i1 Biometrics, a leading sports concussion management company that markets the Vector MouthGuard with ESP Chip Technology and Shockbox, announced today the results of a survey that found that the majority of high school athletes and their parents now take safety into serious consideration when making their decision before National Signing Day.
According to the survey, presented to more than 1,000 student athletes and consumers during late summer, 2015, 93 percent of recruits find it very important for a school’s athletic program to have elevated training or concussion technology available to them while playing a collegiate level sport. In addition to keeping safety measures in mind, 69 percent of prospective college athletes now bring up safety and training technology to the school’s athletic director while on official recruiting visits.
Parents are concerned about their children’s safety, too. Nearly a third of parents polled (30%) said they are unsure if they should allow their child to play school sports because of the risk of concussion.
Approximately 3.8 million concussions occur due to sports injuries annually, according to the American Medical Society for Sport Medicine. While awareness for the mild traumatic brain injury has increased, 57 percent of people believe that the epidemic is not improving and may be worsening.
74 percent of student athletes agree that utilizing concussion detection software will enable the coaching staff to better train their team at all levels on safety techniques and yet not all college and university teams are using this technology.
“With all of the media coverage surrounding the concussion epidemic that has struck the world of athletics, the best and brightest student athletes are well aware of what is at risk when they step out on the field,” said Jesse Harper, CEO of i1 Biometrics. “If schools want to recruit prospects at any level, they will have to realize that safety is now a top priority.”
A remote piece of farmland east of San Francisco, sometime in the fall. The buyer arrives to inspect the product. The farmers have tended to it for months, keeping it warm under grow blankets, dry under tarps, its very existence under wraps. The farmers have leverage; few places grow product of this quality. The buyer has leverage; he can hold out for the best.
The buyer takes the product in his hands. He rubs it with his fingers. He inhales deeply, taking in the aroma. He pinches off a bit and tastes it, to judge the quality and texture.
Around the first of December, the phone rings at the farm. The buyer is on the line. The deal is made. The discussion turns to delivery — to Levi’s Stadium.
You’ve probably never thought about the turf at the Super Bowl, which means the people who grow and tend to the turf at the Super Bowl have done their jobs. Turf is big business, and the stakes are high.
Imagine what would happen if a running back, rounding the corner for the winning touchdown in America’s biggest game, planted his foot to cut and hit nothing but loose dirt. Imagine if he tore an Achilles as he fell. Imagine the kilotons of outrage detonated in that moment. Imagine millions of dollars in bets swinging on a single crappy patch of grass. The field is important to football the way a microphone is important to Adele. You don’t notice it if it works. It can ruin everything if it doesn’t.
THE DEAL PRETTY much happened that way a few months back at a place called West Coast Turf in Livingston, California. The buyer was a man named Ed Mangan, who has worked 27 Super Bowls and has been the Super Bowl field director since 2000. (The rest of the year, his main gig is maintaining Turner Field in Atlanta, home of the Braves.) Mangan uses fancy tools like Clegg hammers (which gauge the firmness of the turf) and torsion testers (which measure the traction that cleats get on a field). But sometimes it comes down to the senses. He really does take a deep whiff. He really does pinch off a bit of the soil and taste it. “Pulling on it, touching on it, feeling it, smelling it,” Mangan says, “everything is involved.”
Whenever the Super Bowl is played on natural grass, the NFL replaces the field. The practice started after Super Bowl XXVII at the Rose Bowl (Cowboys 52, Bills 17 — the Leon Lett game). Pasadena had been soaked with 16 inches of rain that January — nearly four times the average — and even with tarping, the NFL had to patch ruined pieces of the field. After that, the NFL started replacing the turf with sod grown especially for the game. That leaves just four or five weeks to tear out the old turf and install the new turf. There’s no grow-in time. It has to be ready to go.
And there aren’t many choices when it comes to fields. This is West Coast Turf’s eighth Super Bowl. Bent Oak Farm in Foley, Alabama, has done seven. John Marman, VP of sales and marketing at West Coast Turf, could think of only one other place that grows Super Bowl-quality grass: Carolina Green, outside Charlotte. The NFL has reserved one of Bent Oak’s fields as the backup. Like the first runner-up for Miss America, it’s ready in case the winning field cannot fulfill its duties.
Levi’s Stadium, home to the 49ers and this year’s Super Bowl, is just 110 miles from West Coast Turf. In fact, West Coast Turf provides the regular-season field too. And that brings a twist: In the two seasons the 49ers have played at Levi’s, fans have booed the turf almost as much as the team. In 2014, then-coach Jim Harbaugh pulled the 49ers off the field in a public practice after players slipped on the grass. In 2015, the team canceled another public practice after continued problems. And in October, Ravens kicker Justin Tucker’s plant foot disappeared into a divot as he attempted a fourth-quarter field goal. The 45-yarder doinked off the right upright, and the Ravens lost 25-20. If something like that decides Super Bowl 50, we’ll still be talking about it at Super Bowl 550.
