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Updated: 31 min 15 sec ago

Parks department asks to turf stadium infields

April 27, 2017

Joplin (MO) park officials would like to find the money to install synthetic turf in the infields of both Joe Becker and Wendell Redden stadiums.

Leslie Haase, the city’s finance director, told the Joplin City Council at a Monday night work session that turfing one or both of the fields “would help three purposes. It would decrease maintenance costs, reallocate staff time and increase the possible usage of the fields.”

This year’s parks staff is leaner than in past years. Six positions were cut or reduced in the department this fiscal year as the result of workforce reductions to balance the budget. The department lost three full-time jobs and three seasonal laborers who would normally help with spring and summer chores such as mowing and groundskeeping.

Additionally, there have been drainage problems at Joe Becker when heavy rains occur in summer. Last year, that caused the former Joplin Blasters professional team to cancel or delay games and play a couple of games at Missouri Southern State University.

Haase said city staff looked at various ways for the parks department to handle the workload, which now includes the addition of the new Mercy Park, “and this project would be at the top of their list” to help to do that.

Chuckie Bertocino said the department took bids for a variety of options for the two fields. That includes turfing each stadium’s infield, outfields and both sections of the field, along with alternative costs for maintenance.

They received bids from six turf companies. The lowest bid to turf the Becker infield only is $227,500. The lowest bid for the Redden infield is $252,649. Outfield turf for both the infield and outfield at Becker would cost $625,000.

Haase said the city is about halfway through the 10-year cycle of the quarter-cent parks and stormwater tax. Because some parks projects were donated to the city after the 2011 tornado and the city was able to use some of its own resources to complete some of the projects that were committed to the tax, she calculates there could be an excess of nearly $338,000 when the course of the projects is finished. The tax is in effect until 2022.

While the finance director did not recommend spending all of that excess at this point, she said part of it could be used to turf Becker field. But she would have to study the city’s fund balances and sources of funding to see if she could find a funding source to do the infields at both stadiums if that is the council’s preference.

She said she did not think she could find more than about $461,000 to turf both infields.

Council member Phil Stinnett asked if staff members had checked with Joplin High School, Missouri Southern State University and Webb City High School for references on the sellers those schools used and the turf products they installed. Haase said they had not.

The council said it would hear further information when funding sources are identified and those references are checked.

In other business, the council was told that more than 140 residents have participated in meetings on the various topics being explored by Vision Joplin 2022.

Clifford Wert, chairman of the effort, said that six committees and four subcommittees were formed to come up with recommendations for projects and initiatives that could be started within the next five years to spur growth and improve the quality of life in Joplin.

After giving the council a summary of the committee work that is being done on such topics as governance, healthy living, job growth and quality of life, he asked the council for input.

Mayor Mike Seibert opened the council’s discussion by thanking Wert and the other volunteers who have worked to develop a vision for Joplin’s future.

“This is exciting because this really can put this community in a new place in a very few years,” he said, with the input of the variety of residents and the ideas they are willing to share.

While individual council members were complimentary of the effort, they did comment on their concerns regarding what has already been discussed.

Council member Ryan Stanley said he did not want any recommendation for a multiuse center or mixed-use complex to have a fitness component that would compete with the programs and services offered by the Joplin Family Y and private businesses.

Councilman Gary Shaw said he would be concerned about any recommendation to reallocate funding for any existing project that was committed to voters as part of the parks and stormwater or capital improvements sales taxes.

He asked if the committee members have considered how to deal with challenges regarding deteriorating neighborhoods and community pride.

Wert said he is looking forward to seeing the city’s ability to address issues through its future priority based budgeting effort. He said that Vision Joplin is looking at more of a long-term plan.- By DEBBY WOODIN


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Parks and rec dept goes organic infill in Boca Raton

April 27, 2017

With football, soccer and lacrosse games year-round at Boca Raton’s Patch Reef Park, saving money on maintenance costs became a priority.

The solution?

The city is replacing the natural grass fields with a synthetic version, but opted for a more expensive organic turf as rumors swirl of cancer-causing chemicals in a popular synthetic turf that uses crumb rubber as a base.

The Greater Boca Raton Beach and Park District, which oversees the 55-acre park on Yamato Road west of Military Trail, has set aside $3.8 million to replace three athletic fields. But it wants to avoid more common synthetic grass made from crumb rubber base and scrap tires because it has been found by at least one study to have carcinogens, the commission told engineering consultants.

