News from the American Sports Builders Association                                                        January 2015

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Missed the Technical Meeting? Here's a Sneak Peek

This year’s Technical Meeting included a wide variety of topics, designed to appeal to all sectors of the industry. In addition to addressing ASBA’s specific divisions (Tennis, Track, Fields and Indoor), there was also a programming track on business issues and general interest.

Those who missed programs – after all, it is impossible to be more than one place at a time – can catch up on some of those sessions by reading the PowerPoint presentations designed by the speakers. Go to the website,, then from the toolbar across the top, select “Event,” then from the drop-down menu, choose “Technical Meeting Sessions.” Once you’ve clicked this line, you will be taken to a page with links for programs at various Technical Meetings. Select the one for 2014 (it’s at the top of the list) and you’ll be able to choose from among a variety of sessions.

In the past, speakers offered handouts; however, in the interest of being eco-friendly, budget-friendly and baggage weight-friendly, ASBA is now offering handouts in digital format.

The following is a selection of sessions presented at the meeting:

“Synthetic Turf Recycling: End of Life Strategies”
Adam Coleman, PE, LEED AP
Turf Reclamation Solutions

The program covered the developing (and constantly evolving) issue of synthetic turf fields. Many first-generation fields are nearing the end of their useful life, meaning they are, at best, starting to show wear, or are at worst, unplayable because of advanced degradation.

Coleman’s estimate was that there are about 10,000 turf fields in the U.S. presently. With the typical lifespan of a field being eight to 12 years, and with a rising number of fields being installed each year, there will be 1,000 fields needing to be taken out per year by 2016. The math might be the only easy part of the problem. Each sports field is, on average, 80,000 square feet and contains 400,000 pounds of infill. Multiply that by 1,000 fields per year, and Coleman noted there would be 80,000,000 square feet of turf and 400,000,000 pounds of infill going into landfills – unless something can be done to reverse the trend.

Some projects are already embracing the need to be more eco-friendly in rebuilding existing turf fields. Coleman presented a case study of a football stadium in Louisville, KY. In this project, turf was cut into 45” strips, rolled and carted away. Approximately 95 of the sand/rubber infill was reclaimed for use in the new turf, which was laid over the existing base.

It was noted that while infill products have advanced to the point of predictability (early fields had infill with greater variances in sand size, percentage of sand/rubber, etc.) and are therefore easier to reuse, the market for post-field use turf surfaces is more complicated. The technology exists to turn this material into products such as pallets, plastic pots, handles and molded plastic dog bowls; however, it needs to become more readily available, which will lead to lower costs for this process.

In conclusion, Coleman noted, the industry still faces challenges, but there are recommendations for best practices that, once carried out, can help make turf fields more eco-friendly. Bid packages can include a waste management plan. Discounts can be applied for reuse of all or part of the infill. There should be a chain of custody that is part of the payment process, as well as a financial penalty for failing to meet expectations. All parties must agree on the definitions of reuse and recycle, and must be ready to take responsibility for steps in the process.

Retrofits – Track Now/Turf Later and Vice Versa
Eric Roise, Gale Associates
Don Smith, CTB, Don Smith CTB, LLC

This two-person session used two case studies to discuss the differing scope of work and the order of work done when a track and field facility was scheduled for retrofit.

In the first part of the session, Eric Roise discussed two projects in which replacement tracks were completed on school facilities during summer vacation. Work on the field facilities (in one project, the field was natural grass; the other field was synthetic turf) would be performed at a later date so that the fields would be available for fall sports.

The first project required a new running track to replace the existing facility, and paving of the D areas. In addition, the project had extreme sloping conditions, requiring regarding and leveling. A new full-depth urethane track over an asphalt base was to be installed. Access to concessions and storage buildings at the north end of the track had to be maintained, and the owner wanted to use the existing drainage. Roise detailed the work performed and discussed the challenges involved with accommodating regular maintenance work that had to be done on the grass field, including mowing, watering and so forth – all while structural work was done and the track installed.

In the second project, the replacement track encircled a synthetic turf field. The existing poly nail board needed to be replaced by a concrete curb and trench drain system. Once trenching for the curb began, however, it was discovered the base included multiple asphalt overlays, eventually necessitating a new base. Along the way, contractors were faced with boulders that needed to be removed and a sinkhole that needed to be remedied as well as an artifact pipe under the project.

Following Roise’s presentation, Don Smith addressed a project in which the field was to be retrofitted but the track was to remain intact until later. In Smith’s project, the goals were to preserve the track, eliminate the original ‘zero’ lane and retrofit the curb. In addition, the project necessitated the relocation of some of the field events outside the track (where they could still be seen but would not harm the synthetic field surface that was going in), the installation of the new turf system, add drainage, cap the old irrigation system and resurface (meaning performing only repairs, structural spray and relining – not rebuilding) the track.

Smith detailed the step-by-step process of removing the zero lane, covering an existing irrigation box, forming both the curved and straight curbs, pouring the concrete and moving some of the field events. (The track, he noted, was resurfaced during football season when it would not be in use).

Lighting Technologies for Outdoor and Indoor Tennis Courts
Bruce Frasure
LSI Industries, Inc.