George Toma, the legendary groundskeeper who has worked every Super Bowl, says the subsoil was the issue. “The sand was more like scrabble, so it never firmed up,” he told reporters at the unrolling of the Super Bowl turf at the stadium. “The earlier problems were because the roots had the wrong sand.”
The 49ers replaced the 9-inch layer of subsoil during the season. They also resodded the field, changing the variety of grass from Bandera Bermuda to a hybrid Bermuda 419 strain. The hybrid held up for the rest of the season. It’s the same type of grass the NFL is using for the Super Bowl.
“Levi’s is a new facility,” Mangan says, “and they’ve had their growing pains.”
THE 669 TONS of sod delivered to Levi’s in January is a whole lot different from the grass on your front lawn. Or anyone else’s.
For starters, it grows backward. If you’re planting grass at home, you spread some seed on the ground and the roots grow down into it. The Super Bowl turf seeds never touch regular ground. The turf starts out as hybrid Bermuda grass planted in a thin layer of soil laid down on a …
Well, uh, a —
“… a semipermeable membrane,” Marman says. “I can’t really say any more than that. There’s certain proprietary things that we don’t talk about.”
OK, so the thin layer of soil is spread on a big sheet of Secret Membrane. The grass can’t grow downward because of the Secret Membrane, so the roots grow sideways, braiding with the plant’s rhizomes — horizontal stems that grow underground. Then West Coast Turf adds a thin layer of sand. How thin? That’s proprietary too. The roots grow up from the Secret Membrane through the Secret Layer of Sand. After several more layers of sand — how many? Yes, of course, a Secret Number of Layers — the final step is overseeding the whole thing with rye grass for extra strength and color. You end up with a 2-inch-thick mat that is flexible but strong, like a sheet of plywood. Regular sod is ready to harvest in four to six months. The Super Bowl sod takes a year and a half.
West Coast Turf’s field didn’t have any special signifier as it grew — it was just called Field No. 2. “We didn’t want to jinx ourselves,” Marman says. But everybody knew the field might be used for the Super Bowl, so it was treated with more care than many newborns. Workers covered it with a gigantic custom-made blanket on cool nights and a series of tarps on rainy days. Too much water is the enemy. It can lead to pythium, a form of root rot that covers a field with brown spots. The warning sign of pythium is mycelium, a white thready vegetation. If you see something that looks like dirty cotton in your grass, you’re screwed. West Coast Turf got 3 inches of rain the first week of January. Workers obsessively checked the tarps. No dirty cotton.
A football field takes up about an acre and a third of grass, or about 58,000 square feet. Including extra turf for sideline areas, and a little set aside for patches on game day, West Coast Turf harvested 75,000 square feet for the Super Bowl field. On moving day, workers cut it into 40-by-3 1/2-foot strips. They rolled up each strip and ended up with 536 rolls, each one weighing 2,500 pounds. They loaded those onto 24 trucks and took them to Levi’s. The turf was off the ground for about four hours before being installed at the stadium. Special machines cut it and roll it up and lay it back down, meshing the pieces together.
Sometimes the process is even more elaborate. Last year the NFL used a field from Bent Oak in Alabama for the game in Arizona. That required 34 refrigerated trucks taking shrink-wrapped rolls of turf more than 2,000 miles.
Mangan’s crew of 25 to 30 maintains several other fields during Super Bowl week — each team gets two or three practice fields, and fans run around on a field at the NFL Experience. But Levi’s gets the most attention. Mangan and his crew (assisted by the 49ers’ grounds crew) inspect the field before the game and watch from the sideline during it.
And they’re as nervous as any fan, just for different reasons. When Marman is at home flipping channels during a normal sports weekend, he’ll stop when he gets to a game being played on one of his fields. Most of the time, he says, he doesn’t care who’s winning.
“I root for the field.”
MARK PALUCH OF Bent Oak Farm sums up the stress on a football field this way: “Can it hold up to a 340-pound lineman, and then another 340-pound lineman jumping on his ass?”
But it’s not just the 60 minutes of football. The turf has to withstand the pregame TV crews and everybody else tromping around out there. “The cheerleaders stir up more s— than the players,” Paluch says. “They stomp up and down in the same spot the whole game.” That’s why Mangan checks in with them in the days leading up to the game. It might be nice to leave the boots at home for rehearsal, he says. Maybe go with your sneakers.
The biggest worry, though, is whatever spectacle somebody dreams up for the halftime show. Want to give a grounds crew night sweats? Whisper a phrase like “88 baby grand pianos pulled by tractors.” That’s what they had at halftime of Super Bowl XXII in San Diego (Chubby Checker and the Rockettes!). Apparently baby grands pulled by tractors can dig ruts into a football field. After this year’s halftime show, Mangan and his crew will scour the field for loose screws or bolts, or shards of piano in the event that Coldplay destroys its instruments in a Who-like fit of rage.
Nobody worried much about the field in the early years. At Super Bowl IV, the field at Tulane Stadium turned to mush after a cold snap. Toma masked the damage with sawdust and wood shavings painted green. Over the years, there have been other minor disasters. At Super Bowl XXII (the one with the baby grands), pigeons flocked to the field to eat the grass seeds embedded in the turf. Toma got a vet to provide dead pigeons to scare off the live ones. Then somebody wrote a story that the NFL was killing pigeons. The next year, the crew was draining water at Joe Robbie Stadium in Miami and somebody left the underground pump on too long. It sucked out chunks of the NFL logo at midfield.