“I have a grandson that’s a goalkeeper and I don’t want him rolling around in a crumb rubber field,” said Robert Rollins, district commissioner.

A professor at the University of Stirling in Scotland found a number of carcinogens in crumb rubber, Forbes reported last year.

In 2014, one media outlet explored a possible link between crumb-rubber turf and female soccer players getting cancer, centered on Amy Griffin, an associate head coach for the University of Washington women’s soccer team. Griffin said several students who had played on the field had developed cancer.

That prompted a Washington State Department of Health investigation that found the cancer rate was not abnormal. That didn’t change any minds in Boca, though, even with higher costs.

“There’s a lot more expense to it,” Curt Keyser, director of engineering at Calvin, Giordano & Associates, told the district Monday. “The water consumption is tremendous.”

The organic turf will require high-powered pumps to water the fields manually, rather than automatically as it’s currently done.

The district also will stop using reclaimed water on the field. Enzymes in natural grass can break down bacteria, which is not the case for artificial grass, a Calvin, Giordano & Associates engineer told the commission.

“We haven’t been known to spare any expense,” said Arthur Koski, the district’s executive director.

Synthetic fields

Boca Raton is replacing natural grass at Patch Reef Park with a synthetic grass called organic turf. A look at the development of artificial surfaces:

  1. Astroturf

The first synthetic grass was placed over concrete in 1964 and was named “Astroturf” when it was installed in the Houston Astrodome in 1966. The fields were not popular with athletes because the thin layer was dangerous.

  1. Crumb-rubber turf

Developed in the early 2000s as an alternative to Astroturf, crumb-rubber turf was made with an infill between fake grass blades of small black crumb pieces that came from old tires. That gave the fields more cushion and prevented injuries.

  1. Organic turf

Also made from the same synthetic fibers that mimic blades of grass, the base is made from environmentally friendly material that can decompose. It is more expensive to maintain than the other two mainly because of water consumption.

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Oradell (NJ) opts to repair rather than replace

April 27, 2017

The borough has approved a short-term fix for fields at the Doug Parcells Athletic Complex, which have been closed to the public for the past three weeks.

The Borough Council authorized a deal with Natural Green Lawn Care for $34,768 on Saturday, opting to repair the playing surface rather than fully replace it. The improvements are expected to extend the life of the fields by at least a year, Borough Administrator Laura Graham said.

The vendor has told borough officials that repairs should not affect schedules for recreation leagues that start in the spring, according to a memo Graham sent out to league officials Monday.

The fields at the park on Ridgewood Avenue have been closed since Jan. 16, after a routine inspection revealed that areas of the synthetic surface were unsafe due to wear and tear. The turf was installed in 2005.


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Exploring new solutions for landfill covers

April 27, 2017

The products range from sustainable, aesthetically pleasing vegetative designs to multicomponent systems with engineered turf and sand that provide more performance predictability.

Increased regulatory demands on landfill operators are driving new innovations when it comes to landfill covers. Many are touted as having greater efficiency, requiring less maintenance, costing less and mitigating some post-closure concerns. The products range from sustainable, aesthetically pleasing vegetative designs to multicomponent systems with engineered turf and sand that provide more performance predictability.

Blackstone Environmental designed a system using trees and prairie grasses to pump water out of caps, which Mike Kukuk, the company’s president, says is more economical and sustainable than traditional prescriptive caps, and as effective at reducing water infiltration. Kukuk is among speakers who will be presenting at Landfill Innovative Cover Solutions session on Monday, May 8 at 12:00 PM at WasteExpo 2017 in New Orleans.

The product leverages a technology called evapotranspiration, which combines evaporation with transpiration (plants absorb water and release it through its leaves.)

“A lot of landfills are nearing 30-year post closure dates, and there will be more in the next 10 years or so,” Kukuk says. “Natural vegetation will enable the site to retain aesthetics and requires minimal maintenance when we walk away from it.”

There is no or little mowing required, and while resulting cost savings vary by region, at an early Kansas installation, Hamm Sanitary Landfill, costs were cut in half. It comes with multiple benefits tied to construction and design.

“It’s hard to compact clay on a three-to-one slope,” Kukuk says. “You have to put plastic over the clay and about a foot of good soil. Our cap uses loose soil so it’s easy [to install]. Also by creating a seed bed we enhance evapotranspiration, vegetation growth, and water storage, offering a method that is cheaper to construct and more sustainable.”

Leveraging the right vegetation is important. And there may be trial and error with soils with this relatively new concept.

