A school board in Middletown, Delaware County, Pennsylvania, are weighing the pros and cons of installing synthetic turf in one of their school's sports field. And synthetic turf seems to be in the lead. The school board will vote this week on whether to move forward with the $1.5 million project.
Because of the field's drainage issues, they are considering synthetic turf. Installing synthetic turf would increase the usability of the field, which with the current natural grass surface can only support 40 events per year. Synthetic turf would support 400, ten times that of natural turf. This increased usability would allow all of the clubs and sports teams to have access to the field and increase student morale.
The investment of a natural turf upgrade would be less initially but over ten years the cost to maintain would be $595,000. Synthetic turf, on the other hand, would cost $1.57 million but would allow the field to be leased out to interested groups, generating income for the entire district, and wouldn't require any maintenance.
Some pointed out in the school board meeting that no matter what materials is installed in the fields the tendency is to let groups use the fields for free, which costs are deducted from taxpayer money....
For many high schools, installing synthetic turf gives their teams a competitive edge. The synthetic turf surface allows them to practice on the field 365 days a year, no matter the weather conditions, and habituates them to playing on a surface material that is quickly becoming the standard material in high school sports. However, installing the synthetic turf in the field can be prohibitively expensive for many high schools.
A high school in Belleville, IL, has taken a novel approach to raising the necessary funds to pay for their new synthetic turf field. The high school has sold ad space on the surface of the field itself to local companies. The field currently has 20 ads displayed in panels in the synthetic turf itself, including a local Chick-Fil-A. Additional funding for the synthetic turf field came from clubs and donations.
The ad panels are currently sold for five-year periods, and when the companies want to remove the ads, all the high school has to do is cut out the turf with the ad display on it and replace it with a synthetic turf that matches the color of the rest of the field, or replace it with a new ad-paneled synthetic turf.
It's a proven effective option of raising money to pay for synthetic turf fields that you may want to propose at your next school board meeting....
A whopping twelve synthetic turf fields will be brought to a sports facility, Kent County Regional Sports Complex, in Kent County, Delaware. The entire project will cost $24 million dollars, but the complex is projected to bring in $24 million of revenue to the local community every year once the synthetic turf complex is open to the public.
Specifically, the organizers hope for the synthetic turf field complex to act as a general activity space for sports and non-sports activities alike. By hosting important sports tournaments as well as festivals and music and entertainment alongside, they expect the complex to attract visitors from out of state who will deposit money into the local economy by staying at hotels and eating at local restaurants for days at a time.
Furthermore, the organizers say that maintaining the synthetic turf fields will cost only one-fourth of what it would cost if natural grass were installed in the fields and that playability will be relatively doubled.
The organizers got the idea from a similar synthetic turf complex in Maryland that has been a large source of revenue for the surrounding community and that revenue generation has been increasing by 5% every year. They hope to have the same results with their own synthetic turf complex in Kent County....
The controversy around crumb rubber infill continues as a new in-depth piece in the USA Today was published today surveying the political dispute occurring between school synthetic turf sports field superintendents, environmental agencies, and consumer protection agencies.
On the one hand, the Consumer Product Safety commission is being criticized for publishing a headline in 2008 proclaiming that synthetic turf with crumb rubber infills was "OK to install, OK to play on," despite the fact that the tests they had conducted were not conclusive.
Furthermore, the Environmental Protection Agency has historically supported the use of crumb rubber infills in synthetic turf fieldsd in their effort to recycle old car tires. Due to recent political pressure, they have stated that the safety of such rubbers is not conclusive.
And on the other hand, schools are reticent to allow their turf fields to be tested for fear of negative publicity and having to pay to have their turf fields replaced, which costs more than $1 million, if the tests prove that the fields are harmful to children.
And on still another hand, the Synthetic Turf Council have touted the obvious benefits of synthetic turf, reduced maintenance costs and water savings, etc.
It seems that the debate around synthetic turf crumb rubber infill will just have to continue until conclusive tests have been completed....