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Updated: 1 hour 11 min ago

Owner seeks tax breaks for sports domes

March 22, 2017

The Summit mall owner wants a tax break for the two inflatable sports domes he plans to build later this year behind the largely vacant mall on Williams Road in Wheatfield (NY).

If granted, the request would save the mall’s owner an estimated $560,000 over 10 years.

The Niagara County Industrial Development Agency board on Wednesday called for a public hearing to be held on a date to be determined, before the board’s likely vote on the project April 12.

In November 2014, the IDA granted a tax break to mall owner Zoran Cocov for the 810,000-square-foot mall itself, after hearing his plans for trying to resuscitate the run-down shopping center.

Cocov, of Brampton, Ont., also bought 570 acres of land around the mall.

Cocov’s company, Summit Outlets, now seeks an additional payment-in-lieu-of-taxes, or PILOT, arrangement on a $7.3 million improvement project, including the pair of 96,000-square-foot domes. The domes would contain several sports fields and courts for soccer, baseball, volleyball and basketball.

Besides reducing the property taxes on the domes for 10 years, the incentive also would exempt Summit Outlets from paying sales taxes on building materials and equipment for the domes.

Cocov previously said that the domes would help revive the mall by bringing local players to the facility, which would be connected to the mall. The only active stores at the mall are Sears, Bon-Ton and Save-a-Lot.

Save-a-Lot will close before the end of the year, said Cynthia Potts, Cocov’s director of operations.

The domes would create 14 full-time and 60 part-time jobs, according to the IDA application. The domes can be used in the offseason for trade shows and conventions.

The project also envisions renovating 48,540 square feet inside the existing mall building. The space would be converted into locker rooms, a pool, batting cages, a pitching mound and 10,000 square feet for personal training, including a health club.

The domes may not be built at the same time, because their location requires National Grid to move the mall’s primary electrical service, Potts said.

“I think we’re going to end up starting with one dome,” Potts said.

But she said there’s still a chance both will be completed this year.

Cocov, who bought the mall in 2014, said in his application that vandals have taken 85 percent of its rooftop air handling units and 80 percent of its wiring.

“We are seeking assistance and tax abatement help with erecting the domes, which we believe is the first step to begin the revitalization and repurposing of the mall,” the application said. “Without financial assistance, it will take years for the domes to be erected, operating and sustaining themselves, driving the resurgence of the mall and new opportunities within.”

The company already has proposed a brew pub and microbrewery in the mall. The Town of Wheatfield on Feb. 27 approved a state grant application for $750,000 to be applied toward the project under the name of Big Thunder Brewing Co.- by Thomas Prohaska, The Buffalo News (New York)

 

Categories: test feeds

USA Football makes changes to youth game

March 22, 2017

USA Football, the national governing body for amateur football, intends to introduce a drastically altered youth football game in response to declining participation and increasing public belief that the game is not safe for children to play.

The organization has created a new format that brings the game closer to flag football and tries to avoid much of the violence in the current version. Among the rule changes: Each team will have six to nine players on the field, instead of 11; the field will be far smaller; kickoffs and punts will be eliminated; and players will start each play in a crouching position instead of in a three-point stance.

“The issue is participation has dropped, and there’s concern among parents about when is the right age to start playing tackle, if at all,” said Mark Murphy, the president of the Green Bay Packers and a board member at USA Football.

“There are, legitimately, concerns among parents about allowing their kids to play tackle football at a young age,” Mr. Murphy continued, “so they can look at this and say they’ll be more comfortable that it is a safer alternative.”

Worries about the future of youth football are mounting as evidence of long-term cognitive dangers of playing the game grows.

For years, the sport’s top officials have played down the science and insisted that tackle football could be played safely. Neurologists have found a degenerative brain disease, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, in an alarming number of former football players, and last year the NFL’s top health and safety officer acknowledged for the first time the link between the disease and brain trauma sustained on the field.

“This is the future of the game,” Scott Hallenbeck, the executive director of USA Football, said in an interview at the organization’s annual convention here last weekend. “All of this is all about how do we do a better job, and a smarter job around the development of athletes and coaches in the game of football.”

USA Football has for years promoted a program called Heads Up Football to youth and high school coaches to combat safety concerns and declining participation. But research, endorsed by the organization, that showed Heads Up Football helped reduce concussions and other injuries proved to be misguided, a review by The New York Times found.

The group has also promoted flag football, which has no tackling, with success. Participation in the game, which is typically played by younger athletes, grew 8.7 percent last year, Mr. Hallenbeck said.

Even so, participation in tackle football by boys aged 6 to 12 has fallen by nearly 20 percent since 2009, though it rose 1.2 percent, to 1.23 million, in 2015, according to the Sports and Fitness Industry Association. Schools in several states — including in Maine, Missouri and New Jersey — have shut their tackle football programs because of safety concerns and a shortage of players.

The participation declines in tackle football are worrisome not just to youth football organizations like Pop Warner, but to the NFL, which sees youth football as a way to develop future fans and pro players. The NFL has given USA Football tens of millions of dollars to promote the youth game, and the league’s presence was felt at the convention, which was held just a few miles from where the Pro Bowl was played.

USA Football began exploring new ways to play the game in 2015. Unlike sports like baseball — which has a progression of levels, from T-ball up, suited to each age group — football had few alternatives to the flag and tackle versions. The new format, called modified tackle, is a way to give nervous parents an alternative. Coaches would also rotate players in different positions during games to give everyone a chance to carry the ball and avoid mismatches between large and small kids.

The first modified tackle scrimmages were held in September with youth teams in Cleveland. Chuck Kyle, the football coach at St. Ignatius High School, who ran the scrimmages, said that though much more work was needed to determine if this version of the game was safer, the initial evidence was positive.

“By bringing the field in, first of all, I think there’s better form tackling because less speed, less momentum, more one-on-one tackling,” Mr. Kyle said. “I didn’t see as many pileups, because there’s seven people” on a side, not 11.

USA Football is hoping that a few teams and leagues in different parts of the country test the game more formally this year. A national rollout of the game is still several years away.

Still, Mr. Hallenbeck made sure to introduce the concept of modified tackle to the more than 1,000 high school coaches and administrators assembled here. He said that youth football was at a “critical crossroads” and that the football community, which faces “adversity,” must work together to create a safer game with more alternatives for children and their parents.