“There are many covers out there with grass, but not many with trees … There is still more proving out to do in many states. But I think these caps will become more commonplace,” Kukuk says.

Watershed Geosynthetics has a patented final cover system that it says is more predictable in performance and cost than conventional soil covers, says David Cieply, vice president of Watershed Geosynthetics solid waste market of North America. He also will be presenting at WasteExpo.

Ultimately, the technology, called ClosureTurf, cuts post closure maintenance costs by 90 plus percent.

The three-component system includes a geomembrane layer; synthetic turf layer; and specified infill, usually of ASTM C33 sand.

“So you still have the geomembrane liner, but we replace the soil and vegetation with engineered turf and sand,” says Cieply, adding in addition to cost containment, among benefits are improved water quality and more airspace.

In their quest for improvements, the company developed a benchless design to eliminate the need for additional soil used to slow water runoff.

“This has translated to huge cost savings, not only because you use less soil but you do not have to maintain the benches,” he says.

The company has installed more than 45 million sq. ft. of ClosureTurf in over 20 states. The design best fits municipal solid waste and construction and demolition landfills as well as coal combustion residuals operations.

Use of exposed geomembrane covers has grown in popularity over the years, as these structures minimize leachate and control erosion and odor. But they must be able to stand up to harsh climate conditions. A system called Wind Defender has a new way to protect these caps—using aerodynamics rather than the existing system that leverages weights to hold them down.

“Traditional ballast systems include sandbags, ropes and other materials to hold covers down,” says Elliot Pugh, sales manager for Wind Defender who will speak at WasteExpo. “Our Wind Defender system ballasts and protects exposed geomembrane covers. It’s a knitted textile that aerodynamically diffuses wind uplift to prevent the membrane from becoming displaced.”

Pugh says the technology installs faster, is safer and less physically demanding to deal with than traditional systems, which typically require heavy sandbags to be hauled up slopes. And it blocks 60 percent of the ultraviolet rays from the underlying membrane, increasing covers’ lifespan.

“It’s low maintenance, so there are not a lot of repairs needed,” Pugh says. “And the technology stands up to the wind. We’ve experienced wind speeds over 100 miles per hours without failure.”

The Wind Defender system has been installed in over 500 acres throughout the United States and Canada.- Arlene Karidis

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Rich vs. poor in NFL relocations

April 25, 2017

The gap between rich and poor teams in the NFL has gotten so wide in recent years that three of the underprivileged franchises have taken drastic action:

In the past 15 months, the St. Louis Rams, San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders have decided to leave their home markets and move to cities that offered better stadiums and more local revenue potential.

By 2030, several more of the NFL’s low-revenue teams might face the same pressure: Do they risk shrinking financial margins as costs go up for all teams with rising player salaries? Or do they relocate to where they can better keep up with teams that have bigger markets or better stadiums?

That is the big issue boiling under the hot pot of NFL relocation, from the viewpoint of low-revenue teams, said Troy Blackburn, vice president of the small-market Cincinnati Bengals.

The revenue disparity between teams is “the largest it’s ever been in NFL history,” Blackburn told USA TODAY Sports. Even though teams equally share the revenues of NFL television contracts and a portion of ticket sales, they don’t share other local stadium revenues with each other, leading to the rising gap.

He said St. Louis, San Diego and Oakland essentially lost NFL teams because of this issue. If they had stayed where they were, he said they faced an increasing financial squeeze as player salary expenses continue to shoot up for all teams while revenues definitely do not. The salary cap this year is $167 million per team, up from $155 million last year and $120million in 2011.

Meanwhile, the gap between the highest- and lowest-revenue teams was $400million, the Dallas Cowboys at $700million compared to the Raiders at $300million, according to Forbes in 2016.

Making matters worse is how the salary cap is calculated as a percentage of the NFL’s total revenues, Blackburn said. The more revenue those rich teams take in at the top, the higher player salary costs climb for all NFL teams, including those at the bottom.

“Right now, you’ve got many of the small markets paying over 60-plus percent of their revenues on players, and many of the large markets are paying 40% of revenue on players,” said Blackburn, who previously was the team’s director of stadium development and is the son-in-law of Bengals owner Mike Brown. “Something that could be done that narrowed that gap would be helpful, and it would make it easier for the small-market teams to stay where they are and not have to explore relocation.”

More relocation?

Blackburn’s suggestion to relieve this problem is more cost-sharing, possibly with richer clubs helping pay more for player benefits, which are separate from the salary cap and include pensions, insurance premiums and disability benefits. This year such player benefits are $37 million per team.

