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Nice article on Michigan State turf team

September 12, 2017

Sitting on the visitor’s bench, shaded from the bright sun inside Spartan Stadium, Amy Fouty smiled and nodded her head in approval.

“Yes, I think this is the premier field in the Big Ten — but I am biased,” she said. “It’s exactly how we want it.”

The 72,000-square feet of freshly mowed acreage in front of her has been Fouty’s masterpiece over the last 13 football seasons. Her “baby,” if you will.

And she’s not the only one who appreciates it. Last fall, Sports Turf Management Association named Spartan Stadium the “Collegiate Field of the Year” for the second time in 11 years.

The pristine state of the field on Wednesday would bring a smile to the face of any head athletic turf manager in the country. Fouty is no different.

What is different is the fact that she’s a woman, one of the “very few” who manage Division-I facilities, according to Kim Heck, CEO of Sports Turf Management Association.

http://tinyurl.com/yczgczu5

 

 

Categories: test feeds

Retirement is only a word for OSU’s Bug Doc

September 12, 2017

At the 2016 edition of the Ohio Turfgrass Foundation Turf Research Field Day, Dave Shetlar, Ph.D., was bid a fond farewell prior to his pending retirement. At this year’s event, it didn’t look like much had changed for Shetlar, who was Ohio State University’s turfgrass entomologist for nearly 20 years. As about 200 attendees packed the OTF facility in Columbus to hear the latest in turfgrass management research from the OSU faculty, there was Shetlar, holding a cup filled with white grubs and talking to turf managers about how to kill them.

“The retired Dave Shetlar doesn’t look very retired to me,” said Joe Rimelspach, Ph.D., OSU’s turfgrass pathologist.

The Bug Doc, as he’s affectionately known, might be retired, but unlike the grubs he was toting around during field day at the OTF Research and Education Facility, he’s still quite active.

Shetlar, 71, still is doing a lot of extension work around the state. He is teaching an online course that is continually being tweaked and that he described as so exhaustive it will give students virtually everything they need to know about any invasive turf pest found anywhere in the world. He also is in the process of revising “Destructive Turf Insects” which he co-authored in 2001 with Harry Niemczyk, Ph.D.

His annual bluegrass weevil trials in the Cleveland area are ongoing, and after a mandatory 60-day separation agreement after his retirement last spring forced him off campus temporarily, he soon will have an office on campus and trials under way at the research facility.

“I had to move work off university property for a while. But in 2018 I will be back at the research facility working on sod webworms on bentgrass, billbugs, etc.,” Shetlar said.

“I’m still trying to figure out what retirement really means. I have the chance to say ‘no’ to some extension work when I want to, but the reality is that I will be doing exactly what I’ve been doing. I’ll still be doing field testing, still doing conferences and shows. Right now, all retirement means is I’m not getting a paycheck from the university. I’m getting a retirement check.”

In the short amount of time he has been “retired” Shetlar already has been missed, said Rimelspach.

At a recent field day for lawn care operators, “more than one person asked ‘where’s the Bug Doc? And where is his replacement?” Rimelspach said. “If he’s not here, his replacement should be here.”

Shetlar said there are no plans to replace him as the university’s turf entomologist. Contraction through attrition is a disturbing trend in turfgrass academia as researchers nationwide compete for a shrinking pool of funds.

John Street, Ph.D., who has been a turfgrass professor since 1975 when he headed the OSU-Agricultural Technical Institute in Wooster, has been on the main campus in Columbus since 1980 and since then has been one of the leading voices in sports turf management research, extension and education. Although he retired in 2015, he still retains professor emeritus status and directs the educational components of OTF’s annual summer field day and the conference and show held each December.

“There will not be a replacement for John Street, and there will not be a replacement for Dave Shetlar. The bottom line reality is that the extension funding line of federal and state dollars has been on the decline,” Shetlar said. “And the easiest decision to make is that when those positions are vacated we just won’t fill them.

“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve submitted grant proposals to federal agencies and got top marks for it. But it isn’t food. You can’t eat it, so it’s not going to get funded. That’s been my biggest frustration, and if you talk to any other turf entomologist they’re complaining about the same thing. We have ideas; we have an industry that needs our expertise. But, try to get money for it. It isn’t going to happen.”

Shetlar came to Ohio State in 1990. Before that, he was a professor at Penn State and spent six years as a research scientist in the private sector for ChemLawn (now TruGreen).

 

In that time, he’s helped countless golf course superintendents, sports field managers, lawn and landscape professionals and residential homeowners find solutions to their insect pest problems.

 

Fortunately for turf students, turf managers and homeowners throughout Ohio and elsewhere, he hasn’t lost his zeal for sharing his knowledge about bugs in turf.

 

He is working with Purdue entomologist Doug Richmond, Ph.D., to revise “Destructive Turf Insects” and the online course he teaches – Entomology 5608-Turfgrass Insect and Mite Pests: Identification, Biology and Management – include 28 modules that cover virtually every turf pest on the planet, how to control them, and how to get the most out of insecticides and biological controls.

 

“Anyone who takes that course should have everything that they would ever need,” he said. “It actually has more information than my book.”

 

He also is developing a virtual pest tour that he hopes will be ready for students next spring. That module will present students with different problems at different locations during different times of the year and will prompt them to make recommendations for control based on their observations.

 

“The idea,” he said, “is to get people thinking about different things that they need to be doing.”

 

That’s pretty innovative thinking for someone who is retired – or at least is supposed to be.- John Reitman, www.TurfNet.com

Categories: test feeds

Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium to sport the world’s first dividing retractable pitch

September 12, 2017

From Katie McIntyre’s SVB newsletter:

The SCX Group’s expertise is being harnessed to produce a grass pitch that sits directly above an artificial surface, making the English Premier League (EPL) club’s stadium the first of its kind in the UK to have two pitches inside the same bowl, creating a truly world-class multi-use venue.

The fully retractable grass surface will be used for soccer matches, whilst the artificial pitch underneath will be used for National Football League (NFL) matches, music concerts and a range of other events, in order to protect the integrity of both playing surfaces. SCX will design, engineer, build and install the innovative natural turf football pitch, which will sit in three pitch-long steel trays, weighing more than 3,000 tons each.

The surface will split into three sections to show each tray before retracting under the South Stand to reveal the artificial playing surface underneath.  The process of switching from one surface to another is expected to take approximately 25 minutes. Once the grass pitch is returned, the joins are invisible and undetectable allowing for an EPL-quality playing surface every match day.

SCX Special Projects – the bespoke precision engineering arm of the family-run SCX Group based in Wincobank, Sheffield – is preparing to install the movable grass pitch over a 12-week period beginning in October.

Tottenham Hotspur’s stunning new stadium is set to open in 2018. Designed for atmosphere, the Club aims to deliver an unrivalled fan experience inside its stadium, the largest of any football club in London with a capacity of more than 61,000.  The venue will be a new world-class sports and entertainment venue for the capital. Since planning for the new stadium began, the Club has been committed to driving innovation and using modern technology to enhance the visitor experience.

The supplier agreement with Tottenham Hotspur follows SCX’s success in using similar engineering technology to win contracts for the retractable roofs over Centre Court and Number One Court at the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) at Wimbledon, guaranteeing play no matter the weather conditions.

Matthew Collecott, Director of Operations & Finance, Tottenham Hotspur, said:

We are pleased to confirm SCX as our official Retractable Pitch Supplier. SCX has a proven track record in delivering innovative solutions and this bespoke pitch mechanism will allow our new stadium to host a range of major events in addition to Tottenham Hotspur matches, as we strive to create a venue that is a hive of activity all year round.

SCX Managing Director, Simon Eastwood, said:

We have a solid reputation for problem solving in bespoke circumstances that involve moving and lifting huge structures at sporting venues. All of the mechanical and control system engineering skills are in-house and genuinely world class.

Danny Pickard, SCX’s lead engineer, said:

Our expertise and heritage enables us to push the boundaries of moving structures and precision engineering. This latest pitch technology embodies everything we strive for and care about – delivering precisely what the client needs, with the engineering flair that has become a hallmark of SCX. We are so very proud to deliver this engineering world first.