Other keynote speakers, including former NFL coaches, players and team presidents, echoed Mr. Hallenbeck’s call to arms at the three-day event, saying the sport is under threat.

“There are a lot of geniuses out there that are diminishing football right now,” said Jon Gruden, a former coach of the Oakland Raiders and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who now works as an analyst for ESPN. “There are a lot of geniuses that are trying to damage the game, and ruin the game. Do you feel it? There are a lot of geniuses that want to eliminate all sports, including recess.”

“Not on my watch, and clap your hands if you’re with me on that,” he added, to loud applause.

Many attendees at the conference said they were receptive to the new format if it helped keep children participating and allayed parents’ concerns.

“The games are getting a lot faster and kids are getting bigger, so they need to modify the game so parents feel it’s safe,” said Paul Macklin II, who helps run recreation programs in Norfolk, Va. “We have to come up with new ideas.”

Medical experts and safe sports advocates were more skeptical. The brains of children grow at incredible rates, and repeated jarring blows to the head can stunt that growth, doctors say. While concussions are a concern, the larger danger to an athlete’s long-term cognitive health is the repeated sub-concussive blows like the ones that linemen absorb on nearly every play from scrimmage.

Several studies have shown that college and professional players who began playing tackle football as young boys have a greater risk of developing memory and thinking problems later in life than athletes who took up the game after they turned 12. Starting to play tackle football as teenagers is more prudent, doctors say.

“The earlier they started playing, the worse their brains fared later on,” said Dr. Robert Stern, the director of clinical research at the Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Center at the Boston University School of Medicine.

“To me, it makes sense we would want to do everything we can to reduce or eliminate purposeful hits to the brain,” Dr. Stern added. “But if the culprit is the repetitive hits to the brain, that’s the starting point for making changes.”

Terry O’Neil, the founder of Practice Like Pros, a group that advocates reducing collisions in youth football, was more direct.

“If there’s tackling, then it doesn’t matter if it’s seven on seven or one on one,” he said. “There’s going to be contact with the other players and the ground. With the science available now, we find it surprising anyone would be promoting youth tackle football in any format.”

Developing modified tackle, he added, is a way for USA Football “to suggest that boys of this age are not able to play the game as it was designed.” The solution, he said, is for boys to play flag football through junior high school.

Whatever the merits of modified tackle, the biggest obstacle may be hidebound football coaches and the parents who cling to the notion that football is football only if it is played on a 100-yard field by 22 children at a time.

“We’d get a rebellion if we tried this because so many people don’t want to be told what to do,” said Jon Butler, the executive director of Pop Warner, the largest youth football organization in the country. Introducing modified tackle football “is going to be by trial and error.”

Categories: test feeds

STMA Call for Presentations is now open

March 22, 2017

Share your expertise by being a presenter at the 2018 STMA Conference and Exhibition. The conference will be held in Fort Worth, Texas from January 16-19. Presenting at the conference is a great way to share research and experiences and also increase your visibility within the sports turf management profession. STMA is seeking engaging presentations in the areas of sports turf management, design and construction, environmental regulation and compliance, professional development, and new technologies and research. For information on what is required on the online form and to submit your presentation ideas, CLICK HERE.

The Conference Education Committee completes a thorough review of each presentation in order to give everyone equal consideration. Presentations that are not selected are shared with our SportsTurf editor Eric Schroder for possible use as an article.

Please complete and submit all the required materials by the March 24, 2017 deadline. Submittals will be reviewed by the STMA Conference Education Committee, and notification of selection will be sent out in early June. For any additional questions, please contact Kristen Althouse at kalthouse@stma.org.

 

Categories: test feeds

Industry concerned about failure to educate consumers about new fuels

March 22, 2017

A new nationwide research study of over 2,000 adults 18+ conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) has found that Americans seem to remain confused about new fuel choices at the pump and their appropriate usage. Even more concerning are reports of consumers mis-fueling their engine products. This year’s poll shows more consumers have incorrectly used an E15 or higher ethanol fuel in an engine not designed for it this year compared to 2015 (five percent this year vs. three percent in 2015).

The OPEI survey found that more Americans who own outdoor power equipment are paying attention to the type of fuel they use this year than in years past, with 44 percent saying they pay attention (compared with 36 percent in 2016 and 35 percent in 2015). Additionally, awareness of ethanol in gasoline seems to remain steady, with 84%, overall, reporting they are aware of that fact this year compared to 85% in 2016 and 84% in 2015.

“While most people seem to be aware that there is ethanol in gasoline, the poll results show increased mis-fueling. This raises big concerns as different ethanol content fuels become available in the marketplace,” said Kris Kiser, President and CEO of OPEI.

Over three in five Americans assume that any gas sold at fueling stations is safe for all of their cars as well as other, non-road engine products, like boats and mowers (63 percent in 2017, up from 60 percent in 2016 and 57 percent in 2015). This year’s poll also shows roughly two thirds of Americans believe higher ethanol blends of gas are safe to use in any engine (31 percent).

“Hundreds of millions of pieces of legacy outdoor power equipment products are in use today that are designed and warranted to run on E10 or less fuel. Remember E15 is unlawful to use, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). With higher ethanol blends available for sale, such as E15, E30 and E85, it’s up to all of us to educate consumers about selecting the right fuel for the right product. Consumers can no longer assume that what goes in their truck or car is right for their lawn mower, snow blower, chainsaw, generator or other piece of outdoor power equipment,” said Kiser.

U.S. government tests have shown ethanol’s harmful effects on outdoor power equipment not developed for fuels containing greater than ten percent ethanol. A Department of Energy study found that E15 fuel caused hotter operating temperatures, unintentional clutch engagement, erratic running, and engine-part failure.

In 2014, OPEI launched its “Look Before You Pump” program to help educate consumers on proper fueling and pointing out that the U.S. government has said it is illegal to use gasoline containing more than 10 percent ethanol in outdoor power equipment.

But concern about selecting the right fuel for the right product seems to be far from the minds of consumers. Price seems to continue to drive choice when purchasing gas. Most Americans (69 percent) admit to choosing the least expensive gas whenever possible (up from 63 percent in 2015).

Only one quarter of Americans (25 percent) notice the ethanol content at the pump while just over half (53 percent) take note of the octane rating.