Or perhaps the NFL could provide other assistance similar to the old G-3 loan program for stadium construction.

“If the league is serious about franchise stability, maybe it should consider a new G-3-styled program that would help keep teams in small markets,” Blackburn said. “If it did it once, it can certainly do it again, if it truly cares about the issue.”

Otherwise the tension mounts and more relocation might be considered as teams with older stadiums have leases expiring in the 2020s, such as in Jacksonville, New Orleans and Tampa Bay.

Blackburn said the Bengals are committed to Cincinnati and not looking to leave town when their lease expires at Paul Brown Stadium in 2026. It helps that his team received a $350 million stadium funded by a sales tax increase approved by voters in 1996. It also helps that his team received generous lease terms from Hamilton County, Ohio, which the team can extend an additional 10 years.

But as a small-market team executive, he still feels the pinch of the smaller-revenue economy, much of which stems from how the league does and doesn’t share its revenue and costs.

Old problem gets bigger

Tension over the revenue disparity isn’t new, and this is not the first time the Bengals have spoken out about it. Brown has been a leading voice about what he sees as structural financial imbalance in the NFL. On the other side of the spectrum, some owners have not been sympathetic to this argument. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones even has suggested that the low-revenue teams need to be more aggressive chasing dollars.

“The big concern I have is not how to equalize the disparity in revenue but how to get the clubs that are not generating the revenue to see the light,” Jones said in The Wall Street Journal in 2004.

Cowboys spokesman Rich Dalrymple said Jones wasn’t available to comment.

Not all small or big markets are the same. Big market and small market in this context also sometimes is used to mean the haves and have-nots: teams that are making big money because of big markets or lucrative stadiums vs. those that are not.

“You’re always going to have a bottom eight, but if you keep enhancing the bottom eight, and you change them out, that means everyone’s doing better,” said Marc Ganis, a sports consultant who works with NFL owners and helped the Rams and Raiders relocate from Los Angeles in 1995.

The difference this time is the widening of the gap, the rising costs for all teams and how to “change out” the bottom eight without having them consider more relocation, which is bad for loyal NFL customers in abandoned markets.

Much of the league’s revenue is shared equally among 32 teams, recently at around $225 million each. But the disparity has grown because of the revenues that teams are not required to share with each other — local dollars that are kept by the team that earns them, including highly lucrative stadium suites, advertising and sponsorships.

Costs go up for all

This unshared revenue creates a big gulf between teams with lucrative stadiums in wealthy corporate markets, compared to teams with outdated stadiums with fewer corporate customers willing to pay big bucks for sponsorships and suites.

“Let’s say, in New York, they can sell 250 suites at $200,000 per annum,” Blackburn said. “That’s $50 million per annum in suites. Well, in a smaller market — whether that’s Indianapolis, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Buffalo, Jacksonville — you’re not going to have 250 companies that can afford that. Let’s say you have 100companies and say they can pay $100,000, just as an easy example. These numbers are pretty close to reality. That would mean that small-market teams would get $10 million per annum from the luxury box sales, and the large markets would be taking in $50million every year.”

Likewise, Jacksonville isn’t going to get the same demand for national advertising or sponsorships as a team in New York.

This problem compounds for low-revenue teams because player salary expenses and the salary cap are determined by how much revenue the league makes collectively. Players are guaranteed 47% of the NFL’s total revenue over the course of the 10-year collective bargaining agreement from 2011, including combined local revenue. So as revenues rise for the big-market teams, so do player expenses for all teams. Teams also are required to spend at least 89% of the salary cap over a four-year period.

And that’s just fine for players and some franchises. But it’s a different story for the likes of Cincinnati and San Diego.

‘Real financial stress’

Blackburn traces the problem to the late 1990s and the rise of the NFL’s G-3 loan program, which provided financial assistance to teams building new stadiums. Big-market teams were offered bigger loans, with teams in the six largest markets eligible for league loans of up to 50% of private contributions, compared to 34% for other markets.

The idea was to take care of teams in the big TV markets, which drive the big TV contracts. For example, the New England Patriots were looking at moving to Hartford, Conn., but were persuaded to stay in the Boston area with the help of a $141 million NFL loan for the construction of Gillette Stadium. The stadium opened in 2002 at a cost of $325million, and now the Patriots rank No.2 in revenue at more than $500 million, according to Forbes.