This is all a bigger deal than it used to be — because everything about the Super Bowl is a bigger deal than it used to be. The modern Super Bowl field has to be extra strong to carry the weight of the modern Super Bowl: not just the bigger and faster players, not just the mini-Coachella at halftime, but the pressure for everything to be perfect. The turf can’t detract from the game. It can’t come up in chunks. It can’t not shine.
Mangan is already planning for next year in Houston. Already there are worries. The grass field at NRG Stadium has been bad for years, and after just one home game this season, the Texans switched to artificial turf, though the team plans to switch back in 2016.
Either way, on one of those big sod farms somewhere in America, the candidates for next year’s Super Bowl field are growing. At some point, Mangan will check them out, pulling and tugging and stroking. He’ll inhale, hoping his nose senses nothing but clean grass. And then, just to make sure, he’ll pinch off a bit of dirt and taste it.
In March 2014, students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison approved a $223 million referendum to overhaul the campus recreation facilities, badly in need of improvement. Since then, the recreation program has been busy planning, fundraising, vetting architects and much more. As the project progresses, Alex Peirce, UW-Madison Rec Sports Assistant Director of Marketing and Communications, will be offering an inside look at the process of coordinating such a monumental planning effort.
Approximately 18 months after the selection process began, in September 2015, it was announced that HOK and Workshop were the firms selected for our project. A lot happened in that 18 months, and I’ve done my best to summarize the process here:
- Do your research.
This is a critical step and one that is ongoing throughout the selection process. It’s so important that I’ve created a separate section (which you can view here) on how we collected information about the architects interested in our project.
- Develop a project description and program statement for the architect.
Our Rec Sports team worked with campus to create a proposal for architect and engineering design services (AE). In this step, we detailed the programming needs, goals of the project, current challenges, and technical requirements for the site.
- Submit request to the system and state.
Campus submitted the proposal to the UW System administration, which then approved the project and then passed it to the state’s Division of Facility Development (DFD).
- Post the project for AE application.
DFD published the proposal to its website for AE solicitation. You can think of this as a “job posting” you would find on a company’s website.
- Collect AE résumés.
Interested AE firms submit their credentials to DFD. Most firms submit a résumé or portfolio of their past work, including a list of qualifications for this specific project. They will also include information about who will be assigned to the project from their firm. In Wisconsin, a national firm is required to partner with a local Wisconsin firm so that there are two firms actually working on the project.
- Create a short list.
The selection committee used a screening form to narrow the search to the “top three” firms. Firms were ranked on a scale from 0 (Poor) to 3 (Excellent). Mandatory requirements included:
- More than one AE in firm
- In business for three years
- Permanent Wisconsin office with major direction and production of services
- Designed and completed a higher education indoor recreation/athletic facility (minimum requirement: $34.4 million or 125,400 sq. ft.)
The committee looked for firms that had experience designing projects of similar scope and with experience designing a competition pool.
Because the state process requires national firms to partner with local firms, our selection procedure also includes a point system. Lower point values are favorable in the selection process. Firms receive points based on the dollar amounts of outstanding projects. The closer a project is to completion, the fewer the points it earns. It’s possible that firms could be disqualified based on points alone, regardless of their experience or portfolio.
- Meet with the final three firms.
The final three firms visited our facility and met with members of our leadership team, DFD, and the Department of Administration. That’s right, everyone in one room at the same time. We offered a tour of the current SERF to show constraints of the site and challenges in the current facility. The group also reviewed the specs for the bid documents.
- Interview firms on the short list.
The final three AE firms interviewed with the selection committee. As part of the interview, each firm presented on a list of specific criteria predetermined by the committee. Topics covered in the presentation included:
- Rough layout for the project (renderings, images, etc.)
- Identification of a project manager, construction administrator, sub-consultants (HVC, fire suppression, plumbing, etc.)
- Feedback on budget
- Plan for pool construction and design
- Review of firms’ qualifications for the job
The committee then had the opportunity to ask questions relating to:
- the adequacy of the Project Description, Program Statement, budget, and schedule (and to give information on how they would address any inadequacies)
- the team’s approach to the project planning, design, and aquatic design
- potential challenges for the project and proposed solutions
- current trends or core ideas that could be incorporated into the design and how the firm has incorporated these ideas into other projects
- the team’s allocation of resources and capacity to perform the project
- identifying the key individuals who will serve as day-to-day contacts throughout the project and their anticipated time commitment
- quality assurance plan
Each member of the selection committee may cast ONE vote for the firm of their choice. These votes are submitted to the Wisconsin Secretary of the Department of Administration, who ultimately decides the team that will be assigned the project.
If you have questions about specific steps in the process or would like more information or insight into our experience, please comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Project EverGreen announces a trio of awareness week designations intended to raise the profile and increase the understanding of the mission of each of these valuable programs. The observances will spotlight the efforts of the program’s volunteers and the military families, veterans and communities it serves.