Other findings include:

  • Just over half of Americans (55 percent in 2017, up from 50 percent in 2015) say they always read the labels on fuel pumps.
  • The same proportion (55 percent) claim they typically only pay attention to warning labels on the pumps if they say “Warning” or “Do Not Use In…”
  • Only 7 percent think that it’s illegal to use higher ethanol blends of fuel, such as E15, in engines such as those in boats, mowers, chainsaws, snow mobiles, generators and other engine products.

Another fueling mistake committed by roughly one third of outdoor power equipment owners (31 percent) is placing equipment into long-term storage without draining the leftover fuel out first. However, on the upside, 33 percent claim they have mixed fuel stabilizer in with the fuel for their outdoor power equipment. Other findings along this vein:

  • Nearly half of outdoor power equipment owners (48%) said they would put fuel that is more than 30 days old in their equipment.
  • The majority of outdoor power equipment owners (80 percent) say they always use a safe container when storing gasoline for their equipment.
  • Just over a third (35 percent) label the fuel storage container they use for their outdoor power equipment with the date they purchased the fuel.

Go to www.LookBeforeYouPump.com for safe fueling information of small engine equipment.

Categories: test feeds

Industry concerned about failure to educate consumers about new fuels

March 22, 2017

A new nationwide research study of over 2,000 adults 18+ conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) has found that Americans seem to remain confused about new fuel choices at the pump and their appropriate usage. Even more concerning are reports of consumers mis-fueling their engine products. This year’s poll shows more consumers have incorrectly used an E15 or higher ethanol fuel in an engine not designed for it this year compared to 2015 (five percent this year vs. three percent in 2015).

The OPEI survey found that more Americans who own outdoor power equipment are paying attention to the type of fuel they use this year than in years past, with 44 percent saying they pay attention (compared with 36 percent in 2016 and 35 percent in 2015). Additionally, awareness of ethanol in gasoline seems to remain steady, with 84%, overall, reporting they are aware of that fact this year compared to 85% in 2016 and 84% in 2015.

“While most people seem to be aware that there is ethanol in gasoline, the poll results show increased mis-fueling. This raises big concerns as different ethanol content fuels become available in the marketplace,” said Kris Kiser, President and CEO of OPEI.

Over three in five Americans assume that any gas sold at fueling stations is safe for all of their cars as well as other, non-road engine products, like boats and mowers (63 percent in 2017, up from 60 percent in 2016 and 57 percent in 2015). This year’s poll also shows roughly two thirds of Americans believe higher ethanol blends of gas are safe to use in any engine (31 percent).

“Hundreds of millions of pieces of legacy outdoor power equipment products are in use today that are designed and warranted to run on E10 or less fuel. Remember E15 is unlawful to use, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). With higher ethanol blends available for sale, such as E15, E30 and E85, it’s up to all of us to educate consumers about selecting the right fuel for the right product. Consumers can no longer assume that what goes in their truck or car is right for their lawn mower, snow blower, chainsaw, generator or other piece of outdoor power equipment,” said Kiser.

U.S. government tests have shown ethanol’s harmful effects on outdoor power equipment not developed for fuels containing greater than ten percent ethanol. A Department of Energy study found that E15 fuel caused hotter operating temperatures, unintentional clutch engagement, erratic running, and engine-part failure.

In 2014, OPEI launched its “Look Before You Pump” program to help educate consumers on proper fueling and pointing out that the U.S. government has said it is illegal to use gasoline containing more than 10 percent ethanol in outdoor power equipment.

But concern about selecting the right fuel for the right product seems to be far from the minds of consumers. Price seems to continue to drive choice when purchasing gas. Most Americans (69 percent) admit to choosing the least expensive gas whenever possible (up from 63 percent in 2015).

Only one quarter of Americans (25 percent) notice the ethanol content at the pump while just over half (53 percent) take note of the octane rating.

Other findings include:

  • Just over half of Americans (55 percent in 2017, up from 50 percent in 2015) say they always read the labels on fuel pumps.
  • The same proportion (55 percent) claim they typically only pay attention to warning labels on the pumps if they say “Warning” or “Do Not Use In…”
  • Only 7 percent think that it’s illegal to use higher ethanol blends of fuel, such as E15, in engines such as those in boats, mowers, chainsaws, snow mobiles, generators and other engine products.

Another fueling mistake committed by roughly one third of outdoor power equipment owners (31 percent) is placing equipment into long-term storage without draining the leftover fuel out first. However, on the upside, 33 percent claim they have mixed fuel stabilizer in with the fuel for their outdoor power equipment. Other findings along this vein:

  • Nearly half of outdoor power equipment owners (48%) said they would put fuel that is more than 30 days old in their equipment.
  • The majority of outdoor power equipment owners (80 percent) say they always use a safe container when storing gasoline for their equipment.
  • Just over a third (35 percent) label the fuel storage container they use for their outdoor power equipment with the date they purchased the fuel.

Go to www.LookBeforeYouPump.com for safe fueling information of small engine equipment.

Categories: test feeds

Thirteen facilities achieve STMA Environmental Facility Certification

March 14, 2017

STMA rolled out its Environmental Facility Certification Program in June 2016. Since that time 13 facilities have achieved the designation and eight more are ready to have their facilities attested.

The program involves a written assessment “self-test” that a sports turf manager fills out electronically and submits to STMA. As with its Certified Sports Field Managers’ program (CSFM), a passing score is 80 percent on each of its 10 sections. When that is achieved, the sports turf manager arranges to have his or her best management practices validated by an approved attester, who can be an academic in turfgrass management or a CSFM. The attester does a walk through of the facility with the sports turf manager and electronically submits confirmation of the environmental practices.