This program arguably exacerbated the revenue disparity. Blackburn estimates more than $1 billion was issued to large-market teams to build new stadiums, including $300 million combined for the New York Jets and Giants to build and share privately financed MetLife Stadium, which opened in 2010. Each has more than $400 million in revenue and ranks in the top seven with Forbes.

“Those new stadia, in almost exclusively large markets, have created enormous revenues,” said Blackburn, whose team was in the bottom six in 2016, with $329million, according to Forbes. “Those enormous new revenues have driven the salary cap substantially higher. Those enormous new revenues in large-market stadia … have also created the huge spread in local revenues.”

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said NFL personnel weren’t available to comment.

Blackburn said the G-3 program has helped create “very real financial stress that now teams like the Rams, Chargers and Raiders are reacting to — and it does little good at this late date to say the league will also help build stadia in smaller markets where the revenues from those new stadia will be substantially lower. New stadia in Detroit, Jacksonville, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and St. Louis did not solve this problem.”

Even after community leaders in St. Louis put together a plan to build a new $1.1 billion stadium for the Rams, the Rams rejected it and moved last year to Los Angeles, where they are building a privately financed $2.6 billion stadium that will be shared with the Chargers. Before moving, the Rams said in applying for relocation they were not confident that a new stadium in small-market St. Louis “will secure the necessary corporate and fan support to sustain a NFL team long term.”

Teams keep losing ground

The Chargers and Raiders were offered $200 million each in NFL loans, plus another $100 million from the NFL to stay in their home markets. But it wasn’t enough.

The Chargers had a stadium that’s 50 years old in San Diego and wasn’t helping them keep up with rising player costs. They have the same salary cap as the Cowboys but have half the revenue: about $344 million, according to Forbes.

“Their problem was looking to the future,” Ganis said of the Chargers. “They were losing ground every year, as all costs rose but local revenues did not rise at the same rate.”

So they left for Los Angeles after 56 years in San Diego. Likewise, the Raiders couldn’t get an acceptable new stadium deal in Oakland and in 2019 will leave their 51-year-old stadium for a new $1.9 billion stadium in Las Vegas. Though Vegas is a smaller market, it offered a record $750million in public funding for the stadium — and a better path forward for team owner Mark Davis, if not fans in Oakland.

Fans and taxpayers understandably don’t have pity for the wealthy owners of these teams, even if they are not rich by NFL standards.

On the other hand, these teams didn’t see a better alternative for their businesses. The Chargers tried to get a new stadium in San Diego, but voters last year rejected a proposal to support it with taxpayer money. Without such public subsidies, the corporate wealth of the smaller San Diego market wasn’t enough to help privately finance a suitable new stadium, unlike in L.A., according to the team.

In L.A., the Chargers will be in a wealthier market where more suites can be sold at a higher price.

“The challenges that are out there remain more in the growth of the salary cap, and that has been driven up by the new stadia in the larger markets,” Blackburn said. “And that’s exactly what the Chargers were looking at and the Raiders were looking at and the Rams were looking at.”-by Brent Schrotenboer, USA TODAY


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Seismic celebrations present concern over safety in stadiums

April 25, 2017

With his team leading 34-30 in the final minutes of a Wild Card Playoff game against the New Orleans Saints in 2011, Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch took a handoff and exploded through the hole, beginning what would turn out to be a 67-yard touchdown run.

Odds are as Lynch was sealing the victory for the Seahawks against the defending Super Bowl Champions, nobody in the stands was worried about the structural soundness of CenturyLink Field.

Sitting a few thousand miles away on a tiny island at North Tonawanda, NY, just outside of Niagara Falls, Douglas P. Taylor, CEO of Taylor Devices (, no doubt looked at Lynch’s run through a different lens than most Seahawks fans that day.

Taylor’s daily job involves controlling and stopping the movement of masses. No, he’s not a linebacker, he’s an engineer, and his company manufactures seismic dampers that protect structures during such events as earthquakes and high winds.

As Lynch rumbled down the sideline for the game-winning touchdown, something else was rumbling in Seattle that day. Lynch’s run led to such a frenzy in the stands that jumping fans caused a 1.0 earthquake to register at the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network.

Lynch helped set off seismic alarms again in 2014 on touchdown run, and football fans of another sort on the other side of the pond got into the act earlier this year, causing what amounted to a 1.0 Earthquake in Spain in celebration of an FC Barcelona win.

Taylor’s firm wasn’t involved in the construction of either facility in Seattle or Barcelona, but it was heavily involved with BC Place, a new stadium in Vancouver, and Safeco Field, the retractable roof stadