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SportsTurf Magazine
Updated: 11 min 31 sec ago

Buffalo MiLB park again to host golf

2 hours 50 min ago

Coca-Cola Field will again be turned into a golf course, of sorts, with the return of the “The Links at Coca-Cola Field,” from Sept. 15 through Sept. 17.

The nine-hole, par-27 course is a unique experience where golfers will take swings from eight tee boxes located around the ballpark, including home plate and the right-field party deck. This year’s updated course includes three club-level shots as well as different pin placements. The course includes a one-hole putting challenge in the Bisons’ indoor batting cages.

Each hole will feature a theme, including “extras” such as crowd noise or unfavorable weather conditions. A new theme, the “double down” hole, will dare golfers to bet on themselves, allowing good shots to be scored better (pars as birdies and birdies as aces) but bad shots will be turned worse (bogeys become double bogeys and doubles become triples).

Putting Hole No. 8 will be the “Disco Ball” hole where golfers will hit neon balls through a green illuminated only by disco lights.

Mulligans can be purchased before the round, allowing a second chance at any hole, with the exception of the “Double Down” hole. Each mulligan costs $5, with a maximum of two per golfer, with proceeds going to the Buffalo Bisons Charitable Foundation.

A round of golf at The Links at Coca-Cola Field will cost $55 per golfer and include a special Links at Coca-Cola Field golf towel and cap, a logo OnCore golf ball, a post-round beverage, parking and two Bisons 2018 Opening Day tickets. A premium package, which will also include a limited edition Links at Coca-Cola Field shoe bag, is $85 per golfer.

Tee times are available online at LinksAtCocaColaField.com and at Bisons.com. Times available are from 6-10 p.m. Sept. 15; 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and 3-7 p.m. on Sept. 16; and 8 a.m. to noon on Sept. 17.

The course:

No. 1: Stepping to the Tee (Par 3, 80 yards): Golfers’ names and hometowns will be announced to the gallery.

No. 2: BuffaLove (Par 3, 65 yards): Take your swing wearing either a football, hockey or baseball helmet.

No. 3: Caddyshack (Par 3, 135 yards): Enjoy a craft beer sample from Resurgence Brewing.

No. 4: NOONAN!!! (Par 3, 100 yards): Test your concentration with a little extra crowd noise.

No. 5: A Toast to the King (Par 3, 72 yards): Mix your own “Arnold Palmer” in honor of one of the greatest golfers that ever lived.

No. 6: The “Double Down” (Par 3, 124 yards): Option to bet on yourself. Hole will be scored Birdie 1, Par 2, Bogey 5, Double Bogey 6.

No. 7: Not Coming Down for Quite Some Time (Par 3, 103 yards): A little extra ‘weather’ added for this tee shot.

No. 8: A Disco Ball (Par 3, 19 feet): Using a Happy Gilmore-esque hockey stick putter, put a neon golf ball in a hole lit only by disco lights.

No. 9: The Cinderella Boy (Par 3, 81 yards): Line up this last shot and knock it in. Hole-in-one wins a $250 Bisons gift card.- by Amy Moritz, The Buffalo News (New York)

Categories: test feeds

Notre Dame Stadium gets new look

2 hours 50 min ago

From inside it looks utterly familiar, but also strangely dreamlike.

Three tall buildings loom beyond the walls of Notre Dame Stadium. The classic bowl itself looks much as it has in recent years, minus the traditional redwood benches.

Those wooden benches have all been replaced with steel benches covered in blue vinyl.

There’s premium seating, a 96-by-54 foot video screen on the south wall, ribbon video boards, enhanced Wi-Fi service, a new narrow tunnel for the visiting team and living “green” roofs.

This is not your grandfather’s Notre Dame Stadium.

That much was evident Friday during a tour for news media of the $400 million Campus Crossroads project that added three buildings to the exterior of the 87-year-old football stadium, as well as premium fan seating atop those buildings.

And the university plans to host other events — such as concerts and professional sports teams — in the stadium, and will make the hospitality spaces available for lease for large functions. Notre Dame Stadium and its adjacent buildings won’t be a community focus just six or seven weekends a year.

Beside the switch to steel benches, the chair-back gold seats near the field have been replaced with new navy blue ones. The flagpole, long at the northeast corner of the field, now stands at the southeast corner. A small tunnel for the visiting team to enter and exit the field is in that northeast corner, with the large north tunnel now reserved only for use by the Fighting Irish.

The Notre Dame Marching Band will no longer be seated in the northeast corner. The 400 band members will sit in the stands in the north end zone, next to the regular student section.

The wood from the old benches has been reclaimed for decorative uses in the concourses and in the three new buildings.

Although not evident to the naked eye, the cramped bench seating in the lower bowl has been renumbered, adding an average width of two inches of space for each fan, according to university officials. Fans will have to judge that new spaciousness for themselves when the 2017 season opens on Sept. 2.

Prior to this project, Notre Dame Stadium’s official capacity was 80,795.

About 3,000 premium seats have been added. But with all field seats removed and lower bowl seats widened, the overall seating capacity will decrease to between 78,000 and 79,000 seats. The university hasn’t yet announced the new official seating capacity.

The old scoreboard on the north end of the stadium has been removed to provide a better view of the “Touchdown Jesus” mural on the front of Hesburgh Library. Ribbon video boards have been installed along the east and west sides inside the stadium.

In the north tunnel, new banners have been hung representing each of Notre Dame’s 11 national championship football titles. And words from a famous pep speech by legendary Irish coach Knute Rockne are now on display in that tunnel. (It’s the speech that includes the lines: “We’re gonna get ’em on the run. We’re going to go! Go! Go!”)

There’s a “Play Like a Champion Today” sign for students to slap as they enter the student section, a reproduction of the famous sign in the Fighting Irish locker room.

New stadium lights and a new press box (on the east side of the stadium) were in use for the 2016 season.

For fan safety, hand railings have been added in the aisles in the lower bowl. And some of those railings include decorative panels that conceal Wi-Fi antennas. Wi-Fi service is now available throughout the stadium and a new dedicated cellular network will provide significantly improved cell service in the facility, university officials said.

The concourses include new art deco-style light figures, brick-faced columns and 150 large-screen TVs. Images of classic Notre Dame football game program covers mark each seating section and reproductions of vintage game tickets add more artistic flair.

There are two levels of premium seating.

The loge level has semi-private seating areas with rolling back chairs, tables and personal tablets for every two seats. That outdoor seating include access to an indoor club space, food and beverages, in-seat wait service, reserved parking and other amenities. All loge seats are now sold out, according to Notre Dame.

Club level seats offer outdoor seating with a heated overhang, cushioned seats, access to an indoor club space, and food and beverages. More than 98 percent of club seating is now sold, with just a few dozen seats remaining, said John Heisler, a senior associate athletics director. (For more information about premium seating, call 574-631-3500.)

Some of the premium seats have access to adjacent terraces with additional seating and panoramic views of the football field and the campus. The club seating on the west side of the stadium allows patrons access to a 500-seat ballroom inside the new student center. Except for football games, the ballroom will be used mainly for student dances and other activities, and will be available for lease for private events.

There are four corporate box suites on the stadium’s west side that are leased out for individual games.

The Campus Crossroads project includes three new buildings: nine-story Duncan Student Center, a study, fitness, career counseling and student activities building on the west side of the stadium; nine-story Corbett Family Hall, an anthropology, psychology and digital media building on the east side; and O’Neill Hall, a six-story music building on the south side.

The top three floors of Duncan Student Center will open in September, with the lower floors (featuring the student center, fitness facility, career counseling and three restaurants) slated to open in January 2018.

The new two-story student/employee fitness center in Duncan will triple the space currently available in Rolfs Sports Recreation Center. Rolfs will be converted to a practice facility for the Notre Dame men’s and women’s basketball teams, and wooden basketball floors will be added in the north dome of the Joyce Center to provide additional space for basketball practice.

The media center and anthropology department will move into Corbett by January, with the psychology department scheduled to move in next summer. The music building is scheduled to be fully occupied by January.

O’Neill Hall, the south building, will house a private club/lounge on its fourth floor. It’s called the South Club, and it will include Harper’s Bar (named after Jesse Harper, Notre Dame football coach from 1913 to 1917). The club will be available for lease for private events at other times.

The three buildings have “green” roofs: 43,000 square feet of roof space covered with living plants as a commitment to sustainability. LEED Silver certification will be sought for all three buildings.