By developing Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium, Main Contractor Mace are helping to create a major sports and entertainment landmark for visitors, the wider community, London and the UK.

 

Designed by world-renowned architectural practice Populous with a capacity of 61,559, the tight atmospheric bowl will ensure spectators are closer to the pitch than at any other comparable ground in the UK with uninterrupted views for everyone at any event. The stadium has been designed for atmosphere including the incorporation of the UK’s largest single tier stand, the home southern end, which will be able to hold up to 17,000 fans.

 

The venue won’t just cater for soccer either, as Tottenham Hotspur has agreed a long-term partnership with the NFL that will see a minimum of two American football games played at the stadium each season for 10 years. This has been made possible thanks to a retractable grass field for THFC home fixtures with an artificial surface underneath that will be multi-use and capable of hosting NFL matches, concerts and other high-profile events. Dedicated facilities for the NFL – including locker rooms and medical facilities – are also provided so the club’s facilities are never compromised by the need to cater for other users.

 

The seating bowl has also been designed to provide excellent sightlines for the different formats of football and the NFL, without having to screen off rows of seats at the front of the lower tier.

 

The structure of the stadium will have a sculpted appearance, wrapping and folding its way around the stadium before reaching the home end, where a glass façade arches upwards to reveal the impressive single tier home stand.

 

Watch the video published by THFC detailing this world first online at:

http://sportsvenuebusiness.com/index.php/youtube-gallery/spurs-unveil-worlds-first-dividing-retractable-pitch/

Categories: test feeds

ESPN football analyst retires, citing dangers of the game

September 5, 2017

A longtime college football analyst is not returning to the broadcast booth this fall due to his growing discomfort with the dangerous nature of the sport.

Ed Cunningham has left his position with ESPN and ABC after nearly 20 years, citing the large amount of damage inflicted on players as his primary reason.

“I take full ownership of my alignment with the sport,” Cunningham told The New York Times. “I can just no longer be in that cheerleader’s spot.”

Cunningham told the Times he had grown weary of being a close witness to constant carnage and making his living on a sport he knows is taking the lives of some players.

“In its current state, there are some real dangers: broken limbs, wear and tear,” Cunningham said. “But the real crux of this is that I just don’t think the game is safe for the brain. To me, it’s unacceptable.”

A captain on the 1991 Washington team that won the national championship, Cunningham played center for the Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks over five seasons, working as an analyst and color commentator since. He told the Times that brain health is “as personal as it gets” for him, citing the suicide of former teammate Dave Duerson, who was posthumously found to have CTE, the debilitating brain disease found in many former players.

Cunningham hopes by speaking out the conversation on football safety would be furthered without undermining the game.

“I think people are starting to think, ‘What should we do here?’ ” Cunningham said. “You can’t throw out everything. You can’t say it’s all broken. You have to change the paradigm. How should it be different 20 years from now? It’ll be different, and I think quite a bit different. And that’s OK.”-by Ryan Gerbosi, Newsday (New York)b

Categories: test feeds

Seed-to-soil contact is essential when overseeding

September 5, 2017

Fall is a great time to renovate a poor performing turf site with cool-season grasses. Both seeding and sodding can be highly successful when done in the fall. It is important to ensure good seed to soil contact when seeding into an existing stand of turf. Seeds that get hung up in thatch or other foliage can dry out and not establish properly. Here’s a short description of how to seed into an existing lawn and maximized seed-to-soil contact.

First, assess the stand. If you are happy with the current grass species and variety, then an application of a non-selective herbicide may not be required. If there are many weeds and/or the existing lawn is an older variety, it would be best to kill the existing vegetation and start over with newer seed varieties. Two applications of a herbicide like glyphosate may be required to completely kill all the vegetation.

When you are ready to seed, buy or rent a drop seeder to ensure uniform coverage. Make sure you use the wheel guides to align your passes. Splitting the seed rate and walking in two directions helps ensure great coverage over the whole site.

To maximize seed-to-soil contact after seeding, use an aerator or power rake/dethatcher to press the seed into the soil. A mechanical slit seeder also increases seed to soil contact. Research at UNL showed all three methods were equally as effective, though the pattern of seedling emergence varied greatly. Grass species did not matter.

Apply some starter fertilizer (0.5-1.0 lbs P2 O5 per 1,000 sq ft) and then keep the seed wet. Watering two to three times a day is usually fine for most Nebraska soils. Sandy soils, however, may need a few extra irrigation events until the grass germinates. Start mowing when the turf achieves the desired mowing height (don’t wait too long) and provide one more application of starter fertilizer after that first mow. If the weather cooperates, you’ll have a good-looking turf stand by Memorial Day.

Bill Kreuser, Assistant Professor and Turfgrass Extension Specialist, wkreuser2@unl.edu

Categories: test feeds

Free water conservation webinar

September 5, 2017

Hitting Conservation Targets with Minimum Compromise
Speaker: Jack Karlin – Turfgrass Water Conservation Alliance
Thursday, September 21 at 11:30 am – 12:30 pm EDT

Conservation goals are a reality for municipal sports field managers across the US. Meeting those goals means balancing the safety and playability of the fields with the pressures to reduce water use. Drought tolerant turf and water budgeting tools created specifically to calculate annual water requirements for drought tolerant turf allow managers to help set realistic goals AND maintain the field quality their communities require.

Register for the Webinar

To access recorded webinars, click here.

 

Categories: test feeds

SportsTurf Magazine subscriptions simplified

September 5, 2017

As a national member of STMA, you automatically receive a subscription to SportsTurf magazine — either digital or printed — your choice.

However, STMA also provides a subscription to SportsTurf for every chapter member, regardless of national membership, if STMA receives that information from chapters. Starting in September, chapter administrators will be able to forward a link to their chapter members to insure they are on the subscription list to receive a printed copy of the magazine. This electronic process will virtually eliminate any lag time between sign up and delivery. It will also free up the chapter administrators from having to provide a list each month of new or renewed members to headquarters.

Chapter administrators can request a list of their subscribers any time from SportsTurf so that they know who is receiving a copy of the monthly magazine.

 

Categories: test feeds

Do MiLB ballparks pay off for communities?

August 29, 2017

The Potomac Nationals, a minor league baseball club in suburban Washington, DC, are a prime example of a question facing at least 160 baseball communities across the country: Should local taxpayers pay the multimillion-dollar price tags for modern stadiums that would lure or keep minor league teams in their towns?

Many economists argue that the amount of money spent on building ballparks does not return to the community. Team owners like to say that a new stadium creates jobs building and operating the facility, but most of those positions are seasonal. Sports also can bring excitement to a community, but only a sliver of residents might really care. Economists argue that the interests of a few impact everyone financially.

“A major league stadium generates roughly the same number of year-round, full-time jobs as a large Macy’s department store,” says Victor Matheson, economist and professor at College of the Holy Cross. “Minor league is going to generate maybe a tenth of that number. Most jobs being generated at the minor league level are very low-level, part-time, minimum-wage jobs.”

Matheson argues that a new stadium often creates a “honeymoon effect,” where increases in attendance rise for about the first 10 years. After that, he says, it typically levels out. Matheson does not believe this short period of higher ticket sales justifies the amount of money spent on a ballpark.

The Potomac team, known at the P-Nats, the advanced Class A affiliate of the Washington Nationals, play in Pfitzner Stadium, a 6,000-seat park built in 1984.

The Pfitz, as fans call it, is outdated, with metal bleachers lining most of the stands and dugouts that are smaller than those in average high schools. A growing trend across ballparks is open concourses, where concessions are located behind the first-level seating. The Pfitz’s food stands are located by the front gate and behind the bleachers.

According to team owner Art Silber, Minor League Baseball told him the organization must have a new stadium by 2019 because of the deteriorating state of Pfitzner, which is on county land at the PWC Stadium Complex, surrounded by baseball diamonds for youth and adult leagues.

Silber, former president and CEO of Sterling Bank in Baltimore, introduced draft plans for a 6,000-seat ballpark to fans in 2012 and said the team would pay for the new ballpark by selling naming rights for $25 million.

