Whether you are designing a brand new facility or renovating an old field, the following information provides facts and advice for building and maintaining a successful playing surface.

Certification Programs





University of Virginia Scott Football Stadium Field
Photo courtesy of Carolina Green Corp


Construction of a new playing surface involves installing drainage and irrigation, choosing a rootzone, and establishing a turf species.

city of wilmington

City of Wilmington - Legion Stadium & Hardee Baseball Stadium
Photo courtesy of Carolina Green Corp

You must be a member to view the following resources:
Field Crowns and Slopes (m)
Irrigation (m)
Rootzone (m)
Turfgrass Selection (m)


Reconstruction of a field usually involves adjusting the grade. Determining what the entire field needs before starting a project can sometimes save a lot of time and money. The field may only need minor repairs to adjust the grade or complete reconstruction. The most accurate way to determine the correct grade is to survey the field. 

On any field, elevation adjustments should begin at the highest point of the crown. For example, when reconstructing a baseball field, elevation adjustments should always begin between the pitcher’s mound and home plate, then work out to the baselines, the rest of the skinned area and finally the outfield. This will eliminate any possibility of a slope towards the infield, or the middle of any field. If soil needs to be added to adjust the grade, the soil being added must match the existing soil as closely as possible. Otherwise, layering and drainage problems could result. Common methods to regrade include removing the sod and adding soil or removing the sod and topsoil, adjusting the subsoil to the correct grade, then replacing the topsoil and sod. 

References: The information for this section was taken from the book Sports Fields: A Manual for Design, Construction and Maintenance by Jim Pulhalla, Jeff Krans, and Mike Goatley. 


Field renovation is the process of restoring a field to its original condition after undergoing the stress of a competitive season. Once the season ends, it is good to renovate and then allow two to four weeks for recovery. Although renovation typically does not involve soil addition or removal for grading purposes, it is a good time to consider recrowning a field if necessary. 

In baseball, renovation techniques include deep tilling of the skinned area, adding soil for drainage, seeding and sodding and lip removal. 

In football, rugby, soccer, field hockey and lacrosse, renovation techniques include aggressive aeration, filling in low spots, topdressing, and seeding, sprigging, plugging and/or sodding. In the north, it is beneficial to seed in the late fall, which is called dormant seeding. This way, in the spring, there will be optimum seed germination. In the south, it is best to seed in the spring to prevent cold temperature injury to Bermudagrass seed. 

grass roots

Soccer, hockey and lacrosse require additional attention to the goal mouth areas as they become extremely worn and compacted. The soil needs to be broken up, regraded to match the rest of the field, then seeded or sodded. 

Croquet court renovation techniques include aerating and topdressing. 

Renovation on nonporous tennis courts includes repainting and sealing cracks. On clay and fast dry courts, the surface should be loosened, leveled and topdressed once per year. On grass courts, aeration, topdressing, and leveling are necessary for the best performance. 

Renovation to all weather track surfaces includes cleaning and line painting. Sometimes they need to be resurfaced, but this should only take place every 4-7 years. Cinder tracks require the addition of cinders once a year. 

References: The information for this section was taken from the book Sports Fields: A Manual for Design, Construction and Maintenance by Jim Pulhalla, Jeff Krans, and Mike Goatley. 

Whether constructing a brand new surface or renovating an existing surface, it is important to meet safety and design specifications.  ASTM International, formerly known as the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), is a globally recognized leader in the development and delivery of international voluntary consensus standards. Today, some 12,000 ASTM standards are used around the world to improve product quality, enhance safety, facilitate market access and trade, and build consumer confidence. ASTM's leadership in international standards development is driven by the contributions of its members: more than 30,000 of the world's top technical experts and business professionals representing 150 countries. Working in an open and transparent process and using ASTM's advanced electronic infrastructure, ASTM members deliver the test methods, specifications, guides, and practices that support industries and governments worldwide.

ASTM has developed various documents for athletic surface construction. The ASTM documents listed here are available for purchase through the ASTM website (  If interested in purchasing multiple standards or a package of standards, contact Lisa Palmer at

Indoor Surfaces


Once construction/reconstruction/renovation is complete, the future success of the field is determined by the maintenance program. Construction becomes a wasted effort if the field is not maintained properly.  

Resources (you must be an STMA member to access the following information):
Annual Athletic Field Maintenance Calendar for Cool Season Turfgrasses
Annual Athletic Field Maintenance Calendar for Warm Season Turfgrasses
Annual Athletic Field Maintenance Calendar for the Transition Zone

Certfication Programs

American Sports Builders Association (ASBA) Certified Field Builder
ASBA created the Certified Field Builder Program to help raise professional standards and to improve the practice of field construction.  Certifications in both natural and synthetic turf are available.  View the following video to learn more about the certification.

Click here to view the video.