Facilities certified:

Ciudad Real Madrid (SPAIN) – Paul Burgess, CSFM

Elon University Athletic Complex (NC) – Scott Stevens, CSFM

Grinnell College Athletic Fields (IA) – Jason Koester, CGCS

The Gulfport SportsPlex (MS) – Keair Edwards

Longfellow Park – Park District of Oak Park (IL) – Travis Stephen

Minute Maid Park (TX) – Izzy Hinojosa

Pleasant View Athletic Fields (CO) John Cogdill

Prairie Ridge Athletic Fields (IA) – Elliott Josephson

Real Madrid Santiago Bernabeu Stadium (SPAIN) – Paul Burgess, CSFM

Red Bull Arena (NJ) – Dan Shemesh, Zack Holm

Red Bull Training Facility (NJ) – Dan Shemesh, Zack Holm

Ruby Hill Park (CO) – Abby McNeal, CSFM

USC Upstate Soccer Complex (SC) – Bruce Suddeth

 

Facilities currently attesting:

Allen Pond Park (MD) – Edward Hall, CSFM

Championship Field at Seattle University (WA) – Dean Pearson

Collins Perley Sports & Fitness Center (VT) – David Kimel

Green Farms Academy (CT) – Tom Barry

Hibner Soccer and Tennis Complex (NE) – Jared Hertzel, Blake Nelson

Peoria Sports Complex (AZ) – Alan Siebert, CSFM

Texas Rangers Baseball Club (TX) – Andrew Powers

University of North Carolina Greensboro Athletic Fields (NC) – Peter Ashe, CSFM

 

Categories: test feeds

Interview with Jonathan Calderwood, grounds manager, Paris Saint-Germain

March 14, 2017

Katie McIntyre from Sports Venue Business (http://sportsvenuebusiness.com) caught up with Jonathan Calderwood, Grounds Manager for Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) on Friday, just hours before the footballing behemoth took on Nancy in a 1-0 win on the perfectly primed and pristine turf at the iconic Parc des Princes; and before last night’s shock defeat against Barcelona at the Nou Camp. See photo and read interview here

 

Categories: test feeds

Pro sports flocking to Vegas

March 14, 2017

Spencer Gallagher was born and raised in Las Vegas, and the Xfinity Series rookie driver always thought something was missing. All around him, inhabitants of Utah, Arizona and Southern California got to watch and support teams from the major sports leagues.

“It was one of the things I felt I missed out in my childhood,” he said Friday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. “Growing up here, I never had a sports team to root for. I always had to find one somewhere else.”

That has changed.

The NFL’s Raiders seem ever-so-close to relocating here from Oakland. With the recent Bank of America financial aid disclosure — for the nearly $2 billion RaiderDome, or whatever it will be nicknamed — the likelihood of the approval of three-quarters of the NFL’s 32 owners if they choose to vote at the annual meetings in Phoenix in a couple of weeks appears more fact than fiction.

The NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights begin play this fall. Their home, the sparkling T-Mobile Center on the south end of the Strip, has been operating for less than a year. Last week, it was one of four city sites for NCAA basketball conference tournaments.

NASCAR got caught up in the week’s sporting whirlwind by announcing that LVMS will, starting in 2018, host two Monster Energy Cup Series races every year. Along with the one that has been run every March for 20 years, a September race will be added during the 10-race playoff.

“The whole sports scene here has been revolutionized, between getting a second date at the speedway, getting ourselves an NHL team, (likely) getting an NFL team to come here,” said Gallagher, 27. “I’ve always wondered, to myself, why such a big market like Las Vegas has never had a professional sports team. This is fantastic. I finally get a stadium to go to and someone to root for.”

Former UNLV basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian first gave locals a taste of the big time at the end of the 1980s and into the ’90s. There were barely half a million residents in the metro area when the Runnin’ Rebels drew overwhelming support. Thomas & Mack Center averaged more than 18,000 fans in three of those seasons. In the title-winning campaign of 1989-90, a record 303,597 patrons turned the stiles.

Today, the Las Vegas metro area boasts more than 2 million residents. In 2016, nearly 43 million people visited. Major players have noticed.

“I’m happy for this town,” said veteran race car driver and Vegas native Brendan Gaughan, 41. “Las Vegas has always been amazing. Right now, it’s the entertainment capital of the world. Well, what is the largest form of entertainment in America right now? Sports.”

Gaughan’s father, Michael, son of Las Vegas legend Jackie Gaughan, built the Orleans hotel and casino. The family provided a home to a minor league hockey franchise, the Wranglers, by attaching a horseshoe-shaped arena to the property. Previously, the lower-level Thunder had been popular and successful.

Steve Stallworth, who 30 years ago backed up quarterback Randall Cunningham at UNLV, managed Orleans Arena. He set the stage for today’s college hoops euphoria by signing defending national champion Florida and Kansas to play in his barn in November 2006.

In 2001, Nevada’s Gaming Control Board had eliminated the prohibition of betting on UNLV or Nevada teams in the state’s sports books. Pairing the Jayhawks and Gators against each other in an arena attached to a casino was another landmark event. Stallworth, who runs South Point Arena for Michael Gaughan, also happens to be a longtime Raiders fan. He daydreams about visiting tailgate bashes in RaiderDome parking lots in his custom black-and-silver golf cart with the huge eye-patch logo on the front.

Colorful former mayor Oscar Goodman also influenced the boom. He first met with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman in September 1999. And throughout 2004, Goodman promoted the transfer of the Montreal Expos to Las Vegas. He sauntered into baseball’s winter meetings, at the Hilton in Anaheim, Calif., with a showgirl, flaunting flamboyant feathers and other assets, on each elbow, an Elvis impersonator in tow.

A public relations whiz, Goodman always saw this sporting wave coming.

Mike Villa, 37, a real estate agent who vividly recalls attending those electric UNLV basketball games, is another die-hard Raiders aficionado. It will be a “straight-up fairy tale,” he said Friday at the track, the day his team becomes the Las Vegas Raiders.

“And RaiderDome will be the cherry on top, the crowning of Vegas as a global force. For someone born and raised in Las Vegas, it’s a mind-blower. My happiness is off the charts.”- by Rob Miech, USA TODAY

Categories: test feeds

Johnston Seed Company hires turf business manager

March 14, 2017

Johnston Seed Company recently announced the hiring of David Gerken as turf business manager in the company’s Enid, Oklahoma headquarters where he will lead the company’s efforts in product and market development of sod and turf seeds, and provide technical guidance and support.

Gerken comes to the Johnston Seed Company with more than 20 years of experience in the turfgrass industry, working on golf courses all around the U.S. Previously, Gerken was associate professor, turf management at Oklahoma State University – Oklahoma City, where he taught turfgrass management, advanced turfgrass management, irrigation and drainage design, irrigation maintenance and troubleshooting, horticultural soils and principles of horticulture. He also oversaw the daily operations of the Turfgrass Management Training Facility.

Gerken received his master’s degree in turf science from Oklahoma State University as well as a bachelor’s degree in agricultural education, vocational education and animal science from Kansas State University.

About Johnston Seed Company

Johnston Seed Company has over 120 years of experience in seed agriculture. The company has evolved into a supplier of seeds, as well a marketer of many end use products that are produced in Oklahoma and other areas of the world. Johnston Seed Company was the first to enter in to the propriety seeded bermudagrass production and marketing business. Today, Johnston Seed Company is one of the leaders in the growth of seed agriculture.

 

Categories: test feeds

How to focus your energy through daily distractions

March 7, 2017

With today’s digital age, we are constantly getting bombarded with texts, notifications and emails. So how do we stay focused at work and power through the day’s distractions? Here are four ways on how to focus your energy to get things done.

 

Categories: test feeds

Collaboration with STRI Group to enhance Auburn turf research

March 7, 2017

Auburn University is joining forces with the world’s leading sports turf consultancy to initiate research and development programs throughout the US sports surface market.

The agreement with the STRI Group will focus primarily on expanding the US soccer industry, as well as conducting surfaces research in other sports including golf, football, baseball and equestrian.

The collaboration aims to further enhance Auburn’s existing turfgrass and sports turf research facility, helping it become a center of excellence for innovations and emerging technologies in sports turf. AU will showcase cutting edge techniques and technologies such as grow lights, water management and reinforced turf systems.

“Working with STRI is a great opportunity to not only grow our research program at Auburn, but to also greatly enhance the educational content, internship experiences and job opportunities for our students,” said Dr. Scott McElroy professor in the College of Agriculture’s Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences Department.

Over the past 5 years, STRI has reinforced its position as a market leader in the sports surface industry. With its collaboration with Auburn, STRI secures a permanent presence on four continents, with further significant investments being made at its facilities in Australia, the United Kingdom and Qatar.

“STRI is thrilled to collaborate with such a forward thinking and well-respected university,” said Lee Penrose, STRI Group Director. “Together, our organizations will create the leading sports turf facility in the U.S., demonstrating the latest in international thinking.”

Categories: test feeds

75 liters of urine in swimming pools

March 7, 2017

A recent study from the University of Alberta, Edmonton offers definitive proof that a significant volume of urine is present in public pools – suggesting not only the occasional accident, but the regular practice of using the water to disguise bodily function.

Researchers have developed a means of estimating the volume of urine hidden in large amounts of water by measuring the concentration of acesulfame potassium (ACE), an artificial sweetener commonly found in processed foods.

Researchers then used the average concentration of ACE – which passes through the body unchanged – in Canadian urine to estimate an approximate volume of urine inside a larger sample of liquid, which the obtained from public pools.

Over a period of three weeks, researchers tracked the daily levels of ACE in two Canadian public pools and found that the concentration of ACE remained roughly the same, suggesting that the urine levels were being regularly maintained.

In one pool, measuring 830,000 liters or about one third the size of an Olympic pool, researchers found a regular volume of urine measuring up to 75 liters. In the second, about half the size of the first, they volumes up to 30 liters.

Researchers also tracked measurements from eight hot tubs, finding levels of ACE much higher than in the swimming pools. In one hotel hot tub, a sample showed a concentration of ACE three times higher than the highest level found in a swimming pool.

All in all, the study looked at 31 pools and hot tubs in various Canadian cities and found ACE present in every sample, with the highest concentration measuring 570 times the amount of ACE found in control measurements of Canadian tap water.

While scientists hope to use this research as a means of developing tests to ensure that urine in public pools is kept to a hygienic level in the future, researchers debunked the existence of a chemical that will produce a colorful cloud upon the detection of urine in the water.

Graduate student Lindsay Blackstock, the study’s lead author, told The Guardian, “This is a myth probably used to scare children, and adults, into using proper hygiene practices for fear of public humiliation.”-by by Courtney Cameron, Athletic Business

 

Categories: test feeds

SunTrust Park nearing completion with grass install

March 7, 2017

The Atlanta Braves’ new $672 million home in Cobb County finally has its ball field.

Over the weekend, long-time Head groundskeeper Ed Mangan installed about 109,000 square feet of grass from Bent Oak Sod Farm in Foley, Ala., at the 41,500-seat SunTrust Park. Both Seashore Paspalum grass and Platinum TE turfgrass were installed.

See slideshow here

Categories: test feeds

Maintaining Ford Center a costly endeavor

February 28, 2017

Here’s a riddle: What number is higher than the roughly $1 million in sales profit that Ford Center manager VenuWorks annually turns over to the city of Evansville (IN)?

It’s the $1.4 million-plus in city income tax money the Evansville-Vanderburgh County Building Authority anticipates spending this year to maintain the place. “Conversions” and the personnel needed to pull them off, sometimes in a matter of hours, are the biggest chunk of it. Erecting a basketball court for University of Evansville men and women’s hoops – or an ice rink for Evansville Thunderbolts games or a concert stage – requires Teamster labor and part-time workers. “Converting” from one to another and then back again, or one after another, can be a stern challenge in a $120 million, 290,000-square foot facility.

When events are jumbled together, as they were on the weekend of Jan. 20-22, a lot of coin gets spent in a little time.

Building Authority data indicates the agency spent $10,335 for Teamster and part-time labor alone to ready the Ford Center for a Friday night hockey game, then a Sunday afternoon UE women’s basketball game – then back to ice for a Sunday night hockey game. But that wasn’t the end of it. That Sunday night, after the hockey game, workers converted to a concert stage for the opening date of country music star Miranda Lambert’s “Highway Vagabond” tour.

“(Lambert) came in early to practice, rehearse before the show,” said Dave Rector, general manager of the Building Authority. “The concert wasn’t until that Thursday next, but she was in the building all week rehearsing. You could have seen her Downtown that week, walking her dog.”

According to 2017 projections for the Ford Center, VenuWorks anticipates giving $1,050,000 to the city after paying its own labor, concert act and other operational expenses at the arena. The Ames, Iowa-based venue management company’s total operating revenue at the Ford Center was $7.6 million-plus in fiscal year 2015, according to its most recent annual report. Operating expenses came to more than $6.6 million.

The $1,050,000 that VenuWorks projects it will give to the city balances against $1,448,946 that the Building Authority projects it will spend. The expenses also include $125,000 for a reserve fund for future major capital improvements to the arena and $166,000 for liability insurance and building security.

All you need is a calculator to see the numbers don’t come up roses – they show a loss of nearly $690,000. That’s about $100,000 more than last year’s loss. In fact, the Ford Center, which opened in November 2011, has posted a profit against operating costs only once since then – in its first year, when it was open for just two months.