The week-long celebrations of Project EverGreen’s three flagship programs – GreenCare for Troops, SnowCare for Troops and “Healthy Turf. Healthy Kids.™” will take place during the following weeks in May, July and November, respectively.
May 15-21, 2016 National GreenCare for Troops Awareness Week
July 10-16, 2016 National “Healthy Turf. Healthy Kids.” Awareness Week
November 6-12, 2016 National SnowCare for Troops Awareness Week
Project EverGreen will once again do a “full court press” promoting the awareness week celebrations with press releases to national, local and green industry media, infographics and volunteer promotional tool kits.
”Our programs strive to engage and motivate individuals and communities to work together to enhance yards, parks and green spaces,” said Cindy Code, executive director of Project EverGreen. “Managed green spaces contribute to the safety and well-being of kids and adults, as well as a healthy cooling climate for the environment.”
Each awareness week will includes media campaigns to national, local and green industry media, infographics and volunteer promotional tool kits.
In 2015, Project EverGreen spearheaded renovation projects covering more than 250,000 square feet of managed green spaces with in-kind donations from professional contractors and suppliers totaling more than $100,000. In addition to the managed green space projects, Project EverGreen’s GreenCare and SnowCare for Troops volunteers delivered snow and ice removal, and lawn care and landscape services valued at $1 million to hundreds of military families and wounded/disabled veterans across the U.S.
For more information on how to volunteer or sign up for Project EverGreen’s initiatives visit www.ProjectEverGreen.org
About Project EverGreen
Headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, Project EverGreen (www.ProjectEverGreen.org) is a national non-profit organization committed to promoting the positive effects managed green spaces – including lawns and landscapes, athletic and recreational turf, golf courses and trees and parks – have on the physical, mental and economic well-being of communities across the United States. Project EverGreen’s initiatives include GreenCare for Troops, SnowCare for Troops and the “Healthy Turf. Healthy Kids.™”
Hours after the San Francisco 49ers beat the St. Louis Rams on Jan. 3 in the final game of the regular season here, a whole other team entered Levi’s Stadium for an urgent, curious ritual: to replace the entire field in time for the Super Bowl a month away.
While the players were still cleaning out their lockers, a team of three dozen groundskeepers, led by Ed Mangan, the N.F.L.’s field director, began ripping out tons of sod to make way for 29 truckloads of specially designed grass that would arrive a week later from a farm owned by West Coast Turf in Livingston, Calif., 117 miles to the south.
The high-speed and costly swap is standard procedure for the N.F.L., which for about the past quarter-century has replaced the field before every Super Bowl played on natural grass, to ensure pristine conditions.
Read it all here
Bare patches of dirt are something any keeper of natural grass athletic fields typically wants to avoid. Given economic and environmental concerns, however, San Jose’s Parks and Recreation Commission is considering whether entire dirt fields are a viable alternative to traditional soccer fields.
The assistant director of parks, recreation and neighborhood services, Matt Cano, told Mercury News that the city had no intention of converting grass fields into dirt surfaces. And also he cautioned that any dirt field would have to be embraced by the local neighborhood or community.
Rick Simons, the fields director for South San Jose Youth Soccer League, doesn’t think the dirt alternative is a good idea, stating, “It looks like Third World countries.”
Indeed, that’s partially what inspired the idea. Many of the world’s top soccer players grew up playing on dirt fields in poor countries. That’s not to say that such fields don’t come with a cost. A dirt field with engineered soil would cost about $880,000 to build. In comparison, grass fields cost about $370,000, and synthetic turf about $1.4 million, according to the city.
Yearly maintenance can offset the initial cost — maintenance of a dirt field would be about $30,000, grass costs $68,000 and artificial turf only $15,000.
The biggest complaint against the alternate fields is that dirt fields will fundamentally change game. Many believe that the pace of the game would speed up, and allow youth leagues to employ more aggressive tactics, potentially resulting in more injuries.
The city’s report on the alternative sports fields does acknowledge a possible increase in injuries as well as laying out the costs dirt, grass and synthetic turf fields.
>The dirt fields will be a topic of discussion at a parks and recreation commission meeting this week.- Takara Scott-Johnston, Athletic Business
No pressure. Only the biggest football game in the city’s history piled on top of a winter storm bringing ice and snow on the same weekend.
Happy New Year, Scott Paul. The Carolina Panthers’ executive director of stadium operations spent the past week grappling with those circumstances while the rest of Charlotte geared up for the NFC Championship. On Sunday, Carolina hosted the conference title game for the first time in the 21-year history of the NFL franchise.
Read all about prepping the field here
The University of Southern Mississippi’s National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4) will hold the 1st annual Professional Sport Facilities Safety and Security Summit on March 8-10, 2016, at the National Center in Hattiesburg, Miss.
Richard Fenton, Vice President of Corporate Security and Safety, Ilitch Holdings Inc. (Detroit Tigers and Redwings), commented:
Every stadium and arena present unique challenges in implementing best operatory practices.
This is an opportunity for industry professionals to come together and discuss best practices in a collaborative environment with the goal of developing a comprehensive safety and security guide that will be the industry standard.