Duncan and Corbett, at 137 feet in height, now hold the distinction of a tie for fourth tallest structures on campus. (Tallest is the spire of Sacred Heart Basilica, at 230 feet, followed by Hesburgh Library, 210 feet, then the top of the Golden Dome on the Main Building, 187 feet.)

A driving ramp leading underground has been built southwest of the stadium complex. That drive leads to underground loading docks and a commercial kitchen/catering service for the three buildings and the stadium.

To run the new buildings on football weekends and through the year, Notre Dame is adding more than 60 full-time positions and about 765 part-time or on-call seasonal jobs.

Construction work continues in the three Campus Crossroads buildings. University officials say the football stadium itself will be ready when fans arrive for the Sept. 2 first home game, which features the Fighting Irish vs. the Temple Owls.- by Margaret Fosmoe, South Bend Tribune (Indiana)

Categories: test feeds

Sports complex leverages cooperative

2 hours 52 min ago

The O’Fallon Family Sports Park has scored big time with a cooperative purchasing agreement that has delivered seven new soccer fields in less than 90 days while saving $1 million. Rather than put the project out to bid, the city tapped the National Joint Power Alliance (NJPA) to complete all of its product and service purchasing. The turnkey project for the artificial turf field was procured through NJPA vendor Shaw Sports Turf; St. Louis-based Byrne & Jones Sports performed the work transforming the sports complex’s natural turf fields to synthetic turf.

Cooperative purchase agreements allow cities, schools and governmental entities to more efficiently procure products and services through vendors that have been thoroughly vetted and priced by a cooperative purchasing entity.  The purchasing consortium becomes the lead agency in bidding and awarding contracts for its members who can select turnkey contracts that have already been competitively bid.  It saves time and money because there is one procurement process rather than many.

Staples, MN-based NJPA leverages the national purchasing power of more than 50,000 member agencies while also streamlining the required purchasing process.  In the case of O’Fallon, it established a guaranteed maximum price of $4.5 million for the seven new fields, including installation. The city originally projected the cost to be $5.5 million to put the bid out themselves, including the product and warranty, engineering and the certified builder to perform site preparation and installation.

“We wanted to ensure taxpayer money on the sports complex renovations was spent wisely,” said Mary Jeanne Hutchison, director of O’Fallon Parks and Recreation. “NJPA gave us a complete package that had been thoroughly researched and priced.  In the end, we got the product we wanted for the right price and were able to streamline the construction process to get all seven fields built in 89 calendar days.” The renovation work is funded by the local hotel and motel tax.

Hutchison said the process entailed going to NJPA’s bid board to find the right synthetic soccer turf and installation package. “The quality of the turf is only going to be as good as the subsurface conditions.  That requires a certified builder proficient in site preparation including amending soil conditions and improving drainage.  All of that was built into our Shaw Sports Turf package,” noted Hutchison.   Byrne & Jones managed all project specifications including site preparation, grading, drainage and turf installation.

The new fields are part of renovations to the O’Fallon Family Sports Park that include new restrooms and parking lot improvements to accommodate 700 vehicles.  The new fields will be used for soccer, lacrosse, and other activities. “We start team practice and league play in August and the first of five tournaments are scheduled starting in September,” said Hutchison.  “The cooperative purchasing process has allowed us no loss of field time.”

“The Shaw Sports Turf package met all the standards that schools and public entities should look for in the purchasing of synthetic turf system, including price, durability, longevity, safety and playability,” said Jameson Sheley, general manager, Byrne & Jones Sports.

As budgets become tighter, more schools and public entities are turning to cooperative purchases to save costs and streamline construction.  Sheley noted that it can be a challenge to find the right building partner for athletic surfaces.  “Cooperative purchasing agreements have made easier for public entities because they’ve thoroughly vetted the product and installation specifications that must be followed in the bid package,” noted Sheley.  Byrne & Jones has installed more than one thousand sports surfaces, including tracks and synthetic turf fields.

www.byrneandjones.com.

Categories: test feeds

U of Tennessee Field Day September 7

2 hours 52 min ago

The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture will present the 2017 Turf and Ornamental Field Day on September 7 at the UT’s East Tennessee AgResearch and Education, and big crowds are expected for this popular professional educational event. Previous turf and ornamental field days have attracted more than 500 participants.
Designed to address topics primarily of interest to turf and landscape management professionals, faculty supporting the Turf and Ornamental Field Day will present short seminars on topics including:

* Weed Control for Turf and Ornamentals

* Fungicide Management

* Non-chemical Ryegrass Transitioning

* Integrated Pest Management Resources

* Keeping High-use Sports Fields Safe

* Establishing Hybrid Bermudagrass

* Mower Configuration

* Ornamental and Turf Disease Management and Insect Pests

 ​
An additional presentation will update attendees regarding the activities of the Center for Athletic Field Safety.

Several continuing education options will be available to guests. Attendees will be able to receive as many as five pesticide recertification credits in Tennessee categories C1, C3, C6, C10, and C12; and credits will be available for attendees from Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, and South Carolina as well.  International Society of Arboriculture credits will be provided and the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America​ will be offering 0.45 continuing education credits to members who attend.
Discounted preregistration is available online via credit card at a cost of $65 at tiny.utk.edu/TurfFieldDay. On-site registration will also be available on the day of the event, but for a higher fee. All patrons will receive a breakfast and BBQ lunch thanks to generous support from numerous industry sponsors.

ag.tennessee.edu.

Categories: test feeds

How hot is the turf canopy during the day?

August 15, 2017

Every sports fan has watched a sideline reporter on an artificial turf field during a hot game. The reporter usually has a big round thermometer to measure the air temperature above the field and is amazed by the high temperature reading. Some even carry a hand-held infrared thermometer to measure the temperature of the artificial turf. On a hot and sunny day, that temperature may exceed 140°F. So, how hot does a real grass area (field, green, lawn) get during the afternoon? The Turf-Vu Hawkeye system is helping understand this question.

How close is the surface temperature of natural grass to the air temperature?

It’s been pretty close when the grass is not wilting. This year the canopy temperature has been within 1°F of the air temperature for June, July, and early August. On very sunny afternoons, it was closer to 1°F above, but the two had similar temperatures when it was cloudy in the afternoon. If the air temperature was 105°F then the canopy temperature was around 105°F. These observations occurred on an exposed creeping bentgrass green. Less than ideal growing environments can be quite different, especially with respect to air movement.

What effect did air movement have on surface temperatures?

Airflow had a large impact on surface temperature. Turf areas with limited airflow were warmer than highly exposed areas. For example, our research green from 2017 is elevated with great air movement. The green we used last season was at the same grade as the surrounding turf. That green was several degrees warmer than the air temperature. Add trees, shrubs, structures, or hills around a turf stand and expect even more heat to accumulate.

These observations continue to support good pruning and the use of fans to cool turf in the summer. Without air movement, high humidity settles over the turf and reduces evaporative cooling. We have all experienced this on a hot day. Your body would rather be in the wind on a hot and humid day than a stagnant and humid environment.

How does mowing height affect surface temperature and cooling?

While we’ve only extensively studied greens height turf, we have looked at the surrounding fairway height creeping bentgrass and lawn height tall fescue areas. Generally, the lawn height turf was a few degrees cooler than the fairway turf, which was a few degrees cooler than greens height turf. On cloudy afternoons, the different areas are all the same temperature.

Does the turf heat up as soil moisture is reduced?

If wilt is not visible, then our research suggests the answer is no. That is relative to both the ambient air temperature and the surface temperature of well-watered turf (near field capacity). Evaporative cooling is remarkably efficient and controlled by the plant. The only time we measured a big increase in surface temperature was when the turf began to wilt.

On our sand-based research green, the Turf-Vu Hawkeye system takes a visual and thermal image every ten minutes. The average temperature of each irrigation treatment was recorded from the thermal image. Hue, the numeric representation of color appearance, was also logged from within the visual image. We looked at the difference in hue and surface temperature of the plots at field capacity and the plots that were never watered this summer. There were no major differences between those two irrigation treatments from mid-June until July 21. During that time, the soil moisture content of the non- irrigation treatment was greater than 8% VWC. The well-watered treatment ranged from 15-20% VWC.

On, when afternoon air temperature averaged 102°F, the soil water content of the non- irrigated plots dropped below 8% and wilt occurred. The hue difference and surface temperature differences spiked. That spike continued to intensify as the plots continued to dry-down. On surface temperature of the non-irrigated plots averaged 14°F greater than the surface temperature of the well-watered turf (which was similar to the air temperature at 99°F). That means the non- irrigated treatments had an average surface temperature of a lethal 113°F from 1-4pm.