The Building Authority’s $1,448,946 Ford Center budget is an increase of $70,000 over last year’s figure. Union labor isn’t the reason, Rector said. The agency employs five full-time Teamsters at the arena. The Ford Center’s Teamsters are governed by city government’s contract with Teamsters Local 215 – and the city didn’t give raises this year.

“Initially, because of city budgets, we have tried to get by with less than we needed – and fortunately for 2017, the city was able to give us a little more than they had to make up some of those expenses that we haven’t been able to in the past,” Rector said.

A hard sell

Rector pointed out that the Victory Theatre and Old National Events Plaza lose money too. It’s not unusual for municipal arenas to finish in the red.

“They’re all community assets for the benefit of the taxpayers, much like the zoo, the city parks, the library,” Rector said. “It’s community lifestyle enhancements.”

City Controller Russ Lloyd Jr. ticked off a list of factors working against the arena. The novelty of it has inevitably worn off a bit. Fans of the city’s sports teams can be capricious and naturally lose some interest when won-loss records get ugly. Lloyd recalled that the Evansville IceMen, who left town last year, routinely brought in thousands of people for hockey games even when attendance declined.

The Thunderbolts would make more money if the team could build up that potent a fan base, Lloyd said. VenuWorks would make money, and that would mean more would flow to the city. It all works in tandem.

“If (VenuWorks) would exceed what’s budgeted, then that loss would go down,” the former mayor said.

There is perhaps no one reason for losses, and a host of aggravating factors to point at.

VenuWorks’ financials indicate the biggest chunk of its $7.6 million-plus in total Ford Center operating revenue in 2015 came from events. That was nearly $3.5 million of the total, which also included food and beverage proceeds and money from suites and sponsorships.

Scott Schoenike, executive director of the organization, said concerts are much stronger revenue sources than the Ford Center’s tenants, the Thunderbolts and UE men and women’s basketball.

“Really, the concerts pay for an awful lot. We definitely need the concerts in there to almost help subsidize – I don’t know if ‘subsidize’ is the right word, but they definitely help the month along because the tenants – there’s not a lot of profit in the tenant contracts,” Schoenike said. “We have to make a few thousand dollars in concessions just to pay the labor.”

In losing one tenant – UE women’s basketball, which will move its games to the on-campus Carson Center next season – the Building Authority sees an opportunity to actually save money on maintenance and operations.

In Evansville, as is the case nationally, women’s basketball is a hard sell. Some of the Lady Aces’ games have drawn fewer than 100 fans to a venue that can host more than 11,000. Ticket sales are higher, but that doesn’t help the all-important concessions balance sheet. UE officials have acknowledged the Ford Center loses money with women’s basketball games, which bring little in terms of ticket sales, parking and concessions.

The Building Authority’s per-game costs remain fixed.

Rector has estimated his agency spends as much as $8,000 in labor and overhead for a UE women’s game if it requires a conversion. That includes everything – labor, transport fees to obtain natural gas, elevator maintenance, HVAC, lights, trash removal, janitorial supplies.

But the Building Authority chief is reluctant to say his agency will save $8,000 for every Lady Aces game that isn’t played.

“We didn’t know they were leaving when we drew that ($1,448,946) budget up last May, but other things have come up that weren’t projected that we didn’t budget for at that time too – like the Downtown hotel connector bridge and connector building, which I think will benefit the Ford Center more than Old National Events Plaza,” Rector said. “We put cameras on the bridge and in the connector building coming toward the Ford Center just in the last week and that wasn’t in our budget to do, either. Those other things may eat up the difference.”

The Building Authority knows one thing for sure. It won’t be burning lights for women’s basketball games, changing out restroom toilet paper and paper towels and converting for the games – just because there won’t be any. Rector said he “hopes” that spells savings.

Always something

The Ford Center’s operating cost deficit doesn’t include the $8 million a year the city coughs up for bond payments for the construction of the $120 million arena, the largest capital project in the city of Evansville’s history. City officials said in May that they had shaved $10 million off interest payments over the next two decades by refinancing the Downtown arena bonds, which will be paid off in 2039. The bond payment money comes out of the Downtown tax district, food and beverage taxes and Riverboat funds.

Rector knows keeping his agency’s maintenance expenses under control is as important a part of improving the Ford Center’s bottom line as is VenuWorks’ charge to sell more tickets to concerts and games.

“We’ve drastically reduced our conversion expense and our labor expense from what we started out (when the Ford Center opened in 2011). Starting out, we didn’t know how to convert and how long it was going to take from hockey to basketball to concerts,” he said.

In that first year, people piling into the arena saw off-duty policemen doing traffic control at every event. There are none at hockey games now – because the Thunderbolts aren’t getting enough attendance to justify it, Rector said. There may be six for basketball games and 12 to 18 for concerts.

But something always pops up – like the hotel connector bridge and connector building and cameras – to create more expenses. Maintenance climbed in 2013 in part because warranties in effect when the arena opened expired. The line item increased from $69,528 to $115,216 just like that.

Rector said conversions, when there is adequate time to do them, can require just a couple dozen part-time laborers working for five hours. When there’s just a few hours, as many as 45 workers get the call – but they can finish in three hours.

“So a quick conversion doesn’t cost all that much more because we’re getting it done in three hours,” he said.-by Thomas B. Langhorne, Evansville Courier & Press

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Why Valley Forge is banking on sports to lure visitors

February 28, 2017

For an investment of just under $50 million plus a modest annual operating subsidy, Montgomery County (PA) hotels and restaurants could see $100 million or more pour into their coffers within five years if a new multi-sport tournament-ready playing facility is built in the county.

To get the ball rolling towards that goal, the Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board held a kickoff news conference February 16th at Oaks Center Ice to mark the formal start of raising funds and soliciting proposals for a Valley Forge Sports facility.

The facility the group seeks to build would have 92 acres of indoor and outdoor space, including an outdoor adventure facility. The indoor component would have eight basketball courts, 16 volleyball courts, two conference rooms and a café and seating area. Outside, there would be four natural grass and eight synthetic turf fields along with a zipline / canopy tour, a pavilion and parking for 1,400 cars. The facility would have the capacity to host tournaments in sports ranging from soccer to lacrosse to field hockey to pickleball. (What’s pickleball? Glad you asked.)

“This area is screaming for a facility,” said Andy Carl, sports sales manager at the VFTCB.