A Relative Comparison of Options for Building/Renovating a Football/Soccer Field - Iowa State University
Specification Outline, Construction, and Maintenance - Penn State University
Athletic Field Construction and Establishment: Basic Requirements for Native Soils - University of Kentucky
Constuction and Maintenance of Skinned Sports Surfaces - University of Kentucky
Field Dimensions
Summer Bermudagrass Renovation Vegetative Varieties - University of Kentucky
Renovating Sports Fields with Seeded Bermuda - University of Kentucky
Procedure for Selecting a Sand Rootzone - Iowa State University
Managing Soil vs. Sand Fields - Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs
Building and Maintaining Soccer Fields in Indiana - Purdue University
A Guide to Synthetic and Natural Turfgrass for Sports Fields - Selection, Construction and Maintenance Considerations
Natural Grass Athletic Fields
Natural Grass Athletic Fields PowerPoint

Turfgrass Selection

Turfgrass Establishment - Penn State University
Turfgrass Establishment - University of Tennessee
Site Preparation and Turfgrass Propagation - Penn State University

You must be a member to view the following resources:
8 Steps to an Easy Field Facelift
Football Practice Techniques that Help Minimize
Field Wear Strategies for Managing Heavily-Used Fields
Thatch Management
Sprigging Bermudagrass
Understanding Soil Tests 
Flooding on Sports Fields 
Snow Removal
Football/Soccer Safety and Maintenance Checklist
Baseball/Softball Safety and Maintenance Checklist
The STMA Collection of ASTM Standards for Athletic Fields 
Advisory Bulletin 1: Determining the Right Sports Field for Your Athletes
Advisory Bulletin 2: Suggested Equipment List
Advisory Bulletin 3: In-House; Architect-Bid-Contractor; Design-Build; Owner's Representative... What works best for building your sports field?
Advisory Bulletin 4: The Fundamentals of Project Management
Advisory Bulletin 5: 'Lessons Learned': Peer Advice on the Management of Synthetic Sports Fields
Defending Your "Turf" - Play Offense
Fall Field Renovation - Jeff Fowler, Turf Educator for Penn State Cooperative Extension, shares tips and advice for fall field renovation.  Fall renovation considerations on turf areas include fertilization, aerification, topdressing, overseeding, sodding, and mowing.  Contact Kristen Althouse ( for access to the podcast. 

Construction Sessions featured at STMA National Conferences:
2013 - STMA 116 - The National Mall Renovation: Design, Construction, Maintenance & Event Management Speakers: Murray Cook, Norman Hummel, Ph.D., Erik Ervin, Ph.D.
2013 - STMA 207 - Building it Right ....... for all the Right Reasons Speaker: Jim W. T. Plasteras
2013 - STMA 312 - Converting from Cool Season to Warm Season Grass Speaker: Darian Daily
2013 - STMA 311 - Concert Setup and other special events, and still play tomorrow Speaker: Chris Ralston
2013 - STMA 316 - The Benefits from Using the PCI Assessment Tool; STMA PCI; STMA PCI Frequently Asked Questions Speaker: Kurt Nilsson
2012 - Four-Inch Sand Cap Renovation and Grow-in Speaker: John Netwal, CGCS, North Scott Community Schools
2012 -
If You Build it They Will Come, But How Do You Maintain It? Speaker: Mike Trigg, CSFM, Waukegan Park District
2011 - Native Soil Field Improvement and Construction: Making the Best of What You Have Speakers: Jason Henderson, Ph.D., Chad Price, CSFM
2011 -
The Spartan Cap Athletic Field System ; Session Handout Speaker: Alexander Kowalewski, Ph.D.
2011 - The Sports Turf Managers Role in Planning, Design and Construction of a Sports Complex ; Session Handout Speaker: Mike Trigg, CSFM, Paul Wiese
2011 - How Two NFL Organizations Approached New Technology in Field Surfaces ; Allen Johnson, CSFM Presentation ; Brief History of Green Bay Packers' Fields Speakers: Nick Fedewa, Allen Johnson, CSFM
2011 - Turf on the Frozen Tundra - Building Fields for the Green Bay Packers Speakers: Ellen Davis, Allen Johnson, CSFM, Andrew McNitt, Ph.D., Brian Storm, David Anderson
2011 - The First Year of the Philadelphia Union Field Speaker: Jason Bowers, CSFM 

Construction/Renovation Podcasts
Effective Overseeding Methods for Heavily Trafficked Cool Season Turf - Ohio State University
Relieving Soil Compaction - Ohio State University
Linden McKinley High School Renovation - Ohio State University
Renovation at Villa Park Soccer Field in England - Ohio State University
Brookhaven Baseball Field Renovation - Ohio State University
C ase Study: Ohio Stadium Field Replacement - 2006 - Ohio State University
OSU Practice Facility Renovation - Ohio State University



International Resources


Student challenge