Our continued research with the Hawkeye system is revealing a lot of great information about how soil water content, irrigation management, and air movement impact turf temperature and water use rate. The ultimate goal is to develop an automated algorithm to calculate actual water use.

Bill Kreuser, Assistant Professor and Turfgrass Extension Specialist, wkreuser2@unl.edu

Categories: test feeds

Falcons gamble on retractable roof

August 15, 2017

In a perfect-ish world, the super-expensive retractable roof on the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta would, you know, retract.

That it doesn’t yet, at least not automatically, might cause a twinge of embarrassment and some extra costs for the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United.

Rise up? How about “Open up!”

But the roof and its challenges are reminders that the $1.5 billion stadium is really a private business palace, despite the hundreds of millions of dollars in public money involved.

There were easier, less costly ways to outfit the stadium with a sunroof.

Falcons and United owner Arthur Blank just opted for a riskier path that offers more glory.

His efforts to make a big architectural and engineering statement adds more cool to Atlanta without the public having to shoulder any more of the bill than if he had settled for plain vanilla. (Of course, Falcons ticket buyers surely will end up picking up much of the extra weight.)

The government’s contribution to the construction tab is capped at $200 million in hotel/motel taxes, but then it will shovel in hundreds of millions of dollars more for financing, operations and maintenance over the next 30 years. Does Atlanta have such an abundance of public dollars and such a dearth of community needs that local government — backed by the state legislature — should be subsidizing one for-profit business over others? Don’t get me started.

Back to the roof. Blank’s desire to do something grand downtown probably will be rewarded. The cooler the stadium, the greater the draw for fans, the more they may be willing to pay for the experience.

As the hard-hat crews at the stadium edge closer to finishing their work, curious fans and visitors often gather outside the gate to gawk and take photos. Security guards get peppered with questions about the roof — “Is it working yet?” — and about a giant bird sculpture near the building. A company executive told me it is believed to be the biggest falcon sculpture in the world. Someone keeps a log of such things?

“It’s beautiful,” a local teenager said when I asked about the stadium’s design.

I like the outside of the building, too. But there’s something about the expansive views inside big sports stadiums that are extra fascinating. The Mercedes-Benz Stadium offers that, plus a giant window looking out toward the city.

The stadium’s biggest other distinctions (aside from$2 hot dogs) are up above, rather than down on the field: a giant 360-degree oval video screen and that retractable roof, which when closed acts like a sort of skylight. Trying to get the engineering and steel right for both helped delay the stadium’s opening by months and racked up extra costs.

The retractable roof is supposed to open in an ever-widening oval like a camera aperture, (though I’ve seen some less pleasant descriptions online). It’s made up of eight petals, each essentially shaped like a pizza slice and weighing 500 tons.

I clambered up to the roof with Steve Cannon, CEO of Falcons’ parent AMB Group, and stood beside one petal. It was like I was standing next to an entire building, one that sits on rails and slides across the stationary part of the roof roughly 300 feet over fans heads.

‘Rest assured’ “Great design is not easy,” Cannon told me. At which point he brought up the challenges builders surely had in erecting the Eiffel Tower and the Sydney Opera House.

Right now, the stadium has “a fully operational roof but it is not automated yet.” Huh?

They have a couple of more tests involving maddeningly slow, petal-by-petal openings of the roof before they try to have them all simultaneously open.

Eventually, when everything is working right, the process is supposed to take about 11 minutes, with the panels creating the optical illusion of looking like they are revolving a bit. Or so I’m told.

“It will open this season, rest assured,” Cannon said during our rooftop chat.

A delay of a matter of months in a building that will last decades (he claims) is no biggie.

The retractable roof sounds like fun to watch.

Too bad most Falcons fans at the games won’t get to witness it in person, even after any construction bugs are worked out.

Blimp shot

Blank boasted that the Mercedes-Benz Stadium has “the most complicated roof design in the history of the world.”

But because of NFL rules, the team will have to decide at least 90 minutes before kickoff whether to leave the roof open or closed.

Cannon told me Atlanta United fans will sometimes see the roof move to address weather changes during games. But Scott Jenkins, the stadium’s general manager, said he isn’t sure yet if Major League Soccer will set limits like those in the NFL.

So what might be one of the most “wow” parts of the stadium — the actual opening and closing motion of the roof — is most likely to occur when most fans aren’t there. People strolling Atlanta’s streets won’t have a clear view of the action either.

How will we see it?

“The blimp shot,” Cannon told me. “They are going to watch that.”

A camera crew on the blimp won’t hover over other stadiums to see retractable roofs in action, but they will over Atlanta, he assured me.

Which should be good for another business reason. Mercedes-Benz has plastered the stadium’s two-and-a-half acres of retractable roof with the automaker’s three-pointed star emblem.

Visible from space? 

“It’s the largest corporate logo on Earth,” Cannon said. “And I’m pretty sure you can see it from the International Space Station.”

Everyone’s got different ideas about how to spend their money. And when it’s their money, that’s OK.

Maybe another wealthy person would have chosen to incorporate some feature that would be a little more visible to those of us more down to earth. You know, like outfitting the exterior of the stadium with a gargantuan glowing peanut that is automatically de-shelled at 9 each night.

Personally, I’m drawn to cheaper options. I hope they eventually offer roof-top tours to the public. (It doesn’t sound like they will. Cannon said no one had ever asked before I did.) Or how about an option to spend a few minutes harnessed and hanging horizontal over the lip of the open roof, watching the game below?

Just a thought.- by Matt Kempner, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Categories: test feeds

Keynote at the STMA Conference

August 15, 2017

Mark Johnson coached baseball at the college level for 41 years, 23 of those at Texas A&M University. During that time, he coached two USA baseball teams, was named Coach of the Year by the U.S. Olympic Committee, named to six Halls of Fame, was the “Sporting News” Coach of the Year, and was named an SEC “Conference Legend.” Mark played baseball at the University of New Mexico, where he received his undergraduate and graduate degrees. He then went on to play in the New York Mets minor league system. He also received the “Lefty Gomez Award” and “Ethics in Coaching in Award” from American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA), as well as the national Fellowship of Christian Athletes “Character in Coaching.” He has coauthored three books published by the ABCA.

Mark will be presenting “Everyone Counts – They Bring Energy, Enthusiasm, and Energy.”

He has spent years speaking throughout the country as well as overseas. He will bring high energy and exhibit 41 years of coaching motivation. He will visit humorous topics concerning the “In’s and Outs of Baseball” and the honored tradition of baseball “signs.” Mark will inspirationally touch on subjects of adversity, pressure, vision, and risking to achieve. In the end, he will ask you to get off the sidelines and “let your light shine.”

Categories: test feeds

Doug Linde, PhD at DelVal partnering with New Zealand turf researchers

August 15, 2017
A DelVal professor partners with researchers from New Zealand on new turf management research.

Dr. Doug Linde, a professor of turf management at Delaware Valley University, has been working with researchers from New Zealand to try to determine the best way to measure putting green trueness (how the turf impacts the roll of a ball on a golf course putting green). He recently co-authored a peer-reviewed paper on the findings. On July 18, Dr. Linde presented the work at the International Turfgrass Society (ITS) Conference. Dr. Linde’s research was also published in the International Turfgrass Society Research Journal in July.

The ITS is a scientific organization that was established in 1969. ITS encourages research and education in turfgrass science and promotes personal communication among the international community of turfgrass researchers. ITS organizes international conferences where turf professionals present research and information on all phases of turfgrass production and use.

Dr. Linde co-authored the paper, “Comparing three methods to measure putting green trueness” with Dr. Andrew Mitchell and Brendan Hannan, two scientists from the New Zealand Sports Turf Institute.

The research was an attempt to find an objective method that could measure how the turf impacts the roll of a golf ball on putting greens.  Dr. Linde and the team from New Zealand Sports Turf Institute compared several methods for measuring trueness.

Maintaining putting green trueness is important because of golfer perceptions.  Although the researchers proved that the slight wobbling or bouncing of a ball might not always determine whether or not a putted golf ball goes in the hole, golfers want to see the ball roll without bouncing or wobbling. So, it’s important for golf course superintendents to effectively measure and manage trueness. About Delaware Valley University
Delaware Valley University is an independent, comprehensive university with more than 1,000 acres in Bucks and Montgomery counties. Founded in 1896, DelVal emphasizes experiential and interdisciplinary learning and provides small class sizes where students learn on a first-name basis. Through the innovative Experience360 Program, all DelVal students gain real world experience in their fields. Located in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, DelVal combines the comfort of small-town living with the excitement of big-city access. DelVal offers more than 25 undergraduate majors in the sciences, humanities and business, more than five master’s programs, a Doctor of Education and a variety of adult education courses.