The Oaks facility is the reason why hockey rinks are not part of the Valley Forge Sports proposal. The two-rink facility with café and function rooms is already capable of hosting regional hockey tournaments like the weekend-long MYHockey tournament, which was set to start the day after the press conference. VFTCB President Mike Bowman noted that tournament participants and their families will spend 11,000 room nights at area hotels during the event.

Lisa Karl, vice president of sales and strategic partnerships for the VFTCB, noted that sports tourism now generates $20o billion in revenue nationwide each year, a figure that’s 20 percent greater than it was three years ago. Youth and amateur sports events like the hockey tournament account for $9 billion of that figure, and it’s that segment of the market in particular that Valley Forge Sports wants to go after.

Carl noted that the VFTCB’s sports marketing team lost out on tournaments that could deliver $100 million in economic benefit to Montgomery County over the last five years because tournament organizers either left the county for facilities they considered tournament-ready or passed over their bids for similar reasons. Citing a study the bureau commissioned from Sports Facilities Advisory that recommended getting construction of a facility under way as soon as possible, he said, “Find a site, clear the land, build the facility, and we will fill it.”

And the participants and their families will fill the county’s hotels and restaurants in turn. According to the VFTCB, sports tourism already accounts for 47 percent of all the room nights booked in the county each year, a figure that would only grow with a comprehensive facility. And Karl noted in her remarks that sports tourism is recession-proof: “Parents will forgo their own leisure time plans to ensure that their children can participate in sports tournaments.”

No formal timeline for raising the funds needed to build the facility, whose cost is estimated to run between $35 million and $50 million, was announced at the event, but the Valley Forge Sports promoters are sure to start beating the bushes now just as they work to lure sports tournaments to Montgomery County.

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Research, innovation earns Hummel 2017 USGA Green Section Award

February 28, 2017

Honoring his distinguished service to the game of golf through his work with turfgrass, Dr. Norman Hummel received the 2017 USGA Green Section Award. Hummel, of Trumansburg, NY, received the Green Section Award at the USGA’s Annual Meeting and Service Awards in Washington, DC.

Hummel spent more than 40 years in the industry as an instructor, researcher and mentor, guiding golf course superintendents and other turfgrass professionals on a national and international level. He has taught hundreds of seminars, authored many research papers and has written more than 100 articles for the USGA Green Section Record and various trade publications.

“I was totally surprised and a bit dumbfounded when I got the call,” said Hummel. “Receiving this award is an honor and I am humbled, especially when you look at the list of past recipients. I’ve always considered myself to be a regular guy who showed up to work every day. Over the years, it has been a privilege for me to work with superintendents on some of the great golf courses in this country. Never did I think that my work and contributions would extend beyond the individual golf courses into something industry-wide.”

Read it all here

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Rock removal to add $270K to high school stadium cost

February 28, 2017

Crews working to build the new stadium at Williamsville South High School will have to remove nearly twice as much rock from the site as originally thought because it sits atop an escarpment, district officials said.

“Initially, we did a lot of pre-testing, and we had an allowance for rock removal of 2,000 yards,” said Thomas Maturski, assistant superintendent for finance and management services. “We have now exceeded that, and we still have another about 1,500 yards to go.”

If that sounds like a lot of rock, it also means a lot of cash. The extra work is expected to add $270,000 to the $8.3 million project, Maturski said.

At Williamsville South, the district is adding one synthetic turf field and building a new stadium with bleacher capacity for 2,700 people.

Other enhancements include new track and field stations, scoreboard, sound system, ticket booth, security fencing and five new tennis courts.

The School Board is expected to vote on the change order next month.

“We do have the money in our budget,” Maturski said. “We have a 6 percent contingency, so that’s not a budgetary problem.”

District officials are working with the project’s construction manager and architects to see if they can reduce the amount of rock that needs to be excavated for the stadium.

“We do not want to slow down because they’re actually doing very well and they’re on schedule,” he said.

The Williamsville South project was approved by voters in May 2015.-Joseph Popiolkowski The Buffalo News

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STC, other organizations want EPA study completed soon

February 23, 2017

Reacting to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s status report on its study of the possible health and environmental effects of crumb rubber athletic turf, two major organizations representing the synthetic turf industry urged the agency to complete its research as soon as possible in the new year.

“We cannot overstate the pressing need for the agency to share clear and concise findings as soon as possible in 2017 in order to provide answers and eliminate uncertainty for parents and policymakers,” the Safe Fields Alliance and the Synthetic Turf Council said in a joint statement.

On Dec. 30, the EPA issued its status report, 10 months after it agreed to collaborate with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry and the Consumer Product Safety Commission on a Federal Research Action Plan on synthetic turf.

“The purpose of the FRAP is to study key questions concerning the potential for human exposure resulting from the use of tire crumb rubber in playing fields and playgrounds,” the EPA said in the executive summary of its status report.

“This kind of information is important for any follow-up evaluation of risk that might be performed.”

The EPA said the work already performed under the FRAP includes:

  • Stakeholder outreach;
  • A review of tire and tire crumb rubber manufacturing processes;
  • A final peer-reviewed analysis of the literature on crumb rubber turf and gaps in knowledge;
  • Tire crumb rubber characterization and exposure characterization; and
  • A review of the use of recycled rubber tires on playgrounds.

In 2017, ongoing research under the FRAP will include analysis of tire crumb samples collected from fields and recycling facilities, as well as the exposure characterization component of the study, the EPA said. Parts of the exposure study may be conducted during the hotter months of 2017, it said.

Results of synthetic turf fields’ research will be available later in 2017, the agency said.

The Safe Fields Alliance and the Synthetic Turf Council said they feel assured that the results of the study will show no connection between crumb rubber and disease.

“Based on the more than 90 scientific studies that have already looked into the safety of synthetic turf fields and other surfaces with recycled rubber infill, we believe the answers are already out there,” they said.

The organizations noted a December 2016 statement from the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment that playing sports on crumb rubber synthetic turf is safe. The institute had sampled more than 100 synthetic turf fields in reaching this conclusion, they said.

“While we agree that the EPA should not sacrifice thoroughness for expediency, after nearly a year of study, the cloud of uncertainty is hurting businesses as well as jobs,” they said. “The science is evident, and it is time for the EPA and other regulatory agencies to bring clarity to the situation.”- By MILES MOORE

 

 

 

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Idaho professor says turf is better than grass for athletes

February 23, 2017

As the era of injury prevention in sports reaches new heights, an Idaho State University professor is at the forefront of injury research.

Instead of focusing on the athletes, equipment or the way athletes get hit, Michael Meyers, 60, is studying the surfaces they play on.

In 2000, at a high school football stadium in Abilene, Texas, Meyers saw one of the first-ever FieldTurf fields to be used by players at the high school level.

A researcher at that time, Meyers’ curiosity about the new style of artificial turf began to grow, especially after what he believes were a series of failed experiments in the 1970s with synthetic grass, which in many cases was just carpet laid out on concrete.

Tarkett Inc., the company that manufactures FieldTurf, built the brand around the slogan “looks like grass, feels like grass, plays like grass,” Meyers said. “I said, ‘that’s a pretty large brag right there. I want to find out if it’s true.’”

In 2004, Meyers, an associate professor of sports science and physical education, published a multi-year study comparing the occurrence of sports injuries on natural grass versus FieldTurf. His research, which focused on eight high schools that used either FieldTurf or natural grass, concluded that there fewer injuries on FieldTurf compared to natural grass, and that the injuries on the synthetic surface were typically less severe.

Two years later, FieldTurf officials reached out to Meyers and asked if he’d be interested in researching more of the company’s products.

Three decades of research

Meyers has been researching sports-related injuries for nearly 30 years. Throughout his career, he has studied a variety of sports and physical activities, from rodeo to dance to bungee jumping. But for the last 16 years, his focus has been on studying injuries that occur on grass compared to artificial surfaces in high school and collegiate sports.

“Two things professional organizations take into account is that as the violence of a sport gets worse, you have greater trauma,” Meyers said. “You’re not going to get as much trauma as you would in college football or high school football, but men’s soccer will have more injuries than women’s soccer. So the big issue wasn’t the number of injuries, it was what surface do you find them on.”

His latest study, “Incidence, Mechanisms, and Severity of Match-Related Collegiate Men’s Soccer Injuries on FieldTurf and Natural Grass Surfaces: A 6-Year Prospective Study,” was published in the Nov. 21 issue of The American Journal of Sports Medicine.

“Basically, what we found out with this study is that the artificial grass, specifically FieldTurf, is superior to natural grass in so many ways,” he said.

Meyers studied male soccer athletes from 11 NCAA Division I schools over six seasons. He evaluated 765 games for match-related injuries played on both surfaces.

The study nearly evenly split the number of games played on both surfaces. Overall, Meyers documented 722 injuries, with 268, or 37.1 percent occurring on FieldTurf, and 454, or 62.9 percent occurring on natural grass.

Meyers’ analysis also showed significantly less trauma for injuries that occurred on FieldTurf. Factors in the comparison included severity of injury, type of injury, time loss, player position, injury mechanism and situation, various environmental conditions, cleat design, turf age and elective medical procedures, among others.

A change in trends

One day, Meyers sees a future where natural grass is a thing of the past.

“Everyone is traditionally prone to natural grass when it comes to soccer, but as our new generations come up, they’re not going to remember what a grass field looks like because programs are moving toward artificial turf, whether we like it or not,” Meyers said.

He also believes some types of turf will be more effective than others.

In a separate study, Meyers looked at how the weight of turf surfaces influence athletic injuries. As the weight of turf increases, Meyers said the firmness of the surface and stability also increases. As weight increases, the density and thickness of the turf also increases, according to Meyers.

The study, published in 2013, looked at 52 high schools over four years and showed that as artificial infill surface weight decreased, the incidence of game-related high school football trauma significantly increased across numerous playing conditions.

If the weight of the turf surface is less than 6 pounds per square foot, Meyers said injuries can increase by more than 30 percent. This is because the consistency of infill is greater and provides more support to the athletes’ feet.

“That being said, the majority of fields, especially at the high school level, are 3 to 5 pounds,” Meyers said. “Why? Because there’s less infill, so they’re cheap.”

There are more than 30 companies competing in the synthetic turf market these days, according to Meyers. Because the FieldTurf brand has a majority of the market share, Meyers focused on it specifically for the study. He said the company also invented the infield turf systems most use today.

Meyers has also reached out to several other companies offering to research their product, but those companies have declined the offer.

Because he’s a teacher, Idaho State University supports about 60 percent of Meyers’ research and FieldTurf accounts for the other 40 percent. He maintains all of the data is his, and the company doesn’t receive any of it until his study is published.

Though some may claim his research holds bias, Meyers said his results are just a testament to the increase in safety technology, despite natural grass having a few advantages.

“If you can imagine, at the beginning of every season natural grass is brand new. Whereas the artificial turf sits out there, year after year, with UV rays and it gets pounded on,” he said. “In spite of that, and this study being at the NCAA level where they take very good care of their fields, we still saw significantly lower instances of injuries on the field turf than we did with natural grass.”

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Installing new synthetic turf at Tropicana Field

February 23, 2017

For the fifth time in 20 years, the Tampa Bay Rays will be installing a new playing surface at Tropicana Field that will replace the AstroTurf that was installed in 2011.  This new turf is supposed provide a firmer and truer surface and easier on the players.

The new system comes from Shaw Sports Turf one of the leading synthetic turf companies in North America providing quality and innovation. The Rays will be Shaw’s first Major League Team to use their product, which they will be paying for at a cost around $1-million, per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.

The main difference between Shaw’s turf and that of the current Astro Turf is that there will be a hard foam pad installed between the concrete base and the new turf. The under filling of the Astro Turf was comprised of fiber blades with a rubber in-fill system and did not always provide a true bounce, especially in the infield.

According to team president Brian Auld, the new surface will be better for the players’ bodies and play a little truer.

There will be no changes to the all-dirt infield or the dirt paths around the outfield, and will be a bit darker in color. Auld also said that it would feature a shallower fill that should keep the blades standing up, and create less splash when a ball hits the surface. In the past, when a hard hit ball hit the surface, you could see little pellets splash, looking as though the ball went through a puddle of water.

When Tropicana Field opened the doors for baseball in 1998, the “Devil-Rays” played on flat Astro Turf, no padding nothing at all underneath. In 2000, they switched to a more grass looking surface called FieldTurf, which they replaced and stayed with in 2007.  In 2011, as part of a sponsorship deal through Major League Baseball, the Rays installed Astro Turf.

“We continue to invest in Tropicana Field,” Auld said. “It’s our home and we want to make it the best venue we can for Major League Baseball.”

 

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