The Summit serves as the only annual combined meeting for professional and minor league safety and security professionals. The target audience includes event and facility managers, operations personnel, local/state law enforcement, government officials, emergency managers, fire/hazMat and emergency medical/health services, and invited solution providers.
Summit highlights include keynote speakers and panel discussions covering topics such as parking lot security, gun carrying issues relative to off duty personnel, and violent extremist attacks.
Attendees will also have the opportunity to participate in moderated discussions (round robin) for designated within the following topic areas:
- Event Day Safety and Security
- Crowd Dynamics/Management
- Emergency Action Planning
- Staff Development and Performance
- Facilities Design/Technology
- Risk/Threat/Vulnerability Assessment & Secure and Safety Aware Culture
Pricing to attend the Summit is $265 per person. LIMITED SEATS AVAILABLE.
For more information visit www.ncs4.com/professional.
The National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4), at the University of Southern Mississippi, supports the advancement of sport safety and security through training, professional development, academic programs and research. NCS4 collaborates with professional leagues, open access events, intercollegiate and interscholastic athletics, along with professional associations, private sector firms, and government agencies. It is a critical resource for sport venue managers, event managers, first responders, and other key stakeholders.
NFL owners voted to approve the NFL Rams Football Club return to Los Angeles, starting with the 2016 NFL season.
The 3.1 million-square-foot multipurpose venue — located at the site of the previous Hollywood Park Race Track — is being designed by HKS Sports & Entertainment Group. The Rams’ new home will be an iconic structure and cornerstone of the 298-acre NFL entertainment and multiuse district.
Mark Williams, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, Principal, HKS Sports and Entertainment Group, said:
From our initial conversations with Mr. Kroenke and his staff, we knew this project was going to be a very special place that will change the face of sports and entertainment venues as we know them.
The unique climate, characteristics and culture of Southern California and Los Angeles are the foundation of the stadium’s design. As a necessity for year-round events of all types, a transparent ETFE canopy covering nearly 19 acres was developed to maximise flexibility, while maintaining an outdoor feeling and taking advantage of the sites climatic conditions. The form was driven by a number of factors, including air movement, local geographic features, site elements and overall integration into the district. Under this canopy, all sides of the building remain open-air, allowing natural breezes to pass through the venue and encouraging all the public spaces to take advantage of the indoor/outdoor experiences common to the region and lifestyle of Southern Californians.
With 70,000 fixed seats and the ability to expand up to 80,000 for major events like a Super Bowl, Final Four tournaments, collegiate bowl games and award shows to smaller-scale events like high school football games, soccer matches, motosports, extreme sports, concerts and community events. The stadium will also accommodate a total capacity exceeding 100,000 patrons with standing-room-only locations throughout the venue.
Two top Democrats on the Senate Commerce Committee have written President Barack Obama, asking him to initiate a comprehensive federal study of the potential health risks of crumb rubber athletic turf and playground surfacing.
“The existing body of knowledge on the safety of crumb rubber is incomplete,” Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Bill Nelson, D-Fla., said in their Jan. 21 letter to the White House.
“Unfortunately, recent reports indicate that these surfaces may pose serious health risks, including cancer, to individuals who come into frequent contact with them,” Sens. Blumenthal and Nelson said.
The lawmakers cited recent NBC and ESPN news reports about Amy Griffin, a University of Washington soccer coach who began researching instances of cancer among athletes who spent significant amounts of time on crumb rubber playing fields.
Ms. Griffin found 153 cases of cancer among such athletes, according to the senators. Of these, 124 were soccer players — and 85 were goalies, they said.
The CPSC said it would aid the current state investigation of crumb rubber in California, as did the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the senators said. They lauded the effort, but said it was not enough.
“We believe that a more comprehensive federal study on this matter — one that draws not only from the public safety expertise of the Consumer Product Safety Commission but from the public health and environmental expertise of agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and the Environmental Protection Agency — would more fully inform the public on any potential health or safety impacts associated with crumb rubber,” they said.
The 2016 Spring Membership Meeting will attract over 200 industry leaders and feature unmatched networking, including a two-hour Welcome Reception combined with the Exhibitor Showcase (NEW for 2016!), and technical sessions on industry-related topics. Please encourage non-member companies to be at the meeting, either as a new member, or as a guest!
The first Synthetic Turf Scientific Advisory Panel Meeting is scheduled to be held on Monday, February 8, 2016. The meeting will be held in the Coastal Hearing Room at the CalEPA Headquarters building, 1001 I Street, Sacramento, CA. It will begin at 10:00 a.m. and will last until all business is conducted or until 5:00 p.m. You are encouraged to attend in person, if you are able to do so. Alternately, The Panel meeting will be webcast and is open to the public.
The Synthetic Turf Scientific Advisory Panel is a group of expert scientists that have been invited by the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) to provide scientific advice on OEHHA’s Synthetic Turf Study. The Panel will meet during the study to advise OEHHA on study plans, and interpretation and reporting of study results.
The study will assess the potential health impacts associated with the use of synthetic turf and playground mats made of crumb rubber. OEHHA will focus on identifying chemicals that may be released from synthetic turf from indoor and outdoor fields throughout California, and estimating exposures to users of synthetic turf fields. OEHHA will also explore the feasibility of a future biomonitoring or personal monitoring study of people using synthetic turf fields to more directly measure exposure to chemicals that may be released from synthetic turf and playground mats.
Details of this Panel meeting, including agenda and briefing materials will be posted at a later date. If you have any questions, please contact Dr. Jocelyn Claude at (916) 323-4763 or Jocelyn.Claude@oehha.ca.gov.
Turf Reclamation Solutions LLC (TRS), a Cincinnati-based company that specialized in end-of-life synthetic turf fields, has announced a new alliance with Broce Broom. The equipment manufacturing and contract reclamation services partnership is designed to increase the availability of TRS’s purpose-built equipment and expand its geographic capability to provide contractors with field removal services.
As synthetic fields increase in popularity, the need for reclamation solutions becomes imperative in the industry.
“Introduction of the TRS equipment in 2012 was a milestone advancement in our industry,” says Mark Heinlein, president of TRS. “We expect there to be 80 million square feet of turf taken up this year,” Heinlein noted. “Without solutions for lifting these fields, separating the components and moving them along to other markets, that material would be in landfills. That’s unacceptable by any standards”.
“In Broce, we have found the partner who can scale equipment manufacturing to meet this exploding demand, as well as provide necessary customer service. We are thrilled to have teamed up with them and are excited about what it will bring to the synthetic turf industry.”
Broce is a Kansas-based specialty manufacturing company with more than five decades of success in the development of self-propelled sweepers. Dave Krason, sales manager at Broce, notes that working with TRS will allow the company to continue its track record of success while diversifying its offerings into the synthetic turf market. “We’re each playing to our strengths,” says Krason, “and turf reclamation is an industry that is only going to keep growing.”
Under the new arrangement, Broce will manufacture the TRS equipment in its Dodge City, KS facility and will take the lead on North American sales, parts, service, and delivery of field removal contracts. TRS will continue in its role as a sales and marketing consultant, while driving industry advancement through thought leadership. The Broce website is and its toll-free number is 877-227-8811877-227-8811 FREE.
TRS’s synthetic turf removal and reclamation machinery line-up includes the Viper Turf Slicer, Winder Turf Roller, Rattlesnake Infill Extractor and Wrangler Base Unit. TRS offers a complete solution, from removal to recycling.
The University of Tennessee might have unlocked the secret to luring more young people into the industry.
Enrollment in the four-year turfgrass program had dipped to 22 students in 2015. Perceptions about working in the turfgrass industry were, well, negative. And that’s assuming teenagers even knew they could make a living managing turf.
Dr. Brandon Horvath, a cheery assistant professor, remembers the solemn conversations with his University of Tennessee colleague Dr. John Sorochan.
“I have a 75 percent teaching appointing, so the largest portion of my job is teaching classes,” Horvath says. “As the enrollments continued to decline, John and I had conversations: ‘Our numbers are getting lower. If they continue to get lower, we are going to get to the point where physically we aren’t going to be able to teach classes. We won’t be able to justify teaching a class for two or three students that might be ready to take that class.’ That was the call that we needed to do something.”
Inside a ballroom packed with more than 300 industry professionals gathered for the banquet portion of the Tennessee Turfgrass Association Conference in Murfreesboro, Sorochan relayed a strong – and perhaps a bit surprising – message. Students are again heading to Knoxville to study turfgrass management.
Enrollment in the four-year program now rests at 45 students, according to Sorochan, a turfgrass management professor who arrived at UT in 2002. “We are finding a lot of energy,” he says. “The reason it has doubled is the perception … that there are jobs. Our students have had a 100 percent job placement by the time they graduate. They have had multiple job offers. We have done a lot of work marketing what we do and saying, ‘It’s not just a two-ton pickup truck and a lawn mower. Turfgrass is a degree where you are a professional.’ It’s a great career that people of this generation can be attracted to.”
Quality teaching, research, outreach and ultimately high job placement rates are the staples of a solid college academic program of any kind. None of those elements matter if prospective students aren’t aware of your existence, and Horvath, Sorochan and Dr. Jim Brosnan cite marketing as a major reason behind the resurgence.
Despite a sagging economy from 2008-13, the key turf players at UT maintained that “turfies” existed inside and outside the state borders. Unearthing ways to reach that group, though, had proved challenging.
UT engaged the Tombras Group to help market the turfgrass management program. Based in Knoxville, Tombras also works with the UT athletics department. Forbes recently ranked UT as the third most valuable college football program behind Texas and Notre Dame. Marketing is a significant reason for the financial success of the UT football program because the Volunteers haven’t posted a 10-win season since 2007.
On the turf side, instead of waiting for applications, faculty, staff and even students embarked in an aggressive marketing approach. They started attending more career and college fairs and touted the program by doing creative things such as sodding and painting the Twitter handle @UTturfgrass on a rock serving as a central image in UT’s Homecoming parade. Social media has developed into a key part of the marketing efforts, and Twitter handles are listed along with phones numbers and emails on the online turfgrass faculty and staff directory.