Categories: test feeds

T.U.R.F. seeking support for field of their dreams

August 8, 2017

Tom Flynn doesn’t need to look down when navigating the divots and ruts on the field at Old Rochester Regional High School.

“I’ve probably walked every inch of that field,” said the founder of Old Rochester Youth Football and president of the Tri-Town Unified Recreational Facilities (T.U.R.F., Inc.). “I’ve spent most of the last 11 years on that field. I know where all the potholes are.”

While Flynn knows the right places to step to avoid a twisted ankle, he and many others in the Tri-Town community, can’t sidestep the need for something to be done.

“It’s been an issue that we’ve known for a while,” said Flynn. “You’ve got all the high school teams using it, Pop Warner using it and youth lacrosse using it. It’s a community hub and it’s taken its toll on the grass fields.”

“If you ask any South Coast Conference coach, they’ll tell you ORR has some of the worst fields,” said Old Rochester athletic director Bill Tilden. “We’re probably in the bottom 20 percent in the state.”

A quick look across the all-purpose stadium field, which is home to ORR’s football, boys and girls soccer and boys and girls lacrosse teams, shows uneven ground, holes and large patches of dirt.

“By our season, the spring season, the field is borderline embarrassing,” said Old Rochester girls lacrosse coach Scott Tavares. “When you have a big game and another school comes in, you’re just embarrassed by the field conditions. It’s 50 percent grass and 50 percent dirt.”

“They’re in pretty rough shape,” said Old Rochester football coach Justin Kogler. “To be honest with you, most opposing coaches will make comments about the fields and how rough they are.”

The poor conditions create an unsafe playing surface and can get even worse when mixed with rain or other elements.

“The bottom line is that at any moment this fall, a referee or official could walk on the field and see the dangerous conditions and cease play. And play will not be continued until it’s rectified,” said T.U.R.F. board member and Old Rochester parent Hal Rood. “We are grabbing a megaphone and making sure everyone understands there has been to be a sense of urgency because kids are going to get hurt.”

So how did it get this bad?

Just imagine the wear and tear from more than a decade of overuse.

The last time the fields at Old Rochester received an upgrade was in 2001. Since then, they’ve not only serviced the high school teams, they’ve seen the addition of youth football and youth lacrosse programs.

“In the past 20 years, the Tri-Towns haven’t added any recreational space,” said Rood. “In that time you had a youth football league start and a youth lacrosse league and now a second youth soccer league.

“There’s been an explosion in participation. Kids are playing multiple sports. You have kids on the fields all year round. The fields at the school don’t have a time to recover.”

During the fall, the all-purpose field takes a pounding with a full slate of boys and girls soccer games throughout the week, Friday night football and Pop Warner action on Sundays.

“We’re way over on usage. That’s why the fields have gotten to this point,” said Tilden. “But what are you going to do? Tell youth football they can’t play on the field. You’ve got to find a way to get those youth groups on it.”

In a study of 2016 usage of ORR’s main athletic field by Kaestle Boos Associates, Inc., high school and youth sports combined for 1,040 hours. That’s 440 hours over the acceptable time for a grass field, according to T.U.R.F.

“It just makes a mess of everything,” said Kogler. “Later on in the season, the middle is completely dirt. It’s hard for the quarterback to grip the ball because the ball is covered in dirt.”

Kogler said he feels the field conditions can impact the final score.

“We were in a situation a few years ago, it was pouring out and there were puddles on the field,” he recalled. “There were puddles of standing water on the field during the game against Voke. It was ugly.

“When the field gets wet, it can totally change the outcome of the game. Some of the kids have a hard time of keeping their footing.”

While Harry Smith tries not to let it impact his play, in the back of his mind, the senior running back knows where the rough spots are on the football field.

“In the game, you’re not thinking about it, but you know,” he said. “It’s bad, but you get used to it after a while.”

Tavares said a few times this spring, he chose to play some schools on the road twice on turf fields instead of having home lacrosse games.

“It’s almost like a disadvantage of playing at home, especially in our game,” he said. “It’s actually detrimental for us to play on our field. When we play on a turf field, we play faster and we play cleaner.”

Tilden said upgraded facilities, including two turf fields, could take ORR athletics to the next level, especially at the state level, where teams like field hockey have struggled to make deep runs.

“Their field is probably the worst of all of them,” said Tilden of the back corner field that field hockey competes on. “The reason that they cannot advance in the tournament has a lot to do with their field conditions. All the top teams are playing on turf so they’re outmatched.

“People always see us as a threat in the tournament, but with better facilities, we’d be able to go further and we’d be able to roll out more state champions. We’re not quite there yet because we play on such poor surfaces now.”

That’s scary considering the school year Old Rochester athletics had — 13 South Coast Conference championships, four All-State individual champions, two divisional state titles, one state finalist, one New England champion and one All-American.

“You look at athlete of the year or player of the year, we had more than half a dozen,” said Tavares. “We dominated in the area, but if you look at our facility it doesn’t match up with the quality of athletes we are producing.”

Danny Renwick, an All-American in the winter, was a New England champion in the spring despite training on a track that is well past its shelf life. The six-lane track also doesn’t meet current standards of hosting a championship meet.

“The championships are mostly on eight-lane tracks,” pointed out Tilden, who is also a track coach at the school. “There are huge cracks on the track. It’s beyond its lifespan by four or five years. The asphalt underneath the rubber needs to be torn out and started over again.”

Also, the goalposts, which are straight uprights, are not up to current standards, which require arching uprights for new fields.

“We’ve had great success with the youth programs and great success with the high school teams and great success in the community,” said Flynn. “We have to have a great facility. That’s the part that is missing now.”

Old Rochester’s dire playing conditions have prompted several private citizens to form T.U.R.F., a non-profit group focused on transforming the run-down space into a state-of-the-art facility.

Behind some grassroots fundraising, T.U.R.F. has conducted studies on the current conditions of the fields and hired engineering firm Kaestle Boos Associates, Inc. to draw up a master plan for the “Tri-Town Athletic Complex,” which would service not only the high school, but youth and adult leagues.

“It’s not a high school project, it’s a community project,” said Flynn. “The fields are physically located at the high school, but it’s the entire community using it. That’s how we’re approaching it. It’s going to be a win for all three towns.”

The $4.9M plan features two artificial turf fields, a new, expanded eight-lane track, two natural grass fields with irrigation, dedicated baseball and softball diamonds, spectator seating for the track and the multi-use field, LED field lighting, new goalposts, re-fencing of the tennis court’s back wall, a field house with bathrooms, concession stand, ticket booth and covered press box.

With a green light from Old Rochester Regional District School Committee earlier this year, T.U.R.F. is now looking for support from the Board of Selectmen in Marion, Mattapoisett and Rochester in hopes of getting this proposal onto a ballot and passed in all three towns.

“They’ve charged us with bringing this to the towns and moving this project forward because they see the need to,” said Rood.

“This is a project that is going to be transformative for the Tri-Towns,” said Flynn.

With support from a group of Founder’s Circle donors over the past 18 months, T.U.R.F. has funded the initial analysis of the facility and spent approximately $10,000 for the master plan.

“We have a motivated group of citizens,” Rood said. “We’re expecting the towns to step up with us.”

For this field of dreams to become a reality, the three communities must come together.

“The success of it relies on community involvement,” Flynn said.

Rood said, “All three towns have to share into this investment.”

Rood estimates the total proposed project cost per town at $1,670,000, which also includes the purchase of maintenance equipment to maintain the synthetic fields and yearly safety testing of the fields.

“That is why we moved to the area — the quality of life and expectations,” Rood said.

So is turf the answer for Old Rochester and the Tri-Towns?

“I love nice grass fields. There are a lot of schools that have nice grass fields, like Apponequet and Seekonk,” said Kogler. “The problem with us is basically every team uses it. It’s overused.

“If you’re on a turf field, you don’t have to worry about that. It will make for a lot cleaner of a game. There’s less of an injury risk. I’m all for it.”

“I would say turf is the way to go,” said New Bedford High athletic director Tom Tarpey, whose programs have access to Keith Middle School’s turf field.

Tarpey said there are many benefits to a turf field.

“The big thing would be the weather. You can play in any type of weather. Secondly, the maintenance of the field is minimal. You also can play different sports on the field. It just makes sense.”

GNB Voc-Tech athletic director Ryan Methia said the higher upfront costs are worth it.

“You’re paying more money up front for the turf, but you’re saving more money on maintenance,” he said. “You don’t have to water it, cut it, seed it.

“You’re going to have less twisted ankles. You always have a nice flat surface to play on. You don’t have to worry about footing and slipping. It’s always a different game over on turf. It’s a lot better to play turf.”

Rood estimates the projected revenue of field rentals to make back 25 percent ($105,000) of the yearly annual payments ($420,000).

“There is no question that this is a revenue generator if our design goes through,” Rood said. “What public project you can point to where 20-40 percent can be paid off with revenue generation? We really are working to help the towns see the vision. It’s innovative and it’s different.”

Methia can vouch for the high demand of turf fields in the area.

“There are a lot of people that want to use our facilities,” he said. “There’s a lot of demand to use our field.”

Outside of high school and middle school athletics, T.U.R.F. believes the new facility would benefit ORR Youth Lacrosse, ORR Youth Football, Marion, Mattapoisett, Rochester Youth Soccer, Mattapoisett Track Club, Mattapoisett Community Tennis Association, adult and premier sport organizations and community track users.

“My kids are probably never going to play on the new fields,” said Rood, whose son, Brett, is a junior at Old Rochester. “I just feel strongly this needs to be done. I can’t ignore what is happening. I want to leave this facility better than we found it.”-by Laurie Los, South Coast Today,  @LaurieLosSCT

Categories: test feeds

Pitch patterns banned at EPL grounds

August 8, 2017

From Katie McIntyre’s Sports Venue Business: The English Premier League (EPL), which kicks off this Friday, announced the second of 10 developments for the 2017/18 season last week, which will mean that grounds staff are no longer able to get creative with their playing surfaces.

Rules state that the playing surface must contain no markings other than the traditional horizontal and white lines. Pitch patterns and designs will therefore no longer be allowed in the EPL as of the start of the 2017/18 season.

This amendment brings the EPL Rules into line with UEFA’s regulations for its competitions and follows consultation with the Premier League Club groundsmen.

In recent seasons, both the Leicester City and Southampton pitches have won plaudits for the standard of their maintenance.

Arsenal will host Leicester in the first match of the EPL season this Friday, August 11.

Leicester Grounds Manager, John Ledwidge, has been one of the leading lights in growing international recognition and respect for the role of the groundsman through the elaborate pitch day patterns that kept appearing at King Power Stadium last season.

Speaking in an interview with Sports Venue Business (SVB) CEO, Katie McIntyre, earlier this year about what made him decide to try out different patterns and how much extra time and care was required to achieve this, John said, “These things do take time and I think every groundsman up and down the country has had a go at applying some patterns to their pitches. We were fortunate last season to have an amazing platform to showcase what we can do, but the message was clear. I wanted people to talk about our industry and raise the profile for groundsmen who work hard at every level.

“I have been on both ends of the spectrum, working with little or no resource to now, having what I need to work effectively, so the coverage we got last season was less a self-promotion and more to raise awareness of what a great industry we have, one I’m very proud to be part of.”

See pictures

Categories: test feeds

The end of Velocity?

August 8, 2017

Velocity SG (bispyribac-sodium) is a useful herbicide in integrated management plans for both annual and roughstalk bluegrass, but that soon may change. While the future of this herbicide is still somewhat uncertain, it is currently no longer in production. The current inventory is expected to last for a short time while a final decision is made, but local and regional distributors have already reported shortages of Velocity. It seems that those who rarely sell Velocity still have a small inventory, whereas those who have historically sold more are completely out of the product and are unable to get more. If you are a fan of this herbicide, look for and purchase all that you can.

Assuming this truly is the end for Velocity, cool-season turf managers are left with only Prograss (ethofumesate), Xonerate (amicarbazone), and Tenacity (mesotrione) for selective postemergence control (or suppression) of annual bluegrass. Perhaps even worse, Velocity is currently the only herbicide labeled for the selective control of roughstalk bluegrass in cool-season grasses, leaving only mechanical or nonselective control strategies for this formidable foe.

If you are looking for a Velocity replacement (for annual bluegrass control) this fall, remember that Prograss is best applied in fall, but Xonerate should be applied in spring. Alternatively, a preemergence herbicide application this fall may mitigate annual bluegrass establishment next spring. For roughstalk bluegrass, remember that spring applications of glyphosate are more effective than fall applications (http://turf.unl.edu/turfinfo/5- 18_Poa_triv.pdf).

If you use Velocity, please email me at the address below. I’ve agreed to pass testimonials on to a Nufarm representative in an attempt to quantify the void that may be left in the absence of this product.

Cole Thompson, Asst. Prof. & Extension Integrated Turfgrass Management Specialist, cole.thompson@unl.edu

Categories: test feeds

Court in Maryland overturns local pesticide ban

August 8, 2017

RISE (Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment) reported the Montgomery County, Maryland Circuit Court struck down the County’s ban on lawn and garden pesticide use on private property. The Court confirmed that the County’s ban is unlawful and preempted by Maryland law.

RISE President Aaron Hobbs said, “We are gratified that the Court agreed that the County’s ban on the use of State- and EPA-approved pesticides on private land is preempted by Maryland state law, which already provides uniform and comprehensive regulation of pesticide use across the state.

“Today’s decision is a win for resident and community choice. Pesticides purchased and applied by consumers and licensed professionals in the county help maintain healthy outdoor spaces for more than 1 million people who call the county home,” added Hobbs.

In November 2016, RISE, along with seven residents, six local businesses, and CropLife America, filed a legal challenge to Montgomery County’s ban on the application of hundreds of lawn and garden products on private property. A grassroots coalition of more than 400 residents, homeowners and licensed professionals worked together to oppose the ban since it was introduced in 2014.

The ban narrowly passed the County Council, with County Executive Ike Leggett expressing doubt about its legality before allowing it to go into effect without his signature. This grassroots coalition succeeded in laying the groundwork for a successful legal challenge to a contentious and complex ordinance that left Montgomery County residents uncertain about how to protect their lawns from weeds and pests.

Located in Washington, D.C., RISE is the national trade association representing manufacturers, formulators, distributors and other industry leaders engaged with specialty pesticides and fertilizers used by consumers and professionals.

Categories: test feeds

Andrew Marking wins Stars and Stripes Mowing Contest

August 1, 2017

Congratulations to Andrew Marking for winning the STMA’s “Stars and Stripes” mowing pattern contest!

Marking is Head Groundskeeper for the Quad Cities River Bandits (Davenport, Iowa), Class-A affiliate of the Houston Astros. With his “Banks of the Mississippi River” field design at Modern Woodmen Park, he has won a complimentary pass to the 2018 STMA Annual Conference in Fort Worth, TX. Andrew Anderson, the club’s Assistant Groundskeeper, helped craft the pattern.

In its second year, a record 21 entries were received via social media, solidifying it as STMA’s most popular contest to date. The winning submission narrowly won by less than 30 “likes” selected through Facebook’s voting platform. Marking’s intricate design generated nearly 200 “likes.”

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Football field flooding remains a mystery

August 1, 2017

Tucson Magnet High School’s million-dollar football field flooded again Friday, before authorities had time to figure out what caused it to flood nine days earlier.

This time, the flooding wasn’t nearly as severe or as long lasting as on July 19, when Rollin Gridley Field was jokingly called “Gridley Lake” and the entire field was underwater for an extended period. On Friday, only large parts of the field and the surrounding track were flooded and the water receded by 5:30 p.m.

District officials hope to be able to pinpoint the flooding causes by next week and get the field ready by the time the Tucson High Badgers’ season starts at the end of August, said Interim Tucson Unified School District Superintendent Gabriel Trujillo.

The cost of repairing damage to the field should be covered by flood insurance, Trujillo said. The district is working closely with its insurers and with “partners” at the city of Tucson and Pima County to assess the damage and determine the best fix, he said while standing near the field Friday evening.

Early this week, Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry fingered debris-clogged storm drains on and near the field as a culprit for the July 19 flooding. The presence of a rubberized layer underneath the field’s artificial turf and of buildings near the field also made it hard for floodwaters to easily escape, he wrote in a report on Monday.

Trujillo said much of the debris had been cleared from the storm drain grates by Friday. But floodwaters were bubbling up onto the field through grates on its northeast and southwest corners Friday, he said, and he doesn’t know why or the source. Other observers pointed to a large culvert northeast of the field that appeared to be bringing in floodwaters off of Sixth Street.