However, as the years passed, Silber began to ask the county for funds, according to Prince William County Supervisor Pete Candland.

The proposed new location for the P-Nats is 6 miles away, near Interstate 95. Prince William County would issue bonds to build the stadium and a parking garage nearby for commuters to use when there are no games. The team would pay $2.7 million annual mortgage payments over 30 years and $450,000 a year to rent the land.

But after delays in getting county approval, Silber withdrew his plan for the new stadium on July 13, just five days before the Prince William County Board of Supervisors was to vote on holding a public referendum for taxpayers to decide on funding the $35 million stadium.

“The Nationals and JBG (the team’s development group) would be the ones to benefit from this deal while the taxpayers assume the risk with it,” Candland said.

Silber pulled out after the board appeared deadlocked on whether to approve the referendum, and, according to WTOP.com, he is looking for another city to be the team’s home.

The P-Nats aren’t the only minor league team wanting public funds to build a modern stadium.

The Pawtucket (R.I.) Red Sox shocked fans when they asked for public funds to build an $83 million stadium. The Class AAA affiliate of the Boston Red Sox divided the cost of the project by asking the city of Pawtucket to pay $15 million and the state of Rhode Island to cough up $23million. The team would be responsible for $45 million.

The Rhode Island Senate Finance Committee plans to vote on the funding in the fall.

In addition to local officials’ emphasis on the economic benefits of a new stadium, they also cite modern stadiums as amenities to attract new residents, according to economist and UNC-Charlotte Professor Craig Depken.

“Minor league teams are looking at themselves as big-league teams with amenities like Wi-Fi or craft beer services, maybe a few restaurants or sky boxes,” Depken said. “Minor league baseball tends to be very localized. The amenity factor is important. That’s a quality of life issue. Because it does exist, it’s something for us to do.”

That’s exactly how Norfolk, Va., looks at Harbor Park, home of the Norfolk Tides.

The stadium for the Class AAA affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles was built in 1993 and holds 12,000 fans. It has two levels of seating, an indoor restaurant and 24 indoor suites.

Harbor Park is owned by the city, which signed a 15-year lease extension in 2013.

In the offseason, Norfolk will invest $2.5 million in renovating the left-field picnic pavilion, installing new LED stadium lights and expanding the box office.

“They’re a part of the community just the way a major league club would be in a larger city,” said John Rhamstine, cultural, arts and entertainment director for Norfolk. “They bring people to downtown to eat and park and spend nights in our hotel rooms. So it’s an economic driver as well as being part of the fabric.”

The city has yet to look at construction bids for the project to determine the number of construction jobs created by the renovations, according to Rhamstine’s office.

Matheson says stadiums can enhance the economy in their neighborhood but hurt other areas of the city.

“It’s not like baseball stadiums create more people needing to eat,” Matheson said. “It just rearranges where people are eating in that city. … That one sports bar dinner outside the stadium is one Italian dinner that’s not being made across town at that restaurant.”

Depken predicted that sports fans would begin to see how much stadiums cost in taxes and support these big-budget deals less often. He cited the NFL’s Oakland Raiders’ move to Las Vegas as a recent example.

When Las Vegas residents were polled in July 2016 on the city using about $500 million to build the Raiders a stadium, 55% opposed it. Only 35% were in favor, while 10% were undecided.

In March, NFL team owners voted to move the Raiders to Las Vegas, a deal that puts taxpayers on the hook for $750 million of the cost of a $1.7 billion stadium.

This is the reason economists like Matheson have an issue with the high amount of public funds used for stadiums. Everyone’s money is being used on something not everyone wants or needs.

“We do know that sports make people happy,” Matheson said. “So as long as you’re justifying a stadium saying this is an amenity for our town rather than an economic generator, most economists wouldn’t take issue with that.

“But when you say spending $30, $40, $50 million on a baseball stadium is good for the economy, we don’t have a lot of evidence that that’s true.”- by Jenna West, USA TODAY. West writes for Medill News Service.

Categories: test feeds

AZ county looking to lure Brewers for spring training site

August 29, 2017

Pima County wants back in the business of baseball, and — in a twist — appears ready to pounce in the wake of another city’s struggles.

County officials sent a 17-page package to the Milwaukee Brewers last week, touting Kino SportsComplex and Kino Stadium. The letter concluded with an invitation for Brewers executive vice president Bob Quinn to visit for a tour. Kino served as the Chicago White Sox’s spring home from 1998-2008, and hosted the Arizona Diamondbacks from 1998-2009.

“I would be most interested in showing you the Kino Sports Complex when you are available, as well as introduce you to our county officials and tourism staff,” wrote Reenie Ochoa, Pima County Stadium District director.

The Brewers train at Maryvale Baseball Park in Phoenix, but the team’s contract is year-to-year. The team has recently pushed for a move to Gilbert, focusing on a site at Loop 202 at Lindsay and Germann roads.

The Brewers proposed paying $20 million of the $160 million estimated cost to build the stadium and an adjoining mixed-use “retail village,” according to reports. Gilbert Mayor Jenn Daniels balked at the idea of spending taxpayer money on the facility, saying the city could never recoup its investment.

“The math doesn’t work for #GilbertAZ,” she tweeted last week.

The Brewers say they’ve discussed a new, long-term lease in Maryvale, but the math may not work for them, either. Their current stadium seats just 7,000 fans, lowest in the Cactus League. Arizona spring training teams drew a record 1,941,347 fans this year, but the Brewers were near the bottom in average attendance.

The 162-acre Kino Sports Complex lacks the new-complex smell and retail village but is ready-made for spring training.

Pima County’s letter touts Kino Stadium’s “four clubhouses, full service concessions operations, press box, eight private upper level (suites) and 3,000+ parking spaces” at the 11,000-seat park. Kino has hosted a handful of Cactus League games over the last seven years, and the Pecos League’s Tucson Saguaros have played there over the last two summers. The annual Vamos a Tucson Mexican Baseball Fiesta is played there every October.

Tucson has been without a spring training team since 2010, when the Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies bolted the city-and-county-run stadiums for new facilities in the Phoenix area. The D-backs and White Sox shared Kino Stadium for years.

The Triple-A Tucson Sidewinders also played at Kino, then called Tucson Electric Park, from 1998-2008 before moving to Reno.

The Tucson Padres played three seasons (2011-13) at the south-side complex before they were purchased and relocated to El Paso.- by Ryan Finley, Arizona Daily Star (Tucson)

Categories: test feeds

Nufarm contributes $150,000 to GreenCare for Troops

August 29, 2017

Making a difference on the home front for the families of deployed service members and post-9/11 disabled veterans with service-connected disabilities is what the GreenCare for Troops initiative is all about.

That job is a little easier now with the generous support of Nufarm following its $150,000 contribution to Project EverGreen on behalf of GreenCare for Troops.

The announcement was made by Nufarm Vice President Sales, Turf and Ornamental, Sean Casey, and Project EverGreen Executive Director, Cindy Code, at the Nufarm National Sales conference in Hilton Head, S.C.

“Nufarm is keenly aware of the importance of community outreach and involvement. GreenCare for Troops embodies Nufarm’s core values, and allows us to put them in action in real-life situations,” says Casey. “I can’t think of a better way to extend the outreach and community involvement of Nufarm employees than to help volunteers provide complimentary lawn and landscape services to the families of deployed military personnel and post-9/11 disabled veterans.”

The contribution will be used to enhance and expand the national initiative created and managed by non-profit Project EverGreen. This will include increased outreach for volunteer recruitment and communications to families, volunteers and the media, as well as adding promotional and logistical resources required to grow the GreenCare for Troops database and serve more military families and veterans.

“Nufarm’s incredible contribution to this program is going to make a significant difference to the lives of military families and veterans across the country,” says Code. “This boost is just what the program needs to build upon its success and, ultimately, bring safe and healthy yards and landscapes to families in need of relief and peace in a green setting.”

The GreenCare for Troops initiative, which celebrates its 11thyear in 2017, has seen more than 11,000 military families and disabled veterans, and more than 6,000 green industry professionals register to receive or provide these much-needed services since the program was launched in 2006.

