (a.k.a., springtails). The question now remains: Why do these soil organisms glow in the dark?

Bacteria – Bacterial luminescence is much less common in soils than in the ocean, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t important. Bacteria can colonize and infect nematodes (microscopic worms that live in the soil). When the bacteria inside the nematode glows, this may make their nematode host more attractive to predators. Then when the predator consumes the nematode, the bacteria goes with it and is able to colonize the predator. In this way, luminescence serves a mechanism of dispersal — that is it allows bacterial populations to expand and explore new habitats (both inside and outside of other organisms). Another reason bacteria might luminesce is to signal back and forth between other bacteria within the same community. This phenomenon is known as quorum sensing where bacteria signal for other bacteria to start producing a certain chemical compound, for example, that will benefit the larger bacterial community. In this case, bacteria communicate through light.

Fungi – Fungal luminescence is more common than bacterial luminescence in soils. Like bacteria, fungi may use the glowing light as a means of expanding their population. The glow may attract insects that spread fungal spores, the reproductive part of the fungus. The more attractive a fungus’ glow, the more likely it is for insects to spread its spores. This could be especially important for fungi that release their spores at night. Another reason fungi may luminesce is in order to attract predators of their predators. For example, if a fungus is being eaten by another organism, say, a microarthropod, the green glow may attract a predator or parasite of that microarthropod. In this way, fungi can glow to fend off predators and protect themselves from being eaten.

Collembola – Collembola are microscopic arthropods that are also known as springtails. Their nickname comes from the powerful tail-like structure, known as a furcula, that they use to move (or spring) around soils and leaf litter. Soil ecologists have observed luminescence in collembola, but like much of the below ground world, the reason for the glow is still unknown.

Like any characteristic of an organism, it is important to consider that luminescence could just be a by-product of another biological process, and not have any real ecological significance at all. A soil organism could undergo a biochemical reaction that produces a green glow in the process, and, well, that’s that. While it might be hard to believe that an organism would glow for no real reason, we cannot rule it out completely.

Do soil organisms glow in the dark? Yes! But to answer the question of why they glow, we will have to keep digging. – By Yamina Pressler, Colorado State University

 

Categories: test feeds

UNC making sure grass is greener at Kenan Stadium this year

October 31, 2017

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is spending a lot of money on grass this season.

UNC’s football team is practicing on the game field inside Kenan Stadium while the practice facility is renovated, so the school has to re-sod the field before most home games.

“A lot of people ask us, ‘Are we crazy? Are we going to take a field out on Wednesday night and play on it on Saturday?’” UNC’s turf manager Casey Carrick said.

That is exactly what the school’s turf experts are doing, with a little help from Charlotte-based Carolina Green, a company in the business of growing turf.

“It’s very heavy sod and it’s root-bound,” Chad Price, owner of Carolina Green, said. “It’s grown on plastic. All the roots grow amongst themselves really tight.”

And that allows it to be harvested, shipped and put down at Kenan Stadium – all in one day.

“Seventeen pounds a square foot. You put it down and basically you can put football players on it immediately,” Price said.

This is a big job for a university that comes with a big cost. Carolina considered the option of installing an artificial turf field for the season, which would have cost an estimated $1.4 million.

It costs about $140,000 every time UNC decides to re-sod the entire field. So far, they have only had to do that once this season. They replaced the middle of the field before the Duke game and cleaned up some rough spots before the Notre Dame game.

Overall, the project is significantly under budget.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Carrick said. “We do normal sod jobs throughout the year – baseball, softball, soccer, lacrosse, and we even do some sod out here but nothing to this magnitude.

Nothing where there is so much on the line. We don’t get this right we are going to have a problem in the game on Saturday.”

Categories: test feeds

Banc of California Stadium to open next year

October 31, 2017

Banc of California Stadium will be the new soccer-specific home venue of the Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC). In addition to the 22,000-seat stadium, the project will include restaurants, retail and conference space.

Set to take to the pitch for its 2018 inaugural season, LAFC and its 22,000-seat Banc of California Stadium will be the centerpiece of a $350 million complex that will also include a large community plaza, restaurants and retail on the southwest corner of Exposition Park.

Concerts, festivals and other community events will also be hosted at the new venue.

LAFC is the newest MLS soccer club serving the greater Los Angeles area. Its ownership group is comprised of local leaders and innovators of industry with intellectual capital, financial prowess, operations expertise and success in the fields of entertainment, sports, technology and media.