Other recruitment focuses involved connecting with the parents of prospective students and telling stories of turf-related jobs that don’t involve working on a golf course. “There are a lot of ‘turfies’ out there,” Sorochan says, “They just don’t realize it’s a career.”
To document the scope of the turfgrass industry in Tennessee, the UT Institute of Agriculture conducted a study led by Dr. Burton English. The study, which was released in 2015, concluded the industry contributed $5.8 billion to the state economy and generated close to 67,000 full- and part-time jobs in 2013. The study examined all segments of the industry, including golf, sports turf, sod production, landscape services and lawn services. The golf industry contributed $498 million to the state economy, according to the study.
“That number surprised me,” English says. “But I know Tennessee is a very good golfing state. I know there’s a big emphasis on golf course maintenance, golf courses and making sure the golfer enjoys their experience. Maybe it shouldn’t have surprised me, but it did.”
Nobody in Tennessee had conducted a similar study since the late 1990s. The TTA, Tennessee Chapter of the GCSAA, MidSouth Turfgrass Council, Tennessee Nursery & Landscape Association, Inc., and UT Department of Plant Sciences provided support for the research. Brosnan calls the study “hugely important” in the turfgrass program’s marketing efforts.
“We were desperately overdue to have a new survey done,” he says. “We knew the industry had grown and the impact would be significant. Now that we have the data, it’s really just the beginning for us. We wanted to use the data as a platform to leverage the visibility of the program even further and try to make inroads politically and talk about the value of turfgrass to Tennessee.”
Professors are confident a fulfilling experience awaits once students enroll in the program, especially considering Tennessee’s climate allows for the study of bentgrass and Bermudagrass. But the resurgence demonstrates the value of a tactic that also separates successful from middling players in the golf industry: Don’t assume potential customers know who and what you are. Sometimes they must be nudged.
“If you engage them in the right way, they will migrate toward your program,” Horvath says, “and we have seen that in the enrollment increase.”
Guy Cipriano is Golf Course Industry’s assistant editor.
The principle KISS, Keep It Simple Stupid, states that most systems work best if they are kept simple rather than made complicated; therefore simplicity should be a key goal in design and unnecessary complexity should be avoided (Wikipedia, 2016). While originally coined by an early aircraft engineer, the phrase is particularly true with regards to turfgrass fertilization.
See the entire pdf here
The University of Georgia’s new Athens Turfgrass Research and Education Center has some colorful balloons floating above their little pond and some folks are wondering why? It seems the balloons are there for no other reason than to scare off the geese that used to frequent the pond.
Turfgrass researchers relied on water from the pond to irrigate the research plots of turfgrass at the site. But when they began using the pond for irrigation, they found the water was heavily contaminated with geese droppings. The nutrients in the droppings allowed algae to flourish, and that made it tough to monitor experiments such as what’s the ideal nutrient balance for new varieties of turfgrass that are being researched at the facility.
Like most birds, geese rely more on vision than on their other senses to avoid danger, and so visual stimuli can be effective. Commercially available eyespot balloons are large, helium-filled balloons with large, eye-like images.
It seems that large colored spots on three sides of any helium balloon can suggest eyes to geese.
We’re not sure how anyone could reach that conclusion unless they had a one-on-one conversation with one of the geese, but it seems to work.
The balloons are periodically relocated to confuse the geese. This environmentally friendly and harmless effort seems to have scared off the geese, and at a cost of around $15 per balloon, with a tether and helium it appears to have been a very cost effective solution.-from Jim Novak and TPI News
Project EverGreen, the national non-profit that promotes the value of preserving, enhancing and using green spaces, announces its officers and board of directors for 2016.
The 2016 Project EverGreen Officers include President Dan Carrothers, Emery Oleochemical; Secretary/Treasurer Mike Dauer, Real Green Systems; and Immediate Past President Bill Vogel, Spring Valley.
Serving on the 2016 Project EverGreen Board of Directors are:
- Linda Beattie, Schiller Grounds Care
- Sean Casey, Nufarm
- Scott Cole, BASF
- George Furrer, Sipcam Advan
- Fred Haskett, The Harvest Group
- Doug Obermann, PBI Gordon
- Pierre Pereira, Billy Goat
- Dave Ravel, Syngenta
- Brad Seipel, MARC Research
- Maureen Thompson, FMC
- Murray Wingate, Lebanon
“Project EverGreen is fortunate to have such a talented and dedicated group of professionals serve on our board,” says Cindy Code, executive director of Project EverGreen. “Their depth of experience and passion for managed green spaces are a great benefit not only to our foundation, but to neighborhoods and communities nationwide.”
Project EverGreen programs and initiatives include:
- GreenCare for Troops/SnowCare for Troops
- “Healthy Turf. Healthy Kids.”™
- Managed green space revitalization projects
- Environmental Communicator of the Year
In 2015, Project EverGreen spearheaded renovation projects covering more than 250,000 square feet of managed green spaces with in-kind donations from professional contractors and suppliers totaling nearly $100,000. In addition to the managed green space projects, Project EverGreen’s GreenCare and SnowCare for Troops volunteers delivered snow and ice removal, and lawn care and landscape services valued at $1 million to hundreds of military families and wounded/disabled veterans across the U.S.