In 2016, Project EverGreen’s GreenCare and sister program SnowCare for Troops volunteers delivered lawn care and landscape services valued at $1 million to hundreds of military families and wounded/disabled veterans across the United States.

Nufarm joins Toro as primary financial supporters of the GreenCare For Troops program.

Categories: test feeds

Turner Field transition to football complete

August 29, 2017

The dugouts have been removed. The natural grass baseball field has been turned into an artificial turf football field. A new grandstand has been constructed in what used to be right field.

Turner Field, the Braves’ home of the past 20 years, is now the Georgia State football team’s stadium.

Georgia State Stadium — the facility’s temporary moniker until a naming-rights agreement is done — will debut by hosting an open Panthers scrimmage Aug. 17, high school football games, and Georgia State’s season opener vs. Tennessee State on Aug. 31.

Last week the stadium was opened to the media for a preview.

Vestiges of The Ted couldn’t be missed — the original Hank Aaron statue still in its familiar location; the massive video board still in the same place as before, now the eighth-largest video board in college football; the familiar blue seats still in use; baseball decor still on some walls.

But there have been major changes, too.

The Chop House restaurant/ bar and the 755 Club have been renamed the State House Grill and the University Club, respectively. What used to be home plate is now an end-zone corner. The first seven rows of seats have been removed in places to facilitate football sight lines. Four new light towers have been installed behind the new grandstand along the east sideline.

Construction and design costs for the retrofit have totaled about $26 million to this point, Georgia State Athletic Director Charlie Cobb said. The costs have been funded from “a lot of university revenues,” he said, “and then part of it is a sponsorship piece.” The university hopes to put separate names on the stadium and the field, he said.

The tens of thousands of upper-deck seats remain in place, “but the plan is not to use them until we need them,” Cobb said. That leaves a seating configuration of about 25,000 in the lower and middle bowls, not counting the old seats over the former right field that won’t be used because of their distance and sight lines to the football field.

The stadium is in its third iteration. It originally was built as the site of the opening and closing ceremonies and track and field competition at the 1996 Olympics and then converted into a ballpark for the Braves, who played there from 1997 through last season.

Georgia State’s football program is in its eighth year, having played its home games the previous seven at the Georgia Dome.

Shawn Elliott, in his first year as the Panthers’ coach, is excited about what having its own stadium can mean to the program in a range of ways, including recruiting and fan interest.

“You can’t put a figure on it. It’s certainly a game-changer. It really is,” Elliott said. “You’ll find out two and three years down the road how exactly it’s going to really help you. But thus far, it’s been great.”

Then, borrowing from the stadium’s past, he added: “It’s been a home run for us.”

The Panthers’ players echo the enthusiasm.

“This new stadium is just going to bring that much more intensity for our team and even for our fans,” wide receiver Penny Hart said. “I’ve said I’m excited about 100 times already, but I really am.”

“Having our own home … it’s going to be a great experience,” defensive end Mackendy Cheridor said.

The conversion has been underway for about seven months, touching many parts of the facility.

The artificial-turf playing surface was largely installed last weekend, supplied by the same company, FieldTurf, that provided the field for the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium a couple of miles away.

The entry plaza has been renamed the 1913 Promenade, a reference to the year the university was founded. The top level of the State House Grill — the former Chop House — will be a pregame hospitality space for Panthers Athletic Club members.

The posh space that contained Turner Field’s Sun-Trust Club won’t be used this fall but eventually will become a recruiting area.

Three suites, located at what is now the 50-yard line, have been converted into a TV broadcast booth and coaches’ booths. Seats have been renumbered.

“To come here and reconstruct this facility and to call it our own … you take pride in something that is your own,” Elliott said. “I use the example of when you bought your first house, how proud you were of it. If there was water in the sink, you’d wipe it out and all that good stuff. It’s no different here.

“Just walking in the parking lot, you see a piece of trash and you pick that piece of trash up. You want to make it the very best it can be.”- by Tim Tucker, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Categories: test feeds

OPINION: Enough is enough on synthetic turf safety debate

August 24, 2017

In any “debate” there is a point when the evidence must be considered sufficient to declare the case closed. When it comes to the specter of health concerns associated with the recycled rubber infill found in synthetic turf fields and playgrounds, we have reached and passed that stage.

Nevertheless, questions persist from some corners — largely driven by the existence of an admittedly anecdotal, unscientific list purporting to demonstrate a possible relationship between youth cancer cases and playing sports on turf fields. Headlines in the media playing up the provocative nature of these claims have created a self-perpetuating cycle of anxiety and concern among parents. The result was the February 2016 launch of a multi-agency federal study of recycled rubber led by the EPA.

This study has cast a cloud of indefinite uncertainty over recycled rubber, while numerous delays have hamstrung the study’s progress. As a result, these products have been relegated to a form of regulatory purgatory as decision-makers at schools and towns were deprived of the clarity needed to move forward on many field projects.

However, since the commencement of the study a litany of literature has emerged demonstrating that as far as science and the facts are concerned, the question has been answered.

First, the false notion that any causal relationship could be inferred from the list was laid to rest when the Washington Department of Health (DOH) conducted an investigation that found prevalence of cancers among soccer players, select and premier players, and goalkeepers reported on the list was actually lower than expected given local background cancer rates. The DOH made its takeaway crystal clear by recommending that “…people who enjoy soccer continue to play irrespective of the type of field surface.”

Shortly thereafter, a Harvard faculty member — and former director of risk communication at the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis (part of the Harvard School of Public Health) — analyzed the DOH investigation and went a step further. He suggested that communities across the country struggle with “misguided citizen science” when it comes to recycled rubber infill. Investigators, he pointed out, discovered players on the list had in fact spent the majority of their time playing on natural grass fields. Moreover, “Sadly, but not unsurprisingly, this [DOH] reassuring finding has gotten far less attention in the media than the more alarming news about a cancer cluster among kids who play soccer on artificial turf. … Most of the time, though, quick conclusions about disease clusters and their causes don’t hold up to careful scrutiny.”

The voices of reason are coming from all corners. Just last week, Dr. Archie Bleyer, an expert in pediatric oncology with more than 300 peer-reviewed studies to his name and who spent 10 years as chair of the Children’s Cancer Group, wrote a commentary in the peer-reviewed journal Sports Medicine. Citing more than 41 sources, the piece states that science does not support the hypothesis that recycled rubber is unsafe, and, in fact, it promotes healthier lifestyles by providing more playing surfaces for kids, which in turn contributes to lessening the likelihood of cancer. What’s more, Dr. Michel D’Hooghe, chairman of the International Federation of Football Associations (FIFA) Medical Committee, wrote the following in a public letter to FIFA members: “A large number of studies have further confirmed that the effect of SBR rubber are as negligible as the effect of ingesting grilled foods or exposure to tire wear on roads in everyday life.”

Additionally, comparable overseas agencies have in recent months confirmed the findings of past studies. RIVM — essentially the Dutch equivalent of the EPA — published the results of its own risk assessment, concluding about recycled rubber, “…because the substances are more or less ‘enclosed’ in the granulate … the effect of these substances on human health is virtually negligible.”

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) found much the same after examining exposure through these fields to metals, PAHs and volatiles through skin contact, inhalation and ingestion, concluding that there exists a very low level of concern associated with recycled rubber, and saw no reason to advise against playing on such fields.

Most recently, the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation commissioned a field safety study on recycled rubber to determine if there were any hazards faced by young baseball players. Tests were then conducted on recycled rubber fields in five U.S. cities, finding that cancer risks were “at or below one in a million.” The Ripken Foundation also found that a number of oft-cited elements within recycled rubber were below Consumer Product Safety Commission limits for children’s products.

Simply put, the jury is no longer out on recycled rubber. There is a plethora of reputable science readily available on the topic, and evidence continues to pile up with strikingly consistent findings. As the multi-agency study drags on, turf industry jobs continue to be lost. Parents continue to worry for no reason.  Bureaucracy continues to beat out common sense.

