News from the American Sports Builders Association                                                        January 2017

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Technical Meeting 2016: A Wealth of Information

If you happened to miss the Technical Meeting in Amelia Island, Florida, you missed perhaps the best learning opportunity of the season. Here’s a sampling of some of the presentations, which covered a variety of industry topics, from tennis courts to running tracks to sports fields to indoor facilities to business topics – and a whole lot more.

Most sessions were filled and many had attendees standing in the back, listening and taking notes. The good news: All presentations are available on ASBA’s website, Simply go to the top tab that says Industry Events and select the second option from the bottom, “Technical Meeting Presentations.” All information can be accessed free of charge.

“Advances in Hybrid Turf Systems,” by Mark Heinlein, Director, Research & New Product Development, The Motz Corporation

This session discussed the relatively new concept of hybrid turf, which is a combination of natural grass and synthetic elements. These generally fall into three categories:
Reinforced Turf: in which synthetic fibers are mixed with the rootzone material (either onsite or in situ); the fibers stabilize the soil and help secure the roots of the grass during the growth process.

Stabilized Turf: These systems include a synthetic mat, infilled with sand to the tops of the fibers. In this system, the plant’s crown grows protected within the mat, so that the synthetic fibers do not extend into the canopy and athletes play on a surface that is 100% natural grass. It was noted this surface provides immediate playability, as well as easy replacement/rotation.

Hybrid Turf: In these systems, upright synthetic fibers extend above the growing medium and fibers reside within the grass canopy. There are two types of hybrid turf: permanent systems and mat systems.

For attendees’ reference, some sample brand names were provided for each category of system.

In addition, Heinlein discussed maintenance and renovation of each system, and the relative merits and drawbacks when it came to field care and replacement. He also fielded questions from audience members and invited future discussion after the session.

“Court Building Techniques Based on Geography and Region,” by Richard Zaino, CTCB, Zaino Tennis Courts Inc.; David Moore, CTCB, Cape & Island Tennis & Track; and David LaSota, PE, The Tennis Design Studio

This session began with an overview of basic material components used in tennis courts as well as soils and soil types. A map of the United States, divided by the same 17 Sections as those defined by USTA (New England, Eastern, Middle States, etc.) allowed the presenters to provide their observations for court construction in various areas, including typical problems in those regions.

In Northern areas, for example, iron impurities could cause discoloration on the court in a relatively short period. In addition, fence posts had to be driven further into the ground because of a deeper freeze line. In the Intermountain and Southwest areas, high-altitude directions had to be followed when mixing acrylics, and vapor barriers needed to be installed for concrete courts. In Hawaii, the presence of poor aggregate was noted, as was a move toward rolled rubber products when constructing courts.

The session engendered audience participation as builders from around the country offered up their observations and insights into regional construction techniques. The session, while set up as a panel discussion, became the equivalent of a large-scale roundtable with contractors contributing their experience. Afterward, many participants lingered, seeking out others with similar experience and sharing ideas on solutions to common problems.

“Re-Introduction to OSHA: What’ New? Are You Covered?” by Wayne Duncan, Safety by Design

In this session, Wayne Duncan, a consultant on OSHA matters, provided a general overview of OSHA and then drilled into new laws, regulations and procedures those in the industry needed to be aware of.

Among the most concerning to attendees was the imposition of higher fines. “For the small company,” Duncan noted, “this is very serious. “One violation can result in a fine that can put you out of business.” Fines incurred as a result of repeat violations would certainly damage the bottom lines of event the largest of companies.

Duncan covered two key points: prevention of falls and protection of electrocution, citing both as examples of items OSHA is concerned about (and by extension, about which business owners and managers should be concerned.) He noted that it is difficult to balance the necessity of keeping the project on schedule with keeping employees safe.

A Recordable Event, by OSHA’s definition, results in any of the following: death, days away from work, restricted work or transfer to another job, medical treatment beyond first aid, or loss of consciousness. OSHA also notes that a business must consider a case to meet the general recording criteria if it involves a significant injury or illness diagnosed by a physician or other licensed health care professional, even if it does not result in death, days away from work, restricted work or job transfer, medical treatment beyond first aid, or loss of consciousness.

Duncan created several examples of on-the-job accidents and asked those in attendance to help decide whether or not they were recordable, and whether or not they would be classified in various ways. In many cases, attendees guessed wrong – something Duncan noted was not out of the ordinary. He also covered drug testing (and discussed ways employers could implement it fairly.) He used his sense of humor (referencing a 1D10T form) as well as calling upon audience members and asking for their input on various scenarios.

The session, while likely alarming to those who were new to supervisory jobs, was a useful combination of factual information, reference material and background – as well as enough of an update on new issues to keep business owners aware of the importance of staying on top of new developments.

“Design Considerations for Indoor Competition Tracks,” P. Duffy Mahoney, Chief of Sport Performance, USA Track & Field

Duffy Mahoney, a longtime presenter at ASBA meetings, opened his presentation by asking attendees a series of questions, all pertaining to a hypothetical facility. He then expanded upon each to show how these answers would influence the design of that building:

  • How big is the box? This pertained to the building as a whole. Was there a definite footprint or was there room to expand?

  • Is the facility for track & field only, or would other sports be hosted in the venue? Since clearances for various sports would need to be taken into consideration, a multi-sport facility required more room and more considerations regarding the requirements set forth by national governing bodies.

  • How big is the track? Depending upon the facility (community, high school, collegiate, etc.), tracks of different sizes are necessary, as are numbers of lanes.

  • How big are the stands? If the facility is to hold spectators as well, there must be adequate considerations for space (as well as for entry and exit ways)

  • What types of events will be hosted? Will this be for practice, for competition, for rental use, etc.? Who will the end user groups be?