Otto Benedict, SVP/GM, LAFC Facilities, told SportsTurf magazine, “BrightView is installing both our Stadium pitch and the Performance Center pitch; Brightview project manager is Dave Kratt.

“Our fields were both designed by Dan Almond of Millennium Sports, who had planned to use Latitude 36 in the design. The field is being grown by Jimmy Fox of Evergreen Turf/American Sod.

“We posted our turf manager position the 2nd week of October,” Benedict says, “and we look to have this person on the ground by mid-November.

“We are currently working through the evaluation process on a few different types of turf protection. We need to understand the types of shows we have coming and their unique load-in and load-out needs prior to securing a product. We have the luxury of a built-in stage deck so we can avoid direct impact to the pitch,” Benedict says.

Partnering with Grand Prix Network LLC (GPN) and GPN’s exclusively sanctioned partner and Olympic member USA RugbyLAFC’s Banc of California Stadium will be the permanent home of the Grand Prix Rugby “$1M Champion Sevens,” the world’s richest Rugby Sevens championship in history.

GPN is a new breed of sports and entertainment company, which produces, distributes and organizes professional leagues and events for certain Olympic-style team sports, in partnership with USOC members USA Rugby and USA Volleyball. GPN’s mission is to acquire, produce and distribute wholly owned, world-class, U.S.-based sports and entertainment content across global media platforms.

Banc of California Stadium will be the first stadium on the west coast to incorporate safe standing, with LAFC to provide an opportunity for supporters to stand shoulder-to-shoulder, creating an electric and unified stadium atmosphere on match-days.

Since its inception in October 2014, the Club and stadium architect Gensler Sports have been in constant dialogue with its supporters by hosting multiple workshop design sessions regarding architectural elements of the supporters’ north end of the stadium. LAFC ownership has incorporated global best practices to create the most supporter-forward environment in MLS.

The first-of-its-kind rail seating system is designed by U.S.-based SC Railing. The railing was specifically designed for comfort and safety and to accommodate sight lines by eliminating obstructions. Gensler Sports played an integral role in conceiving and implementing the safe-standing concept with the overall design process taking nearly two-years of intense research.

LAFC have also unveiled a proposal to locate its soccer operations headquarters and training facility on the eastside of Los Angeles, at the campus of Cal State LA. Plans for the new facilities were approved by the California State University Board of Trustees back in May.

The plans call for LAFC to invest $30 million to renovate Cal State LA’s stadium field and construct a state of the art training facility that will serve as home to the Club’s MLS players, staff, coaches and youth development team, LAFC Academy. The Club will also support Cal State LA students through internships and collaborations with University educational programs.

The new training site and practice facility, designed by Gensler Sports, will feature a natural grass practice field exactly mirroring that of Banc of California Stadium, locker rooms, sports medicine facilities, office space for team coaches and staff and will be completely financed by LAFC. The two-story training facility will incorporate the campus’ industrial and modernist design style. Hunt Construction Group will serve as the construction management company on the project.

Along with building its practice facility at Cal State LA, LAFC has pledged an additional $1.5 million to the University, which comes on the heels of a $100,000 contribution it made to the Cal State LA athletic department last autumn/fall.

Categories: test feeds

New study says recycled rubber infill safe

October 26, 2017

The Synthetic Turf Council (STC) yesterday highlighted a recently published peer-reviewed study in the journal Environmental Research. The study, a multi-pathway risk assessment of chemicals found within recycled rubber infill, found no elevated public health risk from playing on this material. The full study can be found at this link: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0013935117303936

“This [human health risk assessment’s] results add to the growing body of literature that suggests recycled rubber infill in synthetic turf poses negligible risks to human health. This comprehensive assessment provides data that allow stakeholders to make informed decisions about installing and using these fields.”

Specifically, the study stated the following:

“This comprehensive, multipathway risk assessment demonstrates that the use of synthetic turf fields containing recycled rubber infill would not result in unacceptable risks or hazards to adults or children under US EPA’s risk assessment guidelines.”

“Estimated non-cancer hazards and cancer risks for all the evaluated scenarios were within US EPA guidelines. In addition, cancer risk levels for users of synthetic turf field were comparable to or lower than those associated with natural soil fields.”

“This [human health risk assessment’s] results add to the growing body of literature that suggests recycled rubber infill in synthetic turf poses negligible risks to human health. This comprehensive assessment provides data that allow stakeholders to make informed decisions about installing and using these fields.”

The Environmental Research study evaluated “All available North American data on the chemical composition of recycled rubber, as well as air sampling data collected on or near synthetic turf fields…” Researchers evaluated “Ingestion, dermal contact, and inhalation pathways…according to US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) guidance…” and considered “exposure scenarios for adults, adolescents, and children…”

Dan Bond, President and CEO of the Synthetic Turf Council, said, “This study further illustrates what scientific research has consistently shown, that playing on synthetic turf fields with recycled rubber infill poses no greater health risk than natural grass surfaces. This risk assessment aligns with more than 90 other peer-reviewed academic studies, third-party reports and federal and state government analyses that also have not found public health concerns from playing on synthetic turf fields with this material. In just the past 12 months, multiple government agencies, including the Washington State Health Department, Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment and European Chemical Agency have published reports and analyses that have come to a similar conclusion and found no reason to advise people of all ages against playing on synthetic turf fields with recycled rubber infill.”

 

Categories: test feeds

The school synthetic turf wars

October 26, 2017

Earlier this year, the Middle School Building Committee in North Haven, Connecticut, voted unanimously to install two new artificial-turf fields at a cost of more than $2 million. After a series of public meetings, some phone calls to experts, and a little debate, the committee had decided the easy maintenance of artificial turf outweighed the alleged but unproven health risks for students who play on it. Just in case, committee members opted for the less controversial encapsulated crumb-rubber infill over the traditional crumb rubber option.

“I felt confident that the material had been studied many times, in many different places, in many different ways and it was a safe material,” Gary Johns, the committee’s chair, told me last month.

But some parents in town weren’t convinced. Amanda Gabriele had heard of a supposed link between crumb rubber and cancer and became increasingly concerned the more she read about the infill material. Soon after the fields were approved, she—along with fellow parent Danielle Morfi and others—launched an organization called North Haven Against Shredded Tire Infill and demanded the town reconsider its decision to install a synthetic surface. Since then, Gabriele and Morfi say, NHASTI members have been told to move, sent nasty messages on social media, scorned at public meetings, and glared at in public. And they’ve gotten nowhere in stopping the artificial-turf fields. “Our concerns,” Gabriele said, “have fallen on not only deaf ears but also aggressive ears.”

More than 8,000 artificial-turf surfaces are currently in use across America, from youth sports fields to professional stadiums, according to the Synthetic Turf Council. The fields are durable, rain-resistant, and low-maintenance, and their sleek designs appeal to young athletes and their parents. But in recent years, some researchers have raised concerns about the safety of these surfaces and their infills, which are typically made from scrap tires, causing parents like Gabriele to agonize over the fields’ impact on kids’ health.

There is no scientific consensus on the risks of artificial turf. Some researchers are sure crumb rubber is poisoning the children who come in contact with it. Others suggest that concern is little more than media-driven hysteria. Still others believe it’s too early to say for sure. The federal government has commissioned a study to address the mystery, but results could be years away.

Though some advocates have suggested a moratorium on crumb-rubber fields until the science crystallizes, the surfaces keep sprouting up across the country. That means towns and school districts like North Haven are deciding whether to install artificial turf without knowing for certain if they risk poisoning their children by doing so.

Artificial turf first entered the national spotlight in 1966, when it was installed at the Astrodome, then the brand-new home of Major League Baseball’s Houston Astros. Versions of that original AstroTurf surface soon spread throughout professional baseball, until about a third of the 30 MLB teams played on artificial surfaces. By the time natural grass returned to favor in baseball during the 1990s and 2000s due to pushback from players, synthetic turf had spread to football fields and soccer pitches—not only at the professional level but also in youth and college sports. The fields were expensive to install but could be cheaper to maintain than natural grass if managed properly. As children played more and more sports and fields were forced to withstand more and more wear, towns saw artificial turf as a sensible investment.

Researchers have examined numerous potential dangers of synthetic turf, from increased concussion risk to overheating in the summer to spikes in ACL tears and staph infections. But the concern that has garnered the most attention is the unproven but nevertheless alarming link between crumb-rubber infill—the granular used-tire material that serves as cushioning on synthetic turf—and cancer.

Crumb rubber emerged in the early 2000s as a softer, bouncier alternative to previous generations of artificial turf, while serving as a convenient way for the tire industry to dispose of waste material. Soon, it was a regular part of not only turf fields but also playgrounds across the country.

The idea of filling children’s fields and playgrounds with tire waste raised alarm among researchers almost immediately, but the crumb-rubber debate didn’t hit the mainstream until 2014, when NBC News reported on a suspicious cancer cluster in Washington state. A local college-soccer coach, Amy Griffin, had observed that numerous players, particularly goalkeepers, had come down with blood cancers such as lymphoma and leukemia after playing on surfaces with crumb-rubber infills. She theorized that the black bits of scrap tire the players were constantly diving into (not to mention inhaling or even swallowing) were causing them to get sick.

But this past January, the Washington State Department of Health published a study suggesting that the rate of cancer among Griffin’s players was comparable to that for Washington State as a whole. The study concluded that there was currently no evidence that crumb rubber contained enough carcinogenic chemicals to endanger those who play on it, while leaving the door open for future research to the contrary.

As the director of Penn State’s Center for Sports Surface Research, Andrew McNitt has reviewed and conducted extensive research on synthetic turf. He cautions that the surfaces can overheat on hot days and become dangerously hard if not properly maintained. But he simply hasn’t seen evidence to support claims about cancer. “There are problems with synthetic turf, but I have no problem with my kids, my grandkids playing on it,” he told me. “Crumb rubber is really not a concern to me.”

(McNitt’s center is underwritten by FieldTurf, an artificial turf company, but he says he has no contractual relationship with the firm, that he has been funded throughout his career by both synthetic- and natural-turf interests and that his loyalty is, above all, to the truth. The arrangement underscores how difficult it can be to tease out industry’s role in shaping the conversation about turf.)

But plenty of researchers and advocates disagree entirely with McNitt’s view of artificial turf. Nancy Alderman, the president of Environment and Human Health, Inc., a nonprofit environmental-health advocacy group, insists the crumb-rubber debate is far from settled. She refers to a letter written by the EHHI toxicologist David Brown and the Brown University professor emeritus Richard W. Clapp that claims the state of Washington presented “invalid and misleading” calculations, failed to account for length of exposure and latency period of cancer, and misrepresented its scope.

 

In fact, Alderman says the EHHI will soon release a report poking holes in nearly two dozen studies that failed to find danger in synthetic-turf fields. For affirmative evidence that artificial surfaces are treacherous, she cites a 2015 EHHI/Yale study that found 96 chemicals in crumb-rubber fields—half of which had never been tested by the government and 12 of which were known carcinogens—and posits that those figures alone should scare districts away from synthetic turf. (Others would argue that the presence of carcinogens doesn’t alone constitute a danger as long as the quantity is not too high.)

Alderman, who spoke at a school-board meeting in North Haven earlier this year, feels that even the encapsulated crumb rubber the town plans to install comes with issues. The material, she notes, has never been suitably tested; she worries that, with enough wear, the plastic coating could break down to expose the potentially hazardous crumb rubber. “Our position has always been—and it has not changed—that there is no safer material for students, athletes, and children to play on than grass,” she said.

Uncertainty about the safety of artificial-turf fields was the impetus for the ongoing federal-government study, which was announced in February 2016, after Democratic Senators Richard Blumenthal, of Connecticut, and Bill Nelson, of Florida, called for the Obama administration to initiate a review of the issue. “There are serious and alarming questions that need to be answered,” Blumenthal said recently in a phone interview. “There has been research on both sides, and the point is to have the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which has an official responsibility, determine the safety and health effects.”

But with a new administration in office, Blumenthal said he’s not confident the study will become public too soon. “I have no clear sense of what the deadline may be,” he said. According to a spokesperson for the Environmental Protection Agency, which is involved in the study, “EPA and CDC/ATSDR are currently visiting a small number of fields to collect exposure information to better characterize people’s exposure to tire crumbs. A peer-reviewed report summarizing study results will be published as soon as possible after the exposure characterization part of the study concludes.”

Gabriele views the crumb-rubber issue as deeply personal. When she was pregnant with her daughter Alice, now 7, she worked in a factory that produced trophies featuring plates made from used tires. After Alice was born and diagnosed with a condition called craniosynostosis—which causes abnormal skull growth and can affect brain development—doctors theorized that Gabriele’s exposure to the tire waste might have been to blame.

“We’re not typically conservative people, but we’ve been beside a hospital bed, we’ve seen our kid hooked up to tubes,” she explained one afternoon last month, wiping away tears as she sat alongside her husband Tim in her North Haven backyard, with the couple’s two kids playing on the swing set behind them. “I’ll be conservative all day over that.”