At a certain point, enough is enough — the science is settled — and it is our hope that the multi-agency study can reach a meaningful conclusion in short order, letting all interested parties put unsubstantiated alarmist claims behind us once and for all.-By Art Dodge, Rom Reddy, & Darren Gill

 

Art Dodge is CEO of Ecore International. Darren Gill is vice president of marketing, innovation and customer service at FieldTurf and a member of the Safe Fields Alliance. Rom Reddy is managing partner and CEO of Sprinturf and a member of the Safe Fields Alliance.

Categories: test feeds

Communities banking on mega youth sports complexes

August 24, 2017

Youth sports travel is scoring big as communities across the United States build multisport complexes crammed with state-of-the-art fields, rinks and courts in hopes of drawing not only tournaments for kids crazy about sports – but also parents who spend big on transportation, hotels, food and family entertainment.

All across the country, communities are reinventing themselves as youth sports travel destinations, following a model that Disney helped launch 20 years ago with a sprawling sports complex in Kissimmee, Florida.

Youth sports tourism is the name of the game in Westfield, Indiana, a community of 30,000 that opened a 400-acre, $49 million sports complex in 2014. The largest publicly funded complex of its kind at the time has exceeded revenue expectations: the facility brought in 1.5 million total visitors in 2016, which translated into some 60,000 hotel night stays and $162.6 million into the area’s coffers.

Several years ago, Florida’s Seminole County began exploring ways to boost tourism dollars for their rural community north of Orlando. Local officials decided to spend $27 million on a multipurpose sports complex that could host youth tournaments on weekends. The county says the complex, completed in May 2016, brought in 58 tournaments and generated $25 million in economic benefits in its first nine months. Hotels are doing brisker business, especially on weekends when occupancy had typically been low, Seminole director of sports tourism Danny Trosset said.

“That’s where the sports groups come in. They help fill that void,” Trosset said. “This facility has been a huge boon for us.”

Seminole County decided on building its facility despite facing competition for regional and national youth events from The National Training Center in Clermont, Florida, and from the Disney facility in Kissimmee. Seminole county paid for the construction with $23 million from a tourist tax and $4 million from property tax.

Phil Krugman made the 3 ½-hour drive up to Seminole from the South Florida town of Margate to bring his 8-year-old son Jaxson to a PONY baseball league summer tournament at the sparkling complex, which boasts 15 baseball fields built on 100 acres of former orange groves. Nine of the fields are synthetic turf and can easily transition into fields for soccer, football and field hockey tournaments.

Krugman said he’s been to facilities in Florida, Louisiana and Texas with his son’s Margate All-Stars.

“This is my son’s third year on All-Stars and by far this is the best facility I’ve ever been to,” he said recently.

That the industry is “recession-proof” has been a talking point for developers and town councils since a 2009 study by the National Association of Sports Commissions and Ohio University showed participation in youth sports travel increased from 2008 to 2009 despite the Great Recession. Spending has increased by 10 percent in each of the past couple years. Some $10.4 billion in spending was generated in 2016.

“More teams are going each and every year, because the one thing we found is families will always invest in their kids no matter what,” said Jim Arnold, director of business development for The Sports Force & Fields, a planning and management company.

In Lexington, Kentucky, the Bluegrass Sports Commission is planning to build a $30 million complex with baseball, soccer, football and other kinds of multiuse fields, as soon as a location can be settled on.

“It’s a great win for communities anytime you can get new people, especially young people, coming to your city,” said Brian Miller, the commission’s president.

In Ohio, the city of Sandusky, with a population of about 26,000, opened a $23.5 million facility this spring on 57 acres with nine multipurpose synthetic turf fields, four NCAA regulation baseball fields, eight NCAA regulation soccer and lacrosse fields, as well as baseball and softball stadiums.

The pace of development has become so high that even some travel league executives fear there could soon be a glut in facilities. Experts warn that before communities invest heavily into sports complexes that they have an independent feasibility study done to gauge demand, competition and return on investment.

Amateur Athletic Union CEO Roger Goudy sees the potential for oversaturation if building continues at today’s rate.

“I just think it’s going to come to a point where there is going to be a glut of these things and it’s hard to pay the bill,” Goudy said. “It is a competitive marketplace.”

Some communities have pushed back against such plans, with residents opposed to extra traffic and noise or unconvinced that their tax dollars will fund a winning proposition. In early March, 73 percent of voters in the 23,000-strong town of Yukon, Oklahoma, voted “no” on an $18 million youth sports complex that would have raised property taxes.

In Florida’s Brevard County, district commissioner Trudi Infantini was the lone dissenting vote in 2015 when the board of commissioners agreed 4-to-1 to use a 5 percent hotel room tax to help raise $22 million to turn a former Major League Baseball spring training ground into a youth sports complex. “I’m all about the sports,” Infantini said, “I just don’t believe in government financing it.”- BY TERRANCE HARRIS Associated Press

Categories: test feeds

“Life-threatening” turf at an Idaho high school? Lax testing raises safety concerns

August 24, 2017

Safety stands as the key word at every level of football as the concussion crisis has gripped America’s most popular sport.

But the inconsistent application of safety standards on the Treasure Valley’s artificial turf fields raises the question: How safe are high school athletes on these fields?

Public records show Eagle High’s field reached “life-threatening” levels last fall, Dona Larsen Park’s field failed to meet its contractual safety levels at installation and Middleton High hasn’t tested its field since installing it six years ago.
Also at issue is which safety guidelines schools follow. The West Ada School District and Boise State both follow standards set by ASTM International. But some experts say adhering only to the highest allowable standard misses the point and puts players at risk.
“If you run at 10 mph as hard as you can, and you run into a brick wall and hit your head, you could expect to die,” said Buzz Splittgerber, who specializes in testing artificial turf. “What if I run into that same wall at 9 mph? What do I expect to happen — good things?”

‘LIFE-THREATENING’ LEVELS

So how hard is too hard? Testers use what’s called a G-max test to measure impact on the field. The higher the G-max score, the less impact the field is absorbing.

Any G-max scores above 200 “are considered values at which life-threatening head injuries may be expected to occur,” according to ASTM. The specifications also state if a single test point exceeds 200, no one should use the field until repairs can lower the score.
But some organizations recommend lower scores. The Synthetic Turf Council, an industry trade group, recommends 165 as its G-max limit. And manufacturer warranties for turf fields typically spell out their maximums at well below 200.

By comparison, a well-maintained natural grass field typically ranges from 80 to 140 on the G-max scale, depending on soil moisture and weather conditions, according to a brochure from the Sports Turf Managers Association.

WEST ADA

In the past 11 years, Meridian, Eagle, and Rocky Mountain high schools installed synthetic turf fields on their campuses. The West Ada School District received a crash course in G-max last summer, when the district hired Splittgerber of Buzz Turf to test Eagle’s and Rocky Mountain’s fields for $1,000 apiece.

Splittgerber did not test at Meridian because its new field was under construction.

The highest score at Rocky Mountain reached 184, according to results obtained by the Statesman through a public records request. That is above the Synthetic Turf Council’s guidelines and warranties around the Treasure Valley, but below the 200 threshold set by the ASTM, which the district follows. ASTM has established more than 12,000 voluntary standards covering everything from children’s toys to airplanes.

The larger concern came at Eagle, where Splittgerber’s tests showed three of 16 spots exceeding the “life-threatening” level of 200.

West Ada kicked Eagle’s football team off the field before the first day of practice Aug. 8 and hired ECOlux to make repairs. Before the team returned to the field Aug. 15, all three locations measured below 200, said Joe Yochum, West Ada assistant superintendent of operations.

But district testing records show results for only two of the three trouble spots. Results for the third spot — approximately the north 13-yard line — are missing.

“I was told verbally it was passed,” Yochum said. “I don’t know why I don’t have a record of it.”

The two documented locations Splittgerber did retest in August both measured below 200 — 195 and 124. ECOlux dropped the south goal line location dramatically by replacing a 5-yard section of turf between the hash marks.

The school district hired Splittgerber to test the same three spots again on Oct. 19 for $250. The missing location from August’s tests measured at 227, well above the “life-threatening” threshold.