Less than 3 weeks from the Super Bowl, the field is nearly ready to be played on thanks to long days at Levi’s Stadium by the crew working to install fresh sod and make every necessary tweak in regards to weather and other potential issues.
No turf trouble this time. Not yet, at least.
Nor does NFL field director Ed Mangan expect it.
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The recipient of this year’s physical plant Hobart Award is a vital member of many of the college’s 21 varsity sports teams, though he’s never played for any of them. John Wilkinson, senior groundskeeper, is responsible for maintaining all 25 acres of the 100-acre main campus that are devoted to athletic fields.
The Hobart Award is presented annually to a member of the hourly physical plant staff in recognition of dedication, loyalty, spirit of cooperation, patience and mentoring. Facilities management director David Holthouser presented the award and its $750 prize to Wilkinson last month.
Wilkinson has worked at the college for the past 15 years, following 18 years as a Duke Power lineman. He appreciates his short daily commute, and doesn’t at all miss the wet, freezing, stormy weather that commands power line workers to respond. He started at Davidson in general grounds maintenance, but was selected as athletic fields manager two years later.
He works under the conviction that the college’s outdoor athletes deserve top-quality fields in order to play safely and perform at their best. But maintaining that standard requires a tremendous amount of work, as well as a thorough understanding of soil science.
The college’s natural fields are all sown in Bermuda grass, a heat-loving species. But because the Bermuda grass goes dormant and brown in cold weather, fields are over-seeded in early fall with Rye grass that stays green through the playing season. The annual list of soil maintenance chores also includes irrigation, divot repair, fertilization, weed and pest control, aeration, trimming and edging–and seemingly constant mowing.
Wilkinson and his recently hired assistant J.R. Overcash log scores of miles on specialized mowing machines, keeping the athletic fields clipped to the college standard of three quarters of an inch. The varsity soccer field takes an hour to mow, and during the summer can require up to five clippings per week. Even the artificial grass football/lacrosse field, and the artificial field hockey field, need to be sprinkled and swept of leaves.
Wilkinson enjoys keeping up with science of turf maintenance and regularly attends conferences of the state chapter of the national Sports Turf Managers Association to share ideas with peers and to see if new products could benefit Davidson. An example would be the line of new plant growth regulator products the college now uses. The regulators promote more active growth of grass roots and limit the growth of the exposed top part of the plant, so the field requires less frequent mowing.
Wilkinson said the most challenging aspect of his job is the constant necessity to think ahead. He has already drawn up a maintenance schedule in advance of the Atlantic 10 men’s soccer tournament, which will be played at Davidson next November.
All the attention to grass at Davidson may seem like an indulgence. But it’s far less a luxury here than in other sports venues. Wilkinson said the Carolina Panther playing field is mowed twice per day, and the San Diego Padres budget $100,000 per year to maintain a single three-acre field.
A native of Rowan County, Wilkinson has lived in the same house his whole life. He purchased it from his parents, who built it in the late 1940s and operated it as a dairy farm. Wilkinson and his spouse of 33 years, Debi, currently raise chickens, honeybees and timber on the 63-acre spread. They also raised two sons there, and son Nathan now works in Davidson’s building services department.
At age 60, Wilkinson can envision the day when he joins Debi in retirement. She spent 18 years as a classroom assistant in Rowan County school kindergartens. He would like to hunt deer more often, and he and Debi recently purchased an RV so they can more comfortably enjoy their favorite pastime–attending bluegrass festivals. He also looks forward to having more time to dote over this three-year-old granddaughter, Sadie Marie Wilkinson.
The Hobart Award at Davidson honors the memory of Frank Donald Hobart, supervisor of buildings and grounds from 1925-59. It was established by his son, John Donald Hobart ’51, who attended the awards luncheon this year.
A trio of Clemson University employees with over 90 combined years in soil science teaching, research, and demonstration recently released the book, Applied Soil Physical Properties, Drainage, and Irrigation Strategies – A Practical Guide. Bert McCarty, PhD; L. Ray Hubbard, Jr., PhD, PE; and, Virgil Quisenberry, PhD, explained the book’s goal was to demystify the complicated math used in many of the soil physics formulas and to concentrate on the applications of these. The authors focused on actual field and laboratory situations with numerous examples of how practitioners can successfully use the information covered in the book. It is available through Springer International Publishing, Switzerland at www.springer.com/us/book/9783319242248.
Four chapters covered: (1) Soil Physical Properties; (2) Soil Drainage; (3) Rootzone Selection and Modifications, and (4) Water Management and Conservation. Chapter one covers the basics of soil physical properties which will be applied in subsequent chapters. Chapter two covers the principles and practices of necessary calculations when determining appropriate and sufficient drainage for a particular situation and site. Chapter three covers the science of determining an appropriate rootzone profile for playability and sufficient drainage while Chapter four covers irrigation practices to maximize water management and conservation.