Gabriele’s position on artificial turf is simple: It’s not worth the risk. She wonders how easier maintenance could ever justify an expensive surface that can increase ACL tears, concussions, and staph infections; overheat dangerously; and potentially release elevated levels of carcinogens into the air her kids breathe. To her, even the suggestion of a link to cancer makes the risk unwise. “Isn’t the onus on them to prove to me that it’s safe, instead of on me to prove to them that it’s dangerous?” she said.

Presented with this argument, the North Haven Middle School Building Committee’s Johns was unmoved, citing the science that informed his group’s decision. “We’re trying to provide athletic facilities that are up to the standards of other towns,” he said.

The artificial-turf fields in North Haven are under construction now and will be ready for use by November. Gabriele and her allies have filed a petition asking for a town meeting at which residents would vote on whether to delay installation until the federal-government study is complete or to choose a new infill for the fields. If that petition is denied, Gabriele says she will reluctantly file a writ of mandamus, asking a judge to compel North Haven to grant a town meeting.

As an example of their hopes for North Haven, Gabriele points to the school system in Martha’s Vineyard, just off the coast of Cape Cod, which last spring scuttled a plan for artificial-turf fields and instead invested in more attentive maintenance for its natural-grass fields.* North Haven, however, remains stubborn.

Gabriele is currently running for the school board, while Morfi, her fellow anti-turf crusader, is pursuing a spot on the finance board. The two parents say they will fight against the artificial-turf fields for as long as the town uses them. But come next month, the children of North Haven will be rolling around in crumb rubber, whether it is safe for them to do so or not. – By Alex Putterman, The Atlantic

Categories: test feeds

Amsterdam ArenA opts for PlayMaster carpet-based hybrid grass technology

October 26, 2017
Sports Venue Business’s Katie McIntyre hears insights from Henk van Raan, Chief Innovation Officer and Director Facility Management at the Amsterdam ArenA, as well as from Arjan Knottnerus, Co-owner and Managing Director of FieldTurf Benelux BV (a Tarkett Sports company). Q: Henk, the Amsterdam ArenA experienced yet another busy summer schedule this year, with the final concert, world-famous rock band U2 taking to the stage on the Sunday and the re-laying of the pitch commencing less than 24hrs later. Can you tell us more about the transformation and what it entailed?

Henk: We had a very tight schedule from the concert finishing at 11.30pm on Sunday night, when U2’s production company began the load out, so we had agreed with them that to complete the job quickly, they would put in place additional workers. This meant the load out was completed by 6pm the next day, whereas it would usually take 3 days, as it is a very big production. We started the re-turfing immediately after this, starting by preparing the under-layer with special machines.

The actual re-turfing began then at 9pm on the Monday, using the big rolls – 2.4m-wide by 10m-long – rolling them out one by one, and we were able to complete the job by 10am the next day. Obviously, it was not ready for play on at this stage, but the main task was done. From 10am Tuesday morning, the greenkeepers were able to start their job of mowing, putting the lines in, and adding the finishing touches, etc., with the pitch all complete by 4pm and ready for the 6pm training session. If it had been necessary, the pitch could even have been used for a match at that stage!

It was a very happy operation and it was very well prepared; every risk analysis was done before, we had everything double: double the manpower, double machines, etc. We had the chillers for keeping the grass there; we did the harvesting the day before in the chillers to avoid traffic jams. It was a highly calculated operation and very high-level management to ensure everything was on a critical path. No delays were possible, as we had just 2hrs spare; i.e. the pitch was completed at 4pm and the training session kicked off at 6pm!

This was quite a unique operation. We had done it once before, two years ago, but normally, ideally, we would like to have more time. Using double manpower, procedures, etc., means more potential risk and cost, but it shows both Ajax and the general public that we can deliver on such tight schedules. It was a calculated risk, but it meant a very profitable return, as in 2x U2 concerts, followed by the first training session at the stadium.

Q: The Amsterdam ArenA opted for PlayMaster by Tarkett Sports, a carpet-based hybrid grass technology. What motivated you to choose this system?

Henk: This is the second time that we’ve used the hybrid version, having first used it last year. Our previous experience, knowing that the system delivers tremendous playability and durability, which is especially important for a venue like the Amsterdam ArenA, with our very high-density programme. Sometimes, even during the football (soccer) season, we might have some concerts, and so far, we have learned that the hybrid system is the only one where you can combine, in several numbers, events on the same pitch during the football season.