The session provided a recap of lighting technologies used through the years, as well as current trends in lighting today.
Frasure mentioned the following systems, and discussed the pros and cons of each:

  • High Intensity Discharge (Metal Halide and Pulse Start)

  • Metal Halide

  • Fluorescent

  • LED (Light Emitting Diode)

  • Induction

  • LEP (Light Emitting Plasma)

Of all the systems on the market, LED is by far the buzziest, with high-profile facilities beginning to make news by installing it. The USTA Tennis Center and the stadium for the Arizona Cardinals have both installed LED.
Yet while LED is getting a great deal of attention, it’s far from the only system on the market – and in general, it’s far from inexpensive. Ultimately, the system chosen by the consumer should take into consideration aspects including performance, ease of maintenance, intended use (and level of use), hours of use, overall budget for installation, maintenance budget and more.

Frasure also detailed various systems and discussed which is most suitable for use in given installations, indoor and outdoor. There are multiple options, depending upon the facility, the location, the budget and the use. In indoor facilities, for example, the owner is faced with the choice of direct or indirect lighting (or a combination of the two) would work more efficiently.

Finally, Frasure noted, those who want information on various companies and their lighting systems within the industry are encouraged to contact Design Lights Consortium (DLC) and look on its QPL (Qualified Products List). The DLC, Frasure notes, promotes quality, performance and energy-efficient commercial sector lighting solutions through collaboration among its federal, regional, state, utility and energy efficiency program members, luminaire manufacturers, lighting designers and other industry stakeholders throughout the U.S. and Canada. The website is 

Jobsite Material Handling, Inventory, Logistic, and Jobsite Conditions, Inspections, Lighting, Environmental Control
Todd Goodridge, Robbins Flooring
Bruce Haroldson, Connor Sports
Sarju Patel, Mondo America
Joe Covington, Covington Floor Co.

This panel discussion, which was presented in cooperation with the input of the audience, walked participants through the various points that must be addressed prior to construction of any indoor facility.

The pre-job site inspection was noted to be an essential part of the process. The individual chosen for this role must have a complete knowledge of the project and be able to work with all parties involved. In addition, he or she must have excellent communication skills and be able to bring everyone to the table when tough decisions or unpleasant subjects are involved.

Building conditions must be not only checked prior to construction or reconstruction, but monitored throughout the process. Start with the slab surface and inspect for levelness (the industry standard is 1/8” in a 10’ radius) and specification must be made as to what party is responsible for corrective work if the slab does not meet the standard. In addition, dryness must be monitored and moisture suppression systems used if needed. (Note that dryness can be tested using several methods; these include in-slab relative humidity, calcium chloride monitoring and electronic testing using a Tramex meter).

Conditions throughout the structure must be monitored as well, including relative humidity and temperature. Monitor the environment and compare it to the recommendations of the surfacing manufacturer; all specifications must be met before work can commence. (Often, it was noted, owners would have their own deadlines in mind, and those would have little relation to the realities of construction – or at the very least, the realities of successful construction. A project that finishes early isn’t going to be worth much if the flooring delaminates due to improper cure time).

Once Construction Begins: Staging and storage of materials are both critical parts of a successful work area. The project manager should work with the crew and the owner to decide where materials can be unloaded, what the best route is to get these to the jobsite and the most efficient and safe way to stage and store materials that while not in use yet, will be shortly. Unloading and inventorying should be done only by those who are inspecting materials as they arrive.

As Written vs. Why Can’t We Just…? It is not uncommon, the panelists, noted, for the scope of the project to change a bit, particularly if an owner or someone on the consumer side decides something else is needed – different game lines, additional pieces of sports equipment, etc. Don’t be afraid to refer back to the work order, and have the owner, project manager and others sign off on any changes that are to be made. It can save on a lot of headaches later.

Once work is completed, be as methodical getting ready to leave as you were getting ready to work. Communicate with the owner, and any other relevant personnel, and have a walk-through conducted and a written approval signed off as soon as possible – and take notes and photos of the project in case questions arise later. Work out with the owner whether any leftover building or surfacing materials will be removed by you, or left behind for the owner’s use.

Synthetic Turf Selection Issues (Testing, Safety, Concussion, Fiber Selection, Infill Selection)
Ryan Teeter, Leading Design and Development, LLC

This session discussed not only turf selection but various factors influencing them. Because many fields installed in the last 10 years are now in the process of being replaced (or at least considered for replacement), Ryan Teeter discussed the ways turf can be evaluated and measured.

G-Max testing, Teeter stated, should the first step in evaluating any field. ASTM F1936-10 (Standard Specification for Impact Attenuation of Turf and Playing Systems as Measured in the Field) is the most widely used test. Infiltration testing, to evaluate drainage, is another essential tool.

Teeter touched upon turf upkeep. The reality, he said “is it’s needed, but not done enough.” This stems from the mistaken belief that because synthetic fields do not require mowing, fertilizer, etc., they are maintenance-free. Realistically, however, turf that is groomed regularly looks better and performs well for a longer time than a field that goes untouched.

A field’s design can also impact its use. Fields can be designed for specific sports, for certain user groups, for distinct weather patterns and amounts of precipitation and more. As materials and design continue to advance, it is feasible that fields will be able to last from 16-20 years (at least two lifecycles by today’s count).

In closing, Teeter discussed the teardown and recycling of synthetic fields, component by component (turf, infill, e-layer, etc.). It was, he noted, an industry on the cusp of growing. In some cases, technology will need to catch up to the supply of materials that are waiting to be recycled.

© 2015 American Sports Builders Association 

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