ECOlux returned later that day to repair that location, but the district never retested its work. Yochum said the district felt that it didn’t need to because ECOlux previously made successful repairs. But ASTM guidelines state repairs should be “confirmed by subsequent testing.”

Without a test, West Ada couldn’t know the repairs lowered the G-max score, said Testing Services Lab Director Erle Miles, whose Georgia-based company tests almost 200 fields a year.

“That,” Miles said, “is an opinion.”

Eagle hosted five more games at Thunder Stadium after the Oct. 19 test — a JV game vs. Borah the next day, playoff games vs. Coeur d’Alene and Mountain View, as well as the Treasure Valley’s 8-man and 11-man all-star games.

Borah coach Jason Burton, Mountain View coach Judd Benedick, Coeur d’Alene coach Shawn Amos and Corey Turner, the director of the all-star games, said they were not aware of any safety issues at Eagle’s field. None could recall any concussions caused by the turf from those games.

Eagle coach Paul Peterson said he knew about the field’s problems in August but not the failed October test.

“They told me don’t be on it, so I wasn’t. They told me I could be, so I was,” Peterson said.

Turner said he would have moved the all-star games had he known about safety concerns.

“I could have played in Caldwell (at Simplot Stadium). I could have played in Middleton,” he said. “Caldwell was willing to give me their stadium for free.”

Eagle’s soccer teams played on a nearby grass field last season, and the Mustangs’ lacrosse team played its spring season at Eagle Middle School and the high school’s soccer field.
DONA LARSEN PARK

Boise’s four city high schools — Boise, Borah, Capital and Timberline — play their varsity football games at Dona Larsen Park, a field that failed to meet its project specifications and its warranty on opening day in 2012, according to public records.

The binding project specifications between Idaho’s Division of Public Works and McAlvain Construction mandated that none of the 10 G-max-tested locations on the field exceed 125 upon installation.

All 10 did, testing results show.

The FieldTurf warranty also guaranteed none of the 10 points would exceed 130 upon installation.

But six of 10 did, the highest reaching 155.

McAlvain Construction submitted a substantial completion certificate stating the project met its agreed-to contract. Barry Miller, Public Works project manager for Dona Larsen Park, said his agency can’t check every standard on a large project.

“We’re relying upon design professionals to tell us everything is up to the standards they had specified it,” Miller said. “… We don’t go and try to check every document and report.”

When told of these findings June 1, Tammie Newman, McAlvain Construction’s project director for Dona Larsen Park, said she needed time to search the company’s records. She did not return multiple calls in the past six weeks seeking comment. McAlvain was the only company with a state contract for Dona Larsen and hired the subcontractors.

FieldTurf performed repairs after the first season of use. Testing results show every point that was retested on Dec. 17, 2012, measured below the warrantied 130. But eight of the 10 still exceeded the project specification standard of 125.

Boise State, which owns Dona Larsen Park, accepted the repairs as sufficient.

“All parties agreed this was satisfactory, and the field was deemed acceptable under both the initial contract and the warranty agreement,” Boise State sports information director Joe Nickell wrote to the Idaho Statesman in an email.

The follow-up tests at Dona Larsen remained well below the ASTM “life-threatening” level of 200. But their higher-than-specified results could necessitate further repairs.

Dona Larsen’s specifications are the only ones in the Treasure Valley to require regular G-max testing. They mandated that Boise State test the field in 2014 and again in 2019, one year before the warranty expires.

All test points on Aug. 6, 2014, remained below FieldTurf’s lifetime warranty of 175. But after 20 months and one full season of high school football since repairs, the highest point reached 165 — the Synthetic Turf Council maximum — and six of the 10 fell between 155 and 165.

The university has no plans to test the field again until it’s required to in 2019, said Bob Carney, Boise State’s associate athletic director for facilities, operations and championships.

MIDDLETON HIGH

Middleton installed its turf field in the summer of 2011 with the requirement that the average G-max score at installation would not exceed 115. Testing records show it met those standards, averaging 110.1.

Middleton’s specifications are the only ones in the Treasure Valley to use an average and not any location.

The specifications for Middleton’s field also require that the G-max score never exceed an average of 150 through the life of its warranty, which expires before the 2019 football season. But the warranty from the turf manufacturer, Hellas Construction of Texas, doesn’t cover G-max. And Middleton has not tested its field since installation.

ASTM guidelines recommend, but don’t require, yearly testing. The Synthetic Turf Council recommends G-max testing after the first and third year of the turf’s use, and then at the field owner’s discretion afterward.

Darren Uranga, the director of finance and operations for the Middleton School District, admitted that Middleton can’t know the G-max score of its field without a test. But he pointed out that the district isn’t contractually obligated to test its field at any point after installation.

Nevertheless, with its warranty expiring in two years, he said the district is working to test it this summer.

“I know I’ve heard coaches and parents say our field is softer than other fields they’ve been on,” Uranga said
ERR ON THE SIDE OF SAFETY

The West Ada School District and Boise State claim ASTM as the only standard they follow for their turf fields, considering any score below 200 safe.

But Splittgerber said schools should aim for scores that are much lower.

“That is exactly what is ingrained in their head. Anything below 200 is safe because it’s not life-threatening anymore,” Splittgerber said.

“That’s just dumb. It’s like, ‘We want to fill the square so we can start playing football.’ That’s the most important thing we can do. It’s not, ‘Are these kids going to be in danger if we have 195?’ ”

Yochum and Spencer McLean, West Ada’s administrator of buildings and grounds, admit they knew nothing about G-max standards 18 months ago. But after a year and a half of hands-on experience, they realize the days of rolling out a turf field and calling it safe for 10 years without any maintenance are over.

“We want to err on the side of safety,” McLean said.
Boosters donated and installed all of West Ada’s original fields. But with the district investing $621,204 into a new field at Eagle and $592,491 into a new field at Meridian, and a replacement field due at Rocky Mountain in a couple of years, West Ada has established district-wide safety standards. It will test its fields yearly, and the new fields at Eagle and Meridian are warrantied not to exceed 150.

“Our goal is to create a safe environment,” McLean said. “That’s No. 1. If that means that we’ve got to spend $1,000 per field per year to have it tested and verified that we’re within the regulations that are acceptable, then that’s what we need to do.

“That seems like a small number to pay.”- BY MICHAEL LYCKLAMA

mlycklama@idahostatesman.com

 

Categories: test feeds

New Kentucky baseball stadium trades grass for AstroTurf

August 24, 2017

When the University of Kentucky takes the field for the first time in its new $49 million baseball stadium, that field will be AstroTurf.

UK announced last year that the stadium’s new surface would be synthetic. This week, the school revealed the company that would handle the installation, a change from the traditional real grass and dirt of the team’s current home, Cliff Hagan Stadium.

AstroTurf is the company that invented artificial playing surfaces in the 1960s and takes the name from its installation in Houston’s legendary Astrodome. The AstroTurf of today was everything Kentucky was looking for in a new playing surface.
“The synthetic tends to be more versatile in terms of the amount of hours you can be on it with any number of activities,” said Kevin Saal, UK’s executive associate athletic director who oversees internal operations. “When you’re dealing with a natural field, there’s a threshold of activity that you can have on that field, and be able to keep it pristine and first class for your competition season.”
About two years ago, the foul-ball territory at Cliff Hagan Stadium was replaced with synthetic turf. That area has proven to be more durable and versatile than natural grass, which is what led UK to choose a synthetic field over a natural one. UK’s football field, installed in 2015 by Vescio’s SportsFields, is also synthetic.

The new baseball field — AstroTurf’s Diamond Series — is made entirely of synthetic grass except the pitcher’s mound, which will be made from clay. The new field will be similar to the University of Louisville’s — although provided by a different company — on which UK played in this year’s NCAA Tournament super regional.

AstroTurf says it has installed more NCAA Division I synthetic baseball fields than any of the other artificial turf companies combined, including ones at Western Kentucky, Indiana and Michigan.

AstroTurf has also installed a synthetic field for Major League Baseball’s Toronto Blue Jays.

“Honestly, the stadium they’re building is ridiculous, … there’s going to be nothing like it in college baseball, I mean they’re building a palace,” Aaron Klotz, director of baseball operations at AstroTurf, said of UK. “For us to be involved in that, we feel very fortunate, very excited to work with Kentucky on this as well.”

The new stadium will feature 2,500 chair-back seats, additional space to accommodate about 4,000 fans for regular-season home games, and the option of temporary seating that could increase capacity to about 7,000 in the event that UK is selected to host NCAA Tournament games. UK broke ground on the stadium in March, and it’s targeted for completion by the fall of next year.

One of the concerns UK had with a synthetic surface was maintaining the high-traffic areas on a baseball field, such as the batters’ boxes and first-base area.

However, AstroTurf has come up with a way of replacing those areas without having to dig up the turf in a lengthy replacement process.

“I think that’s really game-changing in my opinion, is that you have a replacement panel system in the batters’ box area,” Klotz said, “You can actually Velcro-out one of the batters’ boxes and replace it when the turf wears out.”

The synthetic field also will reduce time spent in rain delays. The Wildcats spent more than two hours in a rain delay before their regional championship win over North Carolina State this past season, much of it after the rain had stopped.

“You got a mound tarp to protect the clay mound and as soon as the rain stops, you’re playing because it all drains through a gravel and sand sub base,” Saal said.

Another concern UK had with an artificial field was how the play of the game would be affected. While baseball purists won’t be able to get the natural grass look they enjoy, they won’t have to worry about a synthetic field altering the play of the game, Saal said.

“They (AstroTurf) could take their testing equipment and put it on the Cliff field right now and they could get, over time: average degradation of bounce height, or ball speed, how high is it bouncing up off the ground if it hits at a 45-degree angle,” he said.

Saal said AstroTurf could then take that profile created on Cliff Hagan’s field and match it to the new synthetic surface.

On top of doing studies and tests in Lexington, the UK staff also did some research elsewhere to see how other synthetic fields hold up.

“We took two days and went to five or six different facilities in the region, and we talked with their director of sports turf or grounds, we talked with their head baseball coach. We talked about playability and consistency and some of the issues they had,” Saal said.

As for the rest of the stadium, construction has gone smoothly and the opening date of late summer/early fall 2018 is still on track. Saal said a lot of the dirt grading work has been done, and most of the concrete walls around the locker room lounge and tunnels have been poured.

He said that steel work will start next week, meaning fans will see elevated structures when they drive to Kroger Field for football games soon.- CHRIS LEACH

cleach@herald-leader.com

 

Categories: test feeds

Buffalo MiLB park again to host golf

August 22, 2017

Coca-Cola Field will again be turned into a golf course, of sorts, with the return of the “The Links at Coca-Cola Field,” from Sept. 15 through Sept. 17.

The nine-hole, par-27 course is a unique experience where golfers will take swings from eight tee boxes located around the ballpark, including home plate and the right-field party deck. This year’s updated course includes three club-level shots as well as different pin placements. The course includes a one-hole putting challenge in the Bisons’ indoor batting cages.

Each hole will feature a theme, including “extras” such as crowd noise or unfavorable weather conditions. A new theme, the “double down” hole, will dare golfers to bet on themselves, allowing good shots to be scored better (pars as birdies and birdies as aces) but bad shots will be turned worse (bogeys become double bogeys and doubles become triples).

Putting Hole No. 8 will be the “Disco Ball” hole where golfers will hit neon balls through a green illuminated only by disco lights.

Mulligans can be purchased before the round, allowing a second chance at any hole, with the exception of the “Double Down” hole. Each mulligan costs $5, with a maximum of two per golfer, with proceeds going to the Buffalo Bisons Charitable Foundation.

A round of golf at The Links at Coca-Cola Field will cost $55 per golfer and include a special Links at Coca-Cola Field golf towel and cap, a logo OnCore golf ball, a post-round beverage, parking and two Bisons 2018 Opening Day tickets. A premium package, which will also include a limited edition Links at Coca-Cola Field shoe bag, is $85 per golfer.

Tee times are available online at LinksAtCocaColaField.com and at Bisons.com. Times available are from 6-10 p.m. Sept. 15; 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and 3-7 p.m. on Sept. 16; and 8 a.m. to noon on Sept. 17.

The course:

No. 1: Stepping to the Tee (Par 3, 80 yards): Golfers’ names and hometowns will be announced to the gallery.

No. 2: BuffaLove (Par 3, 65 yards): Take your swing wearing either a football, hockey or baseball helmet.

No. 3: Caddyshack (Par 3, 135 yards): Enjoy a craft beer sample from Resurgence Brewing.

No. 4: NOONAN!!! (Par 3, 100 yards): Test your concentration with a little extra crowd noise.

No. 5: A Toast to the King (Par 3, 72 yards): Mix your own “Arnold Palmer” in honor of one of the greatest golfers that ever lived.

No. 6: The “Double Down” (Par 3, 124 yards): Option to bet on yourself. Hole will be scored Birdie 1, Par 2, Bogey 5, Double Bogey 6.

No. 7: Not Coming Down for Quite Some Time (Par 3, 103 yards): A little extra ‘weather’ added for this tee shot.

No. 8: A Disco Ball (Par 3, 19 feet): Using a Happy Gilmore-esque hockey stick putter, put a neon golf ball in a hole lit only by disco lights.

No. 9: The Cinderella Boy (Par 3, 81 yards): Line up this last shot and knock it in. Hole-in-one wins a $250 Bisons gift card.- by Amy Moritz, The Buffalo News (New York)

Categories: test feeds

Notre Dame Stadium gets new look

August 22, 2017

From inside it looks utterly familiar, but also strangely dreamlike.

Three tall buildings loom beyond the walls of Notre Dame Stadium. The classic bowl itself looks much as it has in recent years, minus the traditional redwood benches.

Those wooden benches have all been replaced with steel benches covered in blue vinyl.

There’s premium seating, a 96-by-54 foot video screen on the south wall, ribbon video boards, enhanced Wi-Fi service, a new narrow tunnel for the visiting team and living “green” roofs.

This is not your grandfather’s Notre Dame Stadium.

That much was evident Friday during a tour for news media of the $400 million Campus Crossroads project that added three buildings to the exterior of the 87-year-old football stadium, as well as premium fan seating atop those buildings.

And the university plans to host other events — such as concerts and professional sports teams — in the stadium, and will make the hospitality spaces available for lease for large functions. Notre Dame Stadium and its adjacent buildings won’t be a community focus just six or seven weekends a year.

Beside the switch to steel benches, the chair-back gold seats near the field have been replaced with new navy blue ones. The flagpole, long at the northeast corner of the field, now stands at the southeast corner. A small tunnel for the visiting team to enter and exit the field is in that northeast corner, with the large north tunnel now reserved only for use by the Fighting Irish.

The Notre Dame Marching Band will no longer be seated in the northeast corner. The 400 band members will sit in the stands in the north end zone, next to the regular student section.

The wood from the old benches has been reclaimed for decorative uses in the concourses and in the three new buildings.

Although not evident to the naked eye, the cramped bench seating in the lower bowl has been renumbered, adding an average width of two inches of space for each fan, according to university officials. Fans will have to judge that new spaciousness for themselves when the 2017 season opens on Sept. 2.

Prior to this project, Notre Dame Stadium’s official capacity was 80,795.

About 3,000 premium seats have been added. But with all field seats removed and lower bowl seats widened, the overall seating capacity will decrease to between 78,000 and 79,000 seats. The university hasn’t yet announced the new official seating capacity.

The old scoreboard on the north end of the stadium has been removed to provide a better view of the “Touchdown Jesus” mural on the front of Hesburgh Library. Ribbon video boards have been installed along the east and west sides inside the stadium.

In the north tunnel, new banners have been hung representing each of Notre Dame’s 11 national championship football titles. And words from a famous pep speech by legendary Irish coach Knute Rockne are now on display in that tunnel. (It’s the speech that includes the lines: “We’re gonna get ’em on the run. We’re going to go! Go! Go!”)

There’s a “Play Like a Champion Today” sign for students to slap as they enter the student section, a reproduction of the famous sign in the Fighting Irish locker room.