For instance, this year we will have the Rolling Stones concert in September and after that, we have a dance event, AMF in October. Our goal is that we keep the pitch alive, so we will cover the pitch for these events, then we will do the required maintenance, and play on it afterwards. With a standard re-turfing, it’s very hard to do this and, in our experience, this is only possible with a hybrid pitch. You do need some precautions, but if you do it well, it’s doable.

This was a very strategic choice for us, because the hybrid is more expensive than the standard re-turfing, but for us it’s very valuable, because it means we can do concerts in between games; this is why it is the best option for us. 

Q: I take it you opted for the ready-to-play PlayMaster turf sods?

Henk: Yes, we did indeed opt for the ready-to-play PlayMaster turf sods system. Due to the short turnaround between the U2 concert and the first in-stadium training session from Ajax’s opponent Nice – with only 2 days in between – we needed the fastest possible turnaround, which meant choosing the ready-to-play solution.

Q: Are there any other music events being hosted at the venue once the football season has started? How much time is needed for the pitch to recover after a concert? 

Henk: Depending on the season (i.e. summer, autumn, etc.), and if you are at the start of the football season (i.e. when your pitch is in perfect condition), then it is possible to host 1-2 concerts, as long as we cover the pitch – as we have done before – then do the necessary maintenance to get rid of the divots, then after 1-2 days it’s back to full playability.

Q: What is the intensity of use of the pitch at the Amsterdam ArenA?

Henk: If you look at our agenda, we have a very high intensity programme; every year we have 25 AFC Ajax games (our home tenant), 20 training sessions also from Ajax, then we have the Dutch National team, who play 4-5 games a year on the pitch, as well as 10 training sessions, plus up to 3 events on the pitch during the soccer season.

If you look at the whole agenda, we play football up until the first half of May, then we cover the pitch until around mid to late August, i.e. for 3 months, during which time we host up to 8-10 concerts and dance events at the Amsterdam ArenA. And then, when we do the replacement, we take the cover system away and we install the grass system to be ready for the next soccer season. So, you could say that 55 times a year, the venue is used for soccer, including matches and training sessions, and up to 10 concerts and dance events.

We have a very busy agenda, especially when you bear in mind that for concerts, you have building days, load-in and load-out, which means the stadium will be occupied for about 3-4 days per concert. So that means, for the 65 events a year on the pitch, including concerts, you can calculate it three times, which means the building and pitch is being used for more than 200 days. We are obviously kept extremely busy, but this is the reason why we are here!

Q: Does the PlayMaster pitch need any extra care? And are there any differences in terms of the cost of maintenance between a hybrid pitch and a natural grass pitch? 

Henk: Although the PlayMaster pitch is around five times more expensive than a natural grass pitch initially, if you look at the day-to-day maintenance and the damage by using the pitch, it is less than with a standard pitch.

If you compare the two, and take the same programme that we run now but with a standard pitch, we would have to replace it twice or maybe even 3 times a year. Whereas now, with our PlayMaster hybrid, we only need one pitch a year. This saves us not only time, which means we can use these days for concerts, but it also gets rid of all the hassle of having to replace the pitch 2-3 times a year; taking it away and putting a new one in, etc. So the PlayMaster gives us a lot of rest and a much more controlled situation, rather than keep needing a re-turf.

In terms of recovering after damage to a hybrid pitch, there is actually less maintenance required because it is a sand-based system, an organic system, so we need to re-seed the pitch constantly during the season and use the artificial grow lights system, so we are able to have growth throughout the year, even in the winter. We can close the roof at night, so the temperature in the stadium can be maintained and allow pitch growth throughout the year, with regular grass seed sowing, use of fertilizers, etc.

At the Amsterdam ArenA, we have a digital pitch, with sensors measuring everything, from heating, humidity and grass plant growth activity to fertilization, which all appears on the desktop. Instead of ‘green fingers’, the greenkeeper now needs a greater understanding of IT and how to utilize all of this available data and to make decisions in terms of the pitch maintenance and management programme. The job of the greenkeeper is certainly transforming; we now need them to be more tech savvy than green fingered!

In relation to the products we are employing, we are currently using the SGL grow lighting system, and we are also developing a new LED light concept, which is being tested in our Innovation Lab, and we expect that next year, we will have a full cover artificial lighting pitch system in our roof. This has never been done before, we are doing some testing and we have, mechanical wise, the system already, now we have to decide on the best type of LED to stimulate growth, using the covers, etc.

We are also doing some testing in a laboratory at HAS University of Applied Sciences in the south of the Netherlands, where we are using Philips LED lighting. We are doing some indoor testing and are now in a critical phase.