“It’s way too early to make a determination as to where the water is coming from,” Trujillo said. “You’re dealing with drainages built by the Army Corps of Engineers, box culverts run by the city and our own drainage pipes. We really need more time and information.”

“Anytime you have weather-related challenges it forces institutions to work together,” he added.

Before the field reopens, district officials want to make sure it’s stable structurally, that no water is dripping from the artificial turf and that the turf contains no holes, he said. They also want to make sure any bacterial or other contamination left behind by the floodwaters is gone, he said.

Urban storm runoff typically carries many types of pollutants, including toxins from asphalt streets.

“We want to take all possible precautions,” Trujillo said.- by Tony Davis, Arizona Daily Star (Tucson)

Categories: test feeds

Interview with Mike Wooley of Venue Solutions Group

August 1, 2017

Katie McIntyre, CEO of Sports Venue Business, (www.sportsvenuebusiness.com) shares insights from Mike Wooley, Partner, Venue Solutions Group, LLC, who explains the importance of Facility Condition Assessments and details how venues can improve their performance.

Firstly, can you start off by telling our readers about Venue Solutions Group (VSG), the services you provide, and the types of clients you work with?

Wooley: VSG partners are all former facility managers who collectively bring over 70 years of direct experience in planning, opening, operating and managing public assembly facilities. We provide consulting to the industry in safety & security, guest experience benchmarking, facility operational reviews, facility condition assessments, organizational assessments, new construction and renovation, and all aspects of operational assistance.

VSG continues to provide services to the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and MLS facilities, collegiate athletics at all levels, municipal governments, and sports architectural and engineering firms domestically and internationally.

What are the key benefits of having facility condition assessments carried out?

Wooley: Clients receive an accurate view of the condition of their facility, systems and equipment. Also:

  • Infrastructure issues can be identified and addressed.
  • A benchmark can be established that will allow for future evaluation of maintenance and operation (how well the building is being cared for).
  • Creating information that can positively influence preventive maintenance planning.
  • The owner can identify the remaining useful life of the major equipment and systems, allowing a capital funding schedule to be created and thus minimizing “emergency” repairs/replacement.
  • The owner/board/authority has a complete understanding of future financial needs related to maintaining their asset (long term capital needs), and has the science to prove it if necessary.
  • The assessment can play a material role in identifying areas for facility improvements that have potential synergies that can lead to cost and functional efficiencies.
  • Areas of opportunity can be identified for future revenue generation and guest enhancements.

 

What are the intrinsic benefits of performing a Facility Condition Assessment?

Wooley:

  • Do I operate my facility in accordance to industry “best practices”?
  • What has changed/is changing, how can this information help us to be better or more efficient?
  • Opportunities for improved performance through implementation of industry “best practices”.
  • Validation of asset preservation.
  • Opportunities for an improved customer and tenant experience.
  • Creation of the “science” to develop a vision to extend the expected usable life of the facility and its assets.
  • Development of a long-range plan that reflects the expected usable life of the facility and establishes and prioritizes long-term capital costs.
  • The facility will have a plan to maintain its competitiveness, considering new facility competition is forthcoming.

 

How can venues improve their performance?

Wooley:

  • Benchmarking against peers
  • A culture that encourages staff professional development
  • Continual evaluation of “systems & processes”
  • Establishing key performance indicators (KPI’s) to help set annual goals
  • Develop industry network for access to “best practices”
  • Encourage staff members to develop access to a diverse set of professional communications and publications and create an environment to share that information.

 

VSG offers a range of services, from pre-opening consulting, guest experience benchmarking, operational reviews and assessments, to facility condition assessments, safety & security, and executive searches. Can you talk us through the journey of 2-3 venues that you’ve provided a range of services to?

Wooley: Our work in assisting clients on their journey in designing their new stadiums, arenas and meeting facilities has grown significantly in the last 3 years. We have embedded with the development team early in the process and have been able to review design through every phase of development, having a positive effect on long term operating outcomes including costs.

Our involvement early in the process has led to improved operating efficiencies for the owner. Each owner and development team has different needs, and our work is tailored to those needs. We assist with safety & security, operating & managing systems and processes, technology, sustainability, the grand opening schedule and FF&E, as well as other unique operating needs each project has. This often includes assisting in the development of professional relationships with Police, Fire and First Responders, Traffic and Parking Management, sub-contractor identification and the process to select the appropriate partners.

What industry trends are currently tracking and which do you feel will have the most impact?

Wooley:

  • Technology – CCTV, Video Management Systems, Access Control and Smart City integration, which will eventually lead the coordination of IoT data (a Lot of Data).
  • Technology – Fan apps bringing information and communication directly to our guest’s personal devices, personalizing the guest experience from home to facility and back.
  • Changes in how ticketing along with the fan App’s mentioned above will create a more integrated, customized and efficient guest experience.

 

Which have been the most impactful developments over the last decade and what evolutions do you foresee for the next decade?

Wooley: The personal mobile device has already altered in a significant way how we live our lives. It has changed some of everything we do, and I believe that it will have a growing impact on how guests attend and experience live events in the future.

Finally, if you could offer one piece of advice to an industry colleague, what would it be? Alternatively, what’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Wooley: Invest time in learning the business. Do not wait for someone above you to tell you what you need to know to improve. Invest in your own professional development that may be the investment of time to be aware and learn more or it can mean invest in your own career. If your company will not pay for training, exhaust what is available for free and then spend on your own improvement.

Don’t just “stay in your lane”, take time to learn what other people in your organization do. Manage by “walking around” and have empathy.

Lastly, learn from related businesses; we learn a great deal from hospitals, airports, commercial real estate business, amusement parks, lifestyle centers, etc. There is a massive opportunity to learn all around us. People would be surprised at how accommodating people will be when someone shows initiative and a willingness to learn.

 

 

Categories: test feeds

Practice facility collapses at South Alabama

August 1, 2017

The University of South Alabama Jaguars football team won’t be holding workouts in their new practice facility anytime soon.

USA athletic director Joel Erdmann announced last week that the Jaguar Training Facility, which began construction this spring, had completely collapsed. No one was injured in the accident.

Bob Lowry, media relations director for the school, confirmed the collapse in a statement. “At approximately 2:15 p.m. on Saturday, July 22, the structure of the Jaguar Training Center, a covered athletics practice facility that is under construction on the University of South Alabama campus, fell within the construction limits of the site. No workers were present in that area at the time,” Lowry said.

The cause of the collapse is still under investigation.

See photo

Categories: test feeds

Still hard to predict which horses will take to synthetic surfaces

July 26, 2017

Defining a textbook horse who is likely to succeed on dirt or turf can be as simple as glancing at the specimen’s physical makeup and pedigree page. Horsemen, however, remain divided over determining an archetype for synthetic-surface runners.

Horsemen now have 12 years of data on modern all-weather surfaces to help form an opinion, beginning with Turfway Park’s installation of Polytrack for its 2005 fall meet. From there, tracks in six other states and provinces have followed. Races on synthetic tracks have crossed the spectra of class and distance from nickel claimers to the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Synthetic surfaces have fallen in and out of vogue, leaving Woodbine’s as the highest-profile meet with an all-weather main track. The Queen’s Plate, with a purse of 1 million Canadian dollars, is the world’s richest race over a synthetic surface.

Woodbine is in its 11th year of racing over a synthetic surface, but even the province’s most successful horsemen are still sorting out which characteristics work best on the main track.

“I’ve been looking hard to see if I can find a ‘synthetic foot,’ and I’ve had all different variation of horses win races [on the surface],” said Mike De Paulo, the trainer of 2016 Canadian Horse of the Year Caren. “Where you have a clubby-foot horse that maybe does a little better in the mud or flatfooted horses do a little better on the turf, I haven’t been able to find it yet.”

For some, the question of how a horse will run on synthetic footing can only be answered on the track.

“I have no hard-and-fast rule yet, I don’t think,” said Ian Black, the trainer of 2007 Queen’s Plate winner Mike Fox. “You buy the better horses. Some of these horses, when they’re not handling it, you go out there and train and work them a few times, and maybe you have to go to Fort Erie to find the dirt.”

There may not be a uniform opinion on what makes a synthetic-surface standout, but most will acknowledge the success that turf-leaning horses have had in the conversion.

To a degree, it adds up. Among last year’s top 20 sires by North American synthetic earnings, 10 won at least once on turf during their own racing careers. Just four of the top 20 on the overall sire list boasted a turf win.