  • Will there be a warm-up area for athletes? If so, where should it be located and how large should it be?

  • Will there be ancillary space, such as meeting rooms, press boxes, suites for donors and sponsors, rooms for officials, locker rooms, showers, classrooms, training areas, etc.? What about storage areas for athletic equipment? (In this case, it is essential to revisit the question of which sports will be hosted, since more equipment will necessitate a larger storage space.)

Mahoney cited real-life examples of current facilities, and also brought up scenarios attendees might not have considered such as space for media and meet operations – all of which contributed to the size, design and configuration of a finished project. Because of his familiarity with members of the Association and their projects, he was able to address attendees by name and ask for direct input.

The session was so popular that it was repeated during the meeting.

“LED Court Lighting,” Bruce Frasure, Courtsider Sports Lighting; Linn Lower, CTCB, Lower Bros. Co., Inc.

Frasure, who introduced the session, noted that LED lighting was one of the fastest-growing technological shifts in human history, outpacing the installation and implementation of solar power, wind power and hybrid/electric vehicles.

The efficacy of LED is superior, as is the price projection (and as LED continues to become more widespread, it continues to come down in price.) Other reasons for LED use include increased efficiency, reduced energy consumption, longer lifespan, instant illumination at full power when switched on, controllable for dimming, low maintenance, little if any depreciation over time and – very important when it comes to sports facilities – excellent directional accuracy, leading to fewer complaints about light trespass.

Lower and Frasure also discussed the specs for LED fixtures, as well as information on light distribution. They also compared metal halide lighting to LED in terms of optics and lumen depreciation, and noted that LED is far superior in both respects.

In addition, both presenters discussed the rapidly expanding market (which has led to inferior products being manufactured overseas in China; they advised attendees to check all brand names against the Design Lights Consortium (DLC), which is dedicated to accelerating the widespread adoption of high-performing, energy-efficient commercial lighting solutions. (Images of inferior product lamps were shown as part of the presentation.)

Many installations using LED are eligible for rebates at the state and federal level; information on this can be found at, which is a comprehensive source on incentives and policies that support renewables and energy efficiency in the United States. DSIRE is operated by the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center at NC State University and is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Perhaps one of the most visually appealing aspects of the presentation was a drone view of courts lighted by metal halide fixtures, vs. lighted by LED. Other shots showed excellent visibility at night, in some cases despite the presence of ambient light from other sources.

“Analyzing Existing Asphalt for New Surface Applications,” Craig Honkomp PE, PS, LEED AP, Sportsworks Field Design, Eric Q. Roise, ASLA, MCPPO, Athletic & Recreation Design Studio

The presenters opened their discussion with examples of problems in asphalt, including visible issues (structural and drainage problems, as well as aesthetic problems) and those that could not be sees (problems in base construction, under-drainage, etc.)

Other contributors to problems with asphalt were weather considerations (freeze/thaw cycles, for example), age of the overall facility and region of the project.

There was a discussion of various types of cracking and an analysis of what various types of cracking meant; after all, it was noted, a crack is a symptom of a problem, not the problem itself. Drainage issues, such as bird baths, delamination, fat spots and more, were also noted as a symptom of underlying problems.

The problems of a track, the presenters stated, were only able to be solved through an approach that involved not just repair or reconstruction but an approach that brought together facility owners, original contractors, user groups, maintenance staff and more. While there can be faulty construction, there can also be incorrect or unadvisable use of the facility, lack of sufficient supervision of facility users, lack of understanding of the job of the maintenance crew – and much more.

Various approaches were also discussed including saw-cutting (this engendered much discussion among those in attendance) and more. Weather considerations, which always play an important role in the aging process of a track facility, were also noted as a prime reason to stay on top of maintenance.

“Roundtable: Soft Courts Lifts, Pickleball Overview, Perimeter Edging,” David Baird, CTCB, Industrial Surface Sealer, Inc.; Bill Shaughnessey, CTCB, The Racquet Shop, Inc.
Without a doubt, one of the most anticipated sessions – and one of the most heavily attended – was this one, which included a pickleball focus. And from the comments and questions (most pertaining to pickleball), this is a topic that is going to continue to gain momentum. (There was some discussion of Pop Tennis; however, it was clear that attendees were being affected more by pickleball, with many already having built or marked facilities for that sport.)

Among the topics discussed were the net heights for pickleball (many players like the bottom edge of the net raised off the court so that the ball can be kicked or scooted under to other players when the serve changes) as well as various ways to establish sound-breaks and other noise-alleviating measures; it was noted the sound of the ball on the paddles is often bothersome to those who do not play – or those who are trying to play sports (including tennis or volleyball) on adjacent courts. (One product mentioned was the Acousti-Fence, which can aid in noise reduction.

Various types of court surface were mentioned with regard to pickleball; although it is commonly played on a hard surface, cushioned surfaces are also being used, since the age group for pickleball is generally 50 and up.

Another point of discussion was the presence of pickleball lines on existing tennis courts. Presently, the USTA allows only tennis lines to be painted on courts where sanctioned competition can be held, including the standard lines as well as those for children’s tennis (36-foot and 60-foot courts). However, pickleball is increasing in popularity, and many pickleball players in parks and community facilities, as well as clubs, are demanding lines be painted for their sport as well. (The number of pickleball-specific facilities is on the rise as well. Although these could once be found only in the sunbelt, they are spreading across the U.S., including the mid-Atlantic and Northeast, as well as further north.

ASBA is currently in the process of completing its first pickleball manual; more information on this will be available as it moves closer to publication.

© 2017 American Sports Builders Association 

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