News from the American Sports Builders Association                                                        January 2016

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Technical Meeting Programming: See What You Missed

This year’s Technical Meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona, was one of the best-attended ever. An advantage to this: even more people were able to take advantage of the outstanding technical programming.

Sessions were offered in each time frame during the two days of programming, addressing various divisions: Tennis, Track, Fields and Indoor. In addition, there was a track of what were known as General topic programs, often relating to valuable information in business management, sales, estimating and even preparation for ASBA’s certification exams.

Want a quick Reader’s Digest view of what you missed? Here it is. Note: Many of these topics will also be turned into technical articles for the magazines for which ASBA supplies material throughout the year.

Fields: Alternative Infill Options – Adam Coleman, US Greentech

One of the topics that is gaining a lot of interest is that of alternative infills for synthetic fields. Adam Coleman’s presentation included a quick background on the history of synthetic turf infill, and then moved into a discussion of the options available on the market today. These include the following.

  • Green-Coated SBR Crumb Rubber: This is a system that uses crumb rubber infill; that infill is simply encapsulated in colorants, sealers or anti-microbial substances.

  • Cork Top-Dressing Combined with other Materials: In these systems, natural fiber is used to replace the layer of crumb rubber used in most fields. It is combined with other materials as well.

  • Quartz Products: This product uses a rounded quartz core that is then coated with a polymer.

  • Organic (Cork-Based) Systems: These systems are made of 100% cork which is derived directly from cork trees.

  • Recycled Material Combinations: This system uses an extruded composite of recycled turf and thermoplastic elastomer (TPE).

  • Organic (Fiber-Based): This is a field that includes infill primarily made out of coconut husks, peat and rice husks.

  • TPE: (Thermoplastic Elastomer): TPEs are elastomers with both thermoplastic and elastomeric properties.

Many systems are proprietary and some are used mainly in non-athletic installations (dog parks, etc.) More can expect to be developed as well.

The crumb rubber controversy shows no sign of dying down, and as more fields come to the end of their useful lives, contractors will need to be familiar with the options on the market – which is expected to expand.

Tennis: Fencing – Todd Dettor, Tennclosure Fence Systems; Kevin Healion, CTCB, Century Tennis; William Seymour, PE, Gale Associates

This session took an in-depth look at tennis court fencing. It paid attention to traditional chain-link fencing and to the aesthetics of fencing a court using this fabric, as well as to ways chain-link fences could be used in different climates.

However, all-around chain-link is, for many, not a desirable option. For that reason, alternative designs, such as courts with lowered fence heights on the court sides and with cuts to the corners, save on costs (since less fence fabric is used), create a more open feel and allow for good sightlines of games in progress.

Because many owners are interested in a different aesthetic, however, other types of fencing were also illustrated. These included the following:

Wood fencing (which can be used in a traditional style (lattice, etc.) or in conjunction with chain link or various types of mesh or netting as fabric which, when used together with landscaping, such as with flowering or climbing plants, can create almost a garden-like setting which players find appealing.

Synthetic fences that mimic the look of wood, but do not require the same level of maintenance, are also making an appearance.

Stone walls surrounding courts were also shown as a design option; while these do not serve exactly the same purpose as fencing, they do create an interesting aesthetic that can reflect surrounding architecture.

A new option on the market is a fence system that includes fixed posts with fence fabric that can be unfastened and folded out of sight (such as for times when high winds are expected, or when court maintenance needs to be done.) This system also serves as windscreen and can cut glare on courts.

While chain-link will continue to be popular in many municipal installations, the market is growing for non-traditional fencing options. As clubs, residences and others look to create a new aesthetic and attract players, expect to see the new fencing choices become even more popular.

Track: Off-Site Trip to Local Track: Layout, Hands-On Instruction, Measuring Planarity – Geoff Daley, CTB, Beynon Sports Surfaces; Kristoff Eldridge, CTB, Cape & Island Tennis & Track; Troy Rudolph, CTB, CFB, CTCB, Elite Sports Builders

Easily one of the most popular and innovative sessions of the Technical Meeting, this program found two tour buses full of participants making the trip from the Fairmont Princess to local Notre Dame Preparatory High School’s new Bemis Field.
The facility includes a multi-use synthetic field as well as a 400-meter track, with LED lighting, bleachers, press box and a host of other amenities. The facility, which opened for play in fall of 2015, was the source of admiration of all those who attended.

Presenters Geoff Daley, Kristoff Eldridge and Troy Rudolph allowed participants to roam around the facility and take in the sights before regrouping and opening discussions. Surface planarity testing equipment was available to use on the track surface (kudos to Troy Rudolph for putting his facility up for scrutiny from so many people who know their stuff!)

After testing had concluded, Rudolph answered questions on the project; as things often occur, the Q&A session changed to a discussion of various aspects of track construction and line striping, with a variety of members offering their experiences and insights.
The session met with unanimous approval, and it was suggested that various divisions begin looking into offering such programs at future Technical Meetings.

General: Drones (Before/After Videos) – Todd Dettor, Fast-Dry Courts, Inc. & 10-S Supply; Gordy Pierce, CTCB, Cape & Island Tennis & Track

The popularity of drones (also known as unmanned aerial vehicles or UAVs) over the past few years has been dramatic. As drones continue to become more readily available, their usage in the business arena has increased.

In this session, Todd Dettor and Gordy Pierce discussed their personal experience with drone use and showed videos. Drones have been useful in almost all aspects of sports facility construction: getting an overview of the land prior to any design and construction work, keeping a record of construction throughout a project, having finished photos of the project for marketing purposes – and even being able to show instructional videos, such as those on soft court maintenance.

Dettor and Pierce described the various types of drones on the market, as well as the difference between models available at different price points. They also discussed common mistakes made by beginner drone operators (for example, losing sight of the UAV is not recommended, since the battery life on the device is fairly short; once the drone senses a low battery, it will make a beeline back toward the operator – and if the operator can’t see to pilot the drone away from trees, power lines, buildings, etc., the results of the return trip can be disastrous, not to mention costly.)

Various control methods for drones were illustrated, as were photos and videos taken from UAVs for various purposes. (Note: Less than a decade ago, many photos submitted for ASBA’s awards programs included overhead shots taken by photographers who were shooting from planes or helicopters; these days, most aerial photos are taken via drone.)

Discussion ensued regarding the FAA’s new drone registration law, and whether ultimately a special ‘drone zone’ airspace would be set up for UAVs, since they fly lower than commercial aircraft. As the market continues to expand, the issues regarding drone use and regulation will likewise continue to evolve.

The moral of the story: If you don’t come to meetings, you’ll never know what you’re missing – and often, the most valuable learning experiences take place at unexpected times and in unconventional ways. The Technical Meeting has a long history of helping industry members learn, make contacts and develop new friendships and relationships. The Scottsdale meeting was no exception to this rule.

© 2016 American Sports Builders Association 

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