“Any time we go to buy a yearling, we generally look to see if there’s some turf in the pedigree because synthetic and turf are fairly similar,” De Paulo said. “I wouldn’t say they’re the same. I’ve had plenty of horses that were good Polytrack horses that didn’t run well on the grass, but it’s certainly a little closer than a dirt horse.”

Nine of last year’s top 10 North American sires by progeny earnings on synthetic surfaces were Ontario-based, showing the weight that Woodbine’s Tapeta surface carries with the province’s breeders.

Old Forester has been Canada’s leading sire by general and synthetic earnings in four of the past six years, including 2015 and 2016. The son of Forestry was a Grade 3 winner on turf but has never topped the country’s turf sire list.

The stallion resides at T. C. Westmeath Stud Farm in Shelburne, Ontario. Farm owner John Carey said he does not buy into the belief that turf success automatically translates into success on all-weather surfaces. Instead, he said a stallion’s will to win and his ability to impart that onto his foals is the key to success on the surface.

“If you’re looking at a horse to stand as a sire, you have to look at a horse that was competitive,” Carey said. “Whether he ran on grass, synthetic, or dirt, he has to be a competitive racehorse himself.”- By Joe Nevills, Daily Racing Form

Categories: test feeds

EPA on synthetic turf safety

July 26, 2017

The Environmental Protection Agency has been tweaking what it bills a comprehensive investigation of synthetic turf fields and playground infill containing recycled rubber. The initiative launched in February 2016 in response to unfounded claims about potential health risks. Today we’re still waiting on the agency — to either develop a credible study or accept the extensive scientific research that shows no evidence of a connection between recycled rubber and health risks.

The results of the study — led by the EPA in conjunction with the Consumer Products Safety Commission and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry — were intended to fill any “data and knowledge gaps” in the existing body of science, and address the lingering rumors and concerns around the safety of these products once and for all.

However, what has transpired since has achieved the exact opposite. Repeated delays, along with disclosures revealing the limitations of the study’s designs, have instead failed to fulfill this mission.

As the multi-agency study drags along — likely to take two more years at the least — parents and school officials nationwide await clarity, and in many cases are altering, delaying and even cancelling planned field projects. This is despite the fact that the credible science has overwhelmingly shown exposure to any chemicals present in recycled rubber is not meaningfully different from exposure to urban or rural soil. What’s more, this ongoing regulatory uncertainty is costing American jobs.

Troublingly, the EPA admitted in July that, “Due to time and resources constraints, we are not able, within this study, to investigate other types of fields (e.g. natural grass, synthetic fields with natural product infill, synthetic fields with EPDM or TPE infill) with sufficient sample sizes and statistical power” and also added, “(I)t is important to recognize that chemicals are present in other types of fields, including natural grass fields.”

In other words, they are evaluating recycled rubber in a vacuum without benchmarking findings against the relative safety of natural grass. This calls into question the basic usefulness of this study at all, which is why we have repeatedly asked EPA to use a benchmark.

Notably, in the past 16 months, a series of additional fact-based, scientific findings have been released adding to the more than 90 studies, peer-reviewed academic analyses and government reports already demonstrating the safety of these products.

First, the Washington Department of Health dispelled the notion that there was a connection between youth cancer cases in the state — as documented on a list kept by a notable soccer coach — and playing soccer on recycled rubber fields (an anecdotal theory that has been reported on heavily by the media). The department found prevalence of cancers among soccer players, select and premier players and goalkeepers on the list was actually less than could be expected of a random sampling.

Furthermore, as noted by the former Director of Risk Communication at the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis, a key finding of the department investigators was that players on the list had actually spent the majority of their time on natural grass fields. The department recommended, “People who enjoy soccer continue to play irrespective of the type of field surface.”

Relevant overseas bodies such as RIVM, the Dutch equivalent of EPA, and the European Chemicals Agency conducted their own scientific tests of recycled rubber and arrived at strikingly similar conclusions and recommendations. The two organizations referred to any potential risks posed by recycled rubber as “virtually negligible,” and “a very low level of concern,” respectively.

Last month, Dr. Archie Bleyer, a pediatric oncologist who chaired the Children’s Cancer Group for a decade, cited more than 41 sources in a peer-reviewed journal, Sports Medicine, stating the science does not support the hypothesis that recycled rubber is unsafe. He added that by providing more playing surfaces and thereby promoting healthier lifestyles, recycled rubber actually lessened the likelihood of cancer.

Prominent athletic organizations have shared similar statements. The chairman of the FIFA Medical Committee wrote, “A large number of studies have further confirmed that the effect of SBR rubber are as negligible as the effect of ingesting grilled foods or exposure to [tire] wear on roads in everyday life.” The Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation commissioned its own study for baseball players and found that cancer risks were “at or below one in a million.”

In short, the only issue left unsettled in the recycled rubber debate is whether the EPA and its fellow agencies will conclude their study in a timely way or at least issue a statement to the public to put a prompt end to today’s uncertainty. Certainly given this recent wave of new science, there are many better uses of taxpayer dollars and the agency’s time.

The science is clear, and any further examination that omits the necessary control group of natural grass will only lead to more confusion around a question that now has been resoundingly answered.

Dan Bond is president and CEO of the Synthetic Turf Council. Art Dodge is CEO of Ecore International. Rom Reddy is managing partner and CEO of Sprinturf and member of the Safe Fields Alliance.- From The Hill blog

Categories: test feeds

Special event security planning

July 26, 2017

Peter D. Yachmetz, a retired agent and 29-year FBI veteran with both private and corporate sector security experience, wrote the following and we found it on Katie McIntyre’s Sports Venue Business blog

During my career with the FBI, I received special training in special event security planning & preparedness and worked numerous special security events including the Super Bowl, World Cup Soccer, Visits of Heads of State, including the President & numerous NASA Space Shuttle launches & landings. Post FBI, I was responsible for corporate security in a privately held transportation company. And was more recently attached to the investigative & plainclothes surveillance unit at Walt Disney World [WDW], monitoring park events, company assets and guest attendance.

Special event security procedures are generally employed at WDW where park attendance reaches daily averages totaling in excess of 25,000 guests. On New Year’s Eve attendance at EPCOT and the Magic Kingdom totaled in excess of 75,000 guests … requiring special event security planning.

Besides terrorism, today’s security professional needs to be trained to look for serious crimes occurring within their venues.  These crimes range from random physical assaults to targeted shootings and stabbings, homicides, vehicle attacks, car bombings, Improvised Explosive Devices [IEDs], lone wolf attacks and deadly scenarios involving an active shooter.  And this is on top of their responsibilities to handle incidents involving a “disgruntled” employee or guest or a routine accident. Special event security planning is a must for any would be security professional in today’s global environment and the FBI and U.S. Secret Service provide some of the best training.

Law enforcement agents warn a venue’s accessibility and exposure are key considerations for terrorists deciding on a target.  And media feeds confirm their warnings, broadcasting headlines about mass casualties when venues are attacked. Television screens carrying images of wounded concert-goers in Manchester, England and two other incidents in France and Belgium also tell the story … big crowds and open venues are the ideal “mix” for terrorists. Street fairs, movie houses, convention halls and bars … all entertainment venues … are the perfect paradigm for terrorists. Given the moniker, “Soft Targets,” the venues are a security professional’s nightmare because they usually lack important security protections, are easily accessible and numerous. Finding the right compromise … making sure patrons are safe and still have fun is what special event security planning is all about.

Terrorist incidents have an “immediate” impact on a company, usually with dramatic economic consequences, bringing not only “unwanted” media attention, but lost attendance and declining revenues. Special event security planning done correctly mitigates that impact.  Planning for a high-profile event, security professionals need to combine experience and resources with a number of proactive procedures … all designed to defend and mitigate the consequence of an attack. Let’s briefly discuss:

I.] Security Planning & Management:

Special-events, attracting large numbers of guests, are now presumed to be terrorist targets. Security requirements for these events are unique … requiring a specific level of combined intellect and experience. Security professionals with distinct skills and proven strategies need to implement “best practices” to identify and mitigate any threat. Simply put, Security Directors [SD] need to identify/classify any threat and/or risk, develop plans to combat same, document both, and thereafter, implement policies & procedures to defend and protect both the venue and its guests.