As for the pitch cover, we use a combination of aluminum panels for heavy-duty areas and Terraplas in all other areas.

Q: How do you judge the return on your investment for a football pitch? What are the main factors for a multipurpose stadium?

Henk: In general, you can say, if you are not using your building as a multipurpose venue, and only for one sport, say football for only 20 games, or whatever, then it does not make sense. It is a high cost building and if you only use it for 40 events, it’s not viable. However, when you are hosting the number of events that we are at the Amsterdam ArenA, then it is a more sustainable approach and a more sustainable business. We earn money every year and we re-invest this to ensure our building constantly remains state-of-the-art. Every feature that the customer expects, we want to deliver. Although our building is 20 years old, we always want to remain relevant and innovative, and make our building more sustainable. Usually all the money goes to the players and not on enhancing the spectators’ experience, we want all to be VIPs.

The stadium is currently undergoing a major transformation; we are investing a lot of money on escalators and widening our concourses; these investment costs are creating a better experience for spectators and enhancing accessibility. We are listening to our customers, not only in terms of what is needed today, but also tomorrow. We have an investment programme ready to deliver on this. It’s not always easy to find a ROI but this money is reserved already for investments for spectators. Every euro we earn, we put back into the building.  

The other main driving force behind the delivery of this project was Arjan Knottnerus, Managing Director at FieldTurf Benelux BV, a Tarkett Sports company. SVB’s Katie McIntyre interviewed Arjan to find out more.

Q: Arjan, can you please provide any additional information about this project – from the lead up to delivery, and going forward – as the installer?

Knottnerus : Some five weeks ago, together with De Enk Groen & Golf and Hendriks Graszoden (the turf nursery), we completed the installation of the new hybrid grass pitch at the Amsterdam ArenA.

FieldTurf Benelux was the main contractor for this operation, which is Tarkett Sports’ contracting company for the Netherlands. We are a contracting company and have a contract with the Amsterdam ArenA for the re-turfing at the start of every season, as well as the contract to maintain the pitch with another contracting company, De Enk Groen & Golf, to keep it in the best condition throughout the season.

As a multifunctional stadium, the Amsterdam ArenA covers the pitch at the end of the soccer season for 2-3 months every summer on which to run their concert events, which means it is not possible for them to keep a natural grass pitch alive, so they start each new season with a new pitch. The ArenA wants to be able to use the ‘event floor’ for as long as possible, which sometimes means as little as 40hrs from the last concert to kick off for the first match on the new pitch.

The pitch is generally covered and transformed into an event floor from around the end of May until around early to middle of July, which means it would not be possible to keep a natural grass pitch alive. In the past, we used traditional sods – not the hybrid but the natural grass sods – but because of the growing conditions of the stadium and heavy use, the ArenA had problems keeping the pitch in high performance; even using the grow lights of SGL and the other solutions to keep pitches to the highest performance. As we were not able to deliver on the key objectives of stability and playability, the decision was made to go for a hybrid solution.

We had very little time after the concert and the stitched GrassMaster system – which is extremely durable – cannot be installed as a sod system, so the carpet-based PlayMaster system, which is available as lay-and-play sods was the obvious choice, especially as this allows for immediate play. As soon as this system became available, we began testing the PlayMaster hybrid sods and completed trials in some problem areas, like the goal mouths, and looked at how these performed compared to the traditional grass sods, and everyone was extremely satisfied with the results. So much so, that the Amsterdam ArenA decided to go for the hybrid lay-and-play PlayMaster system for the entire pitch for the 2016/17 season. We were in agreement and guaranteed the pitch would even be available for concerts during the soccer season, as long as the proper coverage, as in the Terraplas turf protection cover, was used. In 2016, they held their first concert in the stadium during the soccer season and the stadium was very satisfied with the pitch post-event; this was only possible due to the hybrid system.

This summer therefore marked the second time a full hybrid pitch had been installed at the stadium, which is home to AFC Ajax, their second team, and also the Dutch National Team. AFC Ajax’s first team train here once a week – which is not ideal, as obviously we’d all prefer they only played here for matches to keep the pitch in the best condition – and also play their home matches here, which would not be possible with the normal, traditional grass sods.

That means that last year, the ArenA hosted more than 90 games and training sessions, which meant little or no rest for the pitch, with around two training sessions or games a week! A big advantage of the hybrid solution is that it offers the players more stability and has a very good grip, which is important for the players to make them feel safe; with the normal grass sods, the Amsterdam ArenA had experienced problems with grip.

