February 17, 2005
New Synthetic Turf to Save Taxpayers Money On Mecklenburg County Athletic Fields
Charlotte -- Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation will take proposals February 22, 2005 for our first synthetic surface athletic field. The proposals will be for a soccer/football field at Revolution Park, with the possibility of more synthetic fields being added later. The aim is to have this first synthetic field ready for play by late summer.
The surface the parks department plans to use is a new generation synthetic turf, very different from earlier artificial grass used on professional playing fields. This new synthetic turf is:
• softer and more resilient, spongy to the touch
• a more consistent, less abrasive surface
• not laid over asphalt, but over gravel
• composed of soft synthetic blades, generally about 2 to 2 ½ inches high, filled-in with a soft layer of fine, granular rubber and sand
• less likely to cause serious injury, according to a study by the American Journal of Sports Medicine.
Samples of this new synthetic turf are available for inspection at the Park and Recreation Department. Reporters are invited to feel it, run fingers through it, photograph it, even wiggle toes in it. We think it feels like thick grass turf.
Park officials expect a typical soccer field of this new synthetic turf to cost $450-thousand to $600-thousand. But this turf doesn't have to be cut, fertilized, trimmed, aerated, reseeded, sprayed for weeds, or painted often for field markings. A field of synthetic turf can conserve 800-thousand gallons of water each year, compared to natural grass. It is environmentally friendly because it saves gasoline and oil, prevents air pollution from mechanical equipment, and eliminates fertilizer runoff.
While synthetic fields cost more than grass to install, park officials estimate they will pay for themselves in savings in seven years. New synthetic turf products are made by several manufacturers. Such material was recently used to resurface a practice field for the Carolina Panthers.
These new synthetic fields are also expected to be playable at all times of day, all times of year. They can sustain more play and increase department revenue. There is no down time for major grass rehabilitation. Synthetic turf accommodates more recreational use on play fields under strong demand.