II.] Priorities & Responsibility for Security Operational Matters:

Establish security priorities.  Develop and implement a proactive protective Crisis Management Plan [CMP] to reduce and mitigate any risk.  Raise terrorism awareness. Seek assistance from knowledgeable management & staff.  Establish an on-site Command Post [CP] responsible for credentialing, controlled access points and bag checks.  Screen visitors & restrict access.  Install/use magnetometers [walk thru & hand-held]. Initiate CCTV coverage including place for easy viewing. Have [a] plan to monitor/address crowd flow & density issues. Provide briefings to event staff, including developing and discussing contingency plans.

NOTE: It’s not just the main event that requires security consideration and protection. Most events also schedule Fan Fest Events, Mini-Concerts, and Pre-Event Dinners … all requiring security, as well as Meet & Greet Receptions prior to the main event. Procedures and policies must be in place to handle unexpected visitors and guest list problems.  Screening procedures need to be understood by everybody. Access controlled venues need to be tightly maintained. Parking & traffic problems can easily create issues which personnel need to address immediately. Remember each venue is unique.

III.] Perimeter Security Issues:

Deter.  Detect.  Delay.  Deny.  Perimeter security is your first line of defense. Beginning with the front gate vendors need to establish layers of physical security. Acceptable limits for access control must be defined. Consider establishing a perimeter barrier that creates both a physical & psychological deterrence to an intrusion. Barriers help security personnel with controlling “not only access, but assist with crowd control & directing vehicular traffic thru designated entrances.

IV.] Comprehensive Threat & Risk Assessment:

Quantify potential risks. Look at the event’s location. Determine its size inside and out [parking]. Determine the event’s duration. Think about security before and after the event. Conduct crime analysis for the venue. Collect/analyze intelligence regarding any potential threat and the likelihood of an incident. Consider conducting interviews and site surveys and making site observations. Evaluate security plans for local hotels. Analyze routes and modes of transportation for the venue. Liaise with law enforcement.

V.] Crisis Management [CM]:

By definition CM is the process of dealing with sudden emergencies. Identify and plan for emergencies. Develop strategies to address them.  Ensure staff is familiar with Emergency Response Plan [ERP]. Consider walk-thru or dress rehearsal with the ERP.  Liaise with emergency services personnel.

VI.] Staffing:

Ascertain number of security personnel needed for each post. Address all layers of security. Make sure sufficient personnel are available to guarantee perimeter security, in particular points of ingress & egress and venues requiring penetration testing to uncover vulnerabilities.  Ensure due diligence investigations are conducted and completed for personnel. Credential both uniform & non-uniform staff. Ensure 24-hour coverage once perimeter security has been established. Discuss security awareness. Ensure guests are monitored both arriving and departing (Manchester Bombing). Ensure emergency personnel are on site.

VII.] Specialized Personnel:

Make sure you have sufficient personnel to handle specialized tasks, including administrative managers, communication dispatchers, K-9 handlers, bike patrol officers, plainclothes and surveillance officers and IT people. Likewise, make sure you have appropriate specialized equipment and resources, including walkie-talkies, batteries & battery chargers, motorized vehicles and more. Consider using roving bike(s)/golf cart(s) and medical patrols.

VIII.] Plainclothes Surveillance Operatives:

Ensure designated personnel are knowledgeable maintaining a covert posture, trained in behavior and situational awareness, techniques of observation and normalization, and indicators of suspicion & terrorist activity.

IX.] Event in Progress:

Post a “see something … say something” poster throughout the venue with a visible telephone number so guests and visitors can call Command Post [CP].  Poster has proven to be an effective means … conveying message, “security is everybody’s business.” Also tells guests and public what to do, per chance, somebody sees something suspicious … like an “unattended” bag and/or a worrisome individual. It’s also faster than calling police.

X.] Event Conclusion:

Conduct a “hot wash.”  Critique performance & responsibilities. Identify strengths & discuss weaknesses. Prepare an After-Action Report [AAR]. Maintain AAR for future reference to minimize costs and help with your next special event security planning. Include suggestions & methods to modernize security plan for future events.

NOTE:  Remember an AAR is only an aid. It’s not a substitute for a Security Plan and doesn’t replace special event security planning.  AARs always need to be adjusted so SP recognizes the current landscape. Using the previous year’s plan as a substitute because there was no incident is a simple recipe for a disaster and cataclysmic event.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

PETER D. YACHMETZ is a retired agent and 29-year FBI veteran with both private and corporate sector security experience.  Classified as a subject matter expert (SME) in Physical Security & Access Control, Pete is well acquainted with all aspects of Physical Security [PS], Special Event Security [SES], Corporate Security [CS], Field Intelligence [FI], Terrorism [T] & Crisis Management [CM].

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Research provides insights into youth football injuries

July 26, 2017

The study of 97 local football players ages 9 to 13 represents the largest study of youth football players’ brain activity to date.

In March 2016, Wake Forest’s and Winston-Salem State’s athletes and trainers joined a 30-university study, along with Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center researchers.

The Concussion Assessment, Research and Education (CARE) consortium is sponsored by the Naiad U.S. Defense Department.

The $30 million study that began in 2014 is considered as the largest of its kind related to concussions. To date, the study has collected more than 25 million data points from more than 16,000 athletes. That number is expected to increase to 25,000 athletes.

Universities also participating from the Atlantic Coast Conference are Miami, North Carolina and Virginia Tech.

The focus on concussions usually has been on football players, but the prevalence of concussions is growing among other athletes, especially girls’ soccer players.

Parents and coaches trying to determine the right starting age for playing youth football may gain some perspective from a recent study by Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center researchers on blows to the head.

The study of 97 local football players ages 9 to 13 represents the latest update from researchers at Wake Forest Baptist. It also represents the largest study of youth football players’ brain activity to date.

The players’ parents gave permission for their children to participate. Although the majority of players were measured for one season, 16 players were followed from 2012 through 2015.

With the increase in awareness of concussions in youth sports, most prominently in football, but also in girls and boys soccer, wrestling and basketball, there’s a growing debate about when is the right time to allow children to play sports.

For example, many youth soccer associations don’t allow players younger than 12 to head the ball in hopes of reducing the potential impact of blows to the head jostling their still-developing brains.

Wake Forest Baptist researchers determined that age, size, coordination and tackling techniques matter in individual helmet impacts, and hits to the head for younger players tend to occur at a 30 percent to 50 percent higher rate during practice than games.

“We’re not out to demonize football or say football is bad,” Joel Stitzel, the chairman of Wake Forest Baptist’s biomedical engineering department, said about the research.

“The jury is out on when to start playing tackle football because it is such a complex issue,” Stitzel said, noting such variables as the intensity of practices, the quality of how tackling is taught, the conditioning of the players.

Stitzel said most of the local parents and coaches “are of the same mindset to make playing football as safe as we can.”

Findings of study

Each youth player wore a properly fitted Riddell Youth Speed helmet with sensors that collect the number and location of impacts, as well as how much jostling the impacts cause to the brain.

The sensors are similar to those used by researchers in their study of helmet impacts with 40 players at Reagan High School and players at Virginia Tech.

The study of Reagan players, released in December in cooperation with University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, found that the gray and white brain matter of 24 players was altered because of contact, though none was believed to have experienced a concussion during the season.

Video recorded all helmet impacts by local youth players during active play.

The players were divided into three categories: Level A (players 11 and under weighing up to 124 pounds), Level B (players 12 and under weighing up to 139 pounds), and Level C (players 13 and under weighing up to 159 pounds).

“By recording more than 40,000 head impacts, this study represents the largest collection of biomechanical head impact data for youth football to date,” said Jillian Urban, the study’s author and assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Wake Forest School of Medicine.

There were 12,890 head blows received by Level A players, 15,987 by Level B players and 11,661 by Level C players.

Some of the difference in blows can be explained by Level B players being involved in longer practices and games than Level A, while Level C players typically showed more experience and coordination with tackling techniques.

Researchers found the front of the helmet received the most blows during the study, similar to what was experienced by the high school and collegiate players.

Benefits versus risk

Investigators found that Level C had significantly greater accelerated brain jostling than Levels A and B, and that the accelerations were significantly greater during games as opposed to practice in Levels B and C.

Although two-thirds of all head impacts in the three levels occurred during practice, the percentage of high-magnitude impacts was higher in games, and the number of such impacts in games increased with the level of play.

Researchers said, “More effort is needed to reduce exposure to high-magnitude head impacts in practice, particularly at lower levels of play.”

Urban suggested study results could be used to recommend changes in practice structure and game rules.

Stitzel said the study shows that teaching proper tackling technique should become a practice priority of youth football coaches and leagues.

The study was published in the June issue of the Journal of Neurotrauma.- by Richard Craver, News & Record (Greensboro, North Carolina)

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