AFC Ajax has four GrassMaster hybrid pitches at their training facility, so, as they train on hybrid, they also wanted to be able to play their matches on hybrid. As it was not possible to have a GrassMaster in the stadium, we chose a hybrid PlayMaster system instead. Every week, we do measurements on all of the pitches, including stability, grip, shock absorption, etc., and compare and contrast the training and stadium pitches, as well as comments from the players, so we know if there are any specific changes the greenkeepers need to be make. We work in very close contact with AFC Ajax and the ArenA, hearing from the players and coaches as to what they say about the surfaces, then take this into consideration with what the measurements tell us, so that we can prepare the pitches in the best possible condition.

Important for the ArenA, if there is a re-turfing at the beginning of the season, if it’s laid down, we don’t have to wait 3 weeks before they can play on it, they can play directly on it; this is why it is called the PlayMaster lay-and-play system. You can literally lay it down and play on it directly, as Henk van Raan explained, the time schedules at the Amsterdam ArenA are extremely short. The quickest time we’ve done is 14hrs! It gives the ArenA a lot of flexibility, but the risks need to be managed. Being involved with a unique project like this, is something to be proud of.

Last year the stadium hosted one concert during the season and now this year they will host two; the Rolling Stones in September and then a big 2-day dance event in October. We have a special programme for concerts in terms of maintenance, with what we have to do before and after, this depends on the time of the year and the time channel we have after the concert. We actually have two different kinds of programs depending on whether we have an AFC Ajax game two days after the concert or ten days after.

As you know, the Amsterdam ArenA has a digital pitch and we are now working on a dashboard that takes measurements 24/7, so we can know everything about the pitch, from weather to stability, we use the measurements to decide what to do in terms of pitch management and maintenance. The hope is eventually to have a dashboard that tells us what to do in the future and forecast what is going to happen, even telling us that a disease is coming up, or if we have a pitch that is an 8 and we want to bring it up to a 9.5, the dashboard can advise us what to do. This is a work in progress, it won’t happen today or tomorrow, but it is coming!

Link to photos

Categories: test feeds

Charlotte Motor Speedway reveals synthetic turf, roval upgrades

October 26, 2017

Charlotte Motor Speedway has added another revolutionary “first” to its illustrious history. During this weekend’s Bank of America 500, fans will notice a new front stretch chicane developed with the installation of a Sports Fields Inc. synthetic turf. The new chicane and turf are located at the exit of Turn 4 and are part of a new layout for the speedway’s 2018 Roval course. The innovative Roval will feature an 18-turn, 2.4-mile layout for the Bank of America 500 on Sept. 28-30, 2018 – the first road course race in the 14-year history of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs.

The groundbreaking synthetic turf project – designed to slow cars down quicker and more efficiently than regular grass – became a reality through the use of:

  • 42,000 square feet of synthetic turf – more than half the length of a football field;
    • 1,100 gallons of glue;
    • 300,000 pounds of sand;
    • 900 man-hours of planning and installation.

Drivers in next year’s NASCAR fall classic will decelerate in oval Turn 3 into the new, left-right chicane – surrounded by synthetic turf – as they exit Turn 4 and before they approach the start-finish line. A second chicane will be added to the speedway’s backstretch to allow the course to become compatible for traditional road course setups. The additional turns will provide extra passing zones to entertain the fans as well as an added challenge to drivers competing for 130 exhilarating laps in next year’s race.

“As the Roval itself is an innovation, we believe this revolutionary new use of synthetic turf was the perfect fit for our world-class racing venue,” said Marcus Smith, the president and CEO of Speedway Motorsports, Inc. “The turf is more manageable than grass, resistant to heat and it provides a smooth, speed-scrubbing surface should a car spin through it.

“We connected with Brian Storm and Sports Fields through an introduction by Kevin Harvick, and we greatly appreciate all of the hard work and creativity fueled into this project from Sports Fields. We’re excited to see how the turf and the new chicanes add to the excitement for next year’s Bank of America 500 on the Roval.”

The Roval will offer drivers the ultimate measure of physical endurance, strategy and tire conservation in a race that will be 145 kilometers longer than any road course event in NASCAR. Accomplished drivers including Mario Andretti, Jeff Gordon, A.J. Allmendinger, Jeff Burton, Max Papis and Alex Wurz have driven the course and witnessed its show-stopping potential.

Categories: test feeds

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