New stadium lights and a new press box (on the east side of the stadium) were in use for the 2016 season.

For fan safety, hand railings have been added in the aisles in the lower bowl. And some of those railings include decorative panels that conceal Wi-Fi antennas. Wi-Fi service is now available throughout the stadium and a new dedicated cellular network will provide significantly improved cell service in the facility, university officials said.

The concourses include new art deco-style light figures, brick-faced columns and 150 large-screen TVs. Images of classic Notre Dame football game program covers mark each seating section and reproductions of vintage game tickets add more artistic flair.

There are two levels of premium seating.

The loge level has semi-private seating areas with rolling back chairs, tables and personal tablets for every two seats. That outdoor seating include access to an indoor club space, food and beverages, in-seat wait service, reserved parking and other amenities. All loge seats are now sold out, according to Notre Dame.

Club level seats offer outdoor seating with a heated overhang, cushioned seats, access to an indoor club space, and food and beverages. More than 98 percent of club seating is now sold, with just a few dozen seats remaining, said John Heisler, a senior associate athletics director. (For more information about premium seating, call 574-631-3500.)

Some of the premium seats have access to adjacent terraces with additional seating and panoramic views of the football field and the campus. The club seating on the west side of the stadium allows patrons access to a 500-seat ballroom inside the new student center. Except for football games, the ballroom will be used mainly for student dances and other activities, and will be available for lease for private events.

There are four corporate box suites on the stadium’s west side that are leased out for individual games.

The Campus Crossroads project includes three new buildings: nine-story Duncan Student Center, a study, fitness, career counseling and student activities building on the west side of the stadium; nine-story Corbett Family Hall, an anthropology, psychology and digital media building on the east side; and O’Neill Hall, a six-story music building on the south side.

The top three floors of Duncan Student Center will open in September, with the lower floors (featuring the student center, fitness facility, career counseling and three restaurants) slated to open in January 2018.

The new two-story student/employee fitness center in Duncan will triple the space currently available in Rolfs Sports Recreation Center. Rolfs will be converted to a practice facility for the Notre Dame men’s and women’s basketball teams, and wooden basketball floors will be added in the north dome of the Joyce Center to provide additional space for basketball practice.

The media center and anthropology department will move into Corbett by January, with the psychology department scheduled to move in next summer. The music building is scheduled to be fully occupied by January.

O’Neill Hall, the south building, will house a private club/lounge on its fourth floor. It’s called the South Club, and it will include Harper’s Bar (named after Jesse Harper, Notre Dame football coach from 1913 to 1917). The club will be available for lease for private events at other times.

The three buildings have “green” roofs: 43,000 square feet of roof space covered with living plants as a commitment to sustainability. LEED Silver certification will be sought for all three buildings.

Duncan and Corbett, at 137 feet in height, now hold the distinction of a tie for fourth tallest structures on campus. (Tallest is the spire of Sacred Heart Basilica, at 230 feet, followed by Hesburgh Library, 210 feet, then the top of the Golden Dome on the Main Building, 187 feet.)

A driving ramp leading underground has been built southwest of the stadium complex. That drive leads to underground loading docks and a commercial kitchen/catering service for the three buildings and the stadium.

To run the new buildings on football weekends and through the year, Notre Dame is adding more than 60 full-time positions and about 765 part-time or on-call seasonal jobs.

Construction work continues in the three Campus Crossroads buildings. University officials say the football stadium itself will be ready when fans arrive for the Sept. 2 first home game, which features the Fighting Irish vs. the Temple Owls.- by Margaret Fosmoe, South Bend Tribune (Indiana)

Categories: test feeds

Sports complex leverages cooperative

August 22, 2017

The O’Fallon Family Sports Park has scored big time with a cooperative purchasing agreement that has delivered seven new soccer fields in less than 90 days while saving $1 million. Rather than put the project out to bid, the city tapped the National Joint Power Alliance (NJPA) to complete all of its product and service purchasing. The turnkey project for the artificial turf field was procured through NJPA vendor Shaw Sports Turf; St. Louis-based Byrne & Jones Sports performed the work transforming the sports complex’s natural turf fields to synthetic turf.

Cooperative purchase agreements allow cities, schools and governmental entities to more efficiently procure products and services through vendors that have been thoroughly vetted and priced by a cooperative purchasing entity.  The purchasing consortium becomes the lead agency in bidding and awarding contracts for its members who can select turnkey contracts that have already been competitively bid.  It saves time and money because there is one procurement process rather than many.

Staples, MN-based NJPA leverages the national purchasing power of more than 50,000 member agencies while also streamlining the required purchasing process.  In the case of O’Fallon, it established a guaranteed maximum price of $4.5 million for the seven new fields, including installation. The city originally projected the cost to be $5.5 million to put the bid out themselves, including the product and warranty, engineering and the certified builder to perform site preparation and installation.

“We wanted to ensure taxpayer money on the sports complex renovations was spent wisely,” said Mary Jeanne Hutchison, director of O’Fallon Parks and Recreation. “NJPA gave us a complete package that had been thoroughly researched and priced.  In the end, we got the product we wanted for the right price and were able to streamline the construction process to get all seven fields built in 89 calendar days.” The renovation work is funded by the local hotel and motel tax.

Hutchison said the process entailed going to NJPA’s bid board to find the right synthetic soccer turf and installation package. “The quality of the turf is only going to be as good as the subsurface conditions.  That requires a certified builder proficient in site preparation including amending soil conditions and improving drainage.  All of that was built into our Shaw Sports Turf package,” noted Hutchison.   Byrne & Jones managed all project specifications including site preparation, grading, drainage and turf installation.

The new fields are part of renovations to the O’Fallon Family Sports Park that include new restrooms and parking lot improvements to accommodate 700 vehicles.  The new fields will be used for soccer, lacrosse, and other activities. “We start team practice and league play in August and the first of five tournaments are scheduled starting in September,” said Hutchison.  “The cooperative purchasing process has allowed us no loss of field time.”

“The Shaw Sports Turf package met all the standards that schools and public entities should look for in the purchasing of synthetic turf system, including price, durability, longevity, safety and playability,” said Jameson Sheley, general manager, Byrne & Jones Sports.

As budgets become tighter, more schools and public entities are turning to cooperative purchases to save costs and streamline construction.  Sheley noted that it can be a challenge to find the right building partner for athletic surfaces.  “Cooperative purchasing agreements have made easier for public entities because they’ve thoroughly vetted the product and installation specifications that must be followed in the bid package,” noted Sheley.  Byrne & Jones has installed more than one thousand sports surfaces, including tracks and synthetic turf fields.

www.byrneandjones.com.

Categories: test feeds

U of Tennessee Field Day September 7

August 22, 2017

The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture will present the 2017 Turf and Ornamental Field Day on September 7 at the UT’s East Tennessee AgResearch and Education, and big crowds are expected for this popular professional educational event. Previous turf and ornamental field days have attracted more than 500 participants.
Designed to address topics primarily of interest to turf and landscape management professionals, faculty supporting the Turf and Ornamental Field Day will present short seminars on topics including:

* Weed Control for Turf and Ornamentals

* Fungicide Management

* Non-chemical Ryegrass Transitioning

* Integrated Pest Management Resources

* Keeping High-use Sports Fields Safe

* Establishing Hybrid Bermudagrass

* Mower Configuration

* Ornamental and Turf Disease Management and Insect Pests

 ​
An additional presentation will update attendees regarding the activities of the Center for Athletic Field Safety.

Several continuing education options will be available to guests. Attendees will be able to receive as many as five pesticide recertification credits in Tennessee categories C1, C3, C6, C10, and C12; and credits will be available for attendees from Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, and South Carolina as well.  International Society of Arboriculture credits will be provided and the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America​ will be offering 0.45 continuing education credits to members who attend.
Discounted preregistration is available online via credit card at a cost of $65 at tiny.utk.edu/TurfFieldDay. On-site registration will also be available on the day of the event, but for a higher fee. All patrons will receive a breakfast and BBQ lunch thanks to generous support from numerous industry sponsors.

ag.tennessee.edu.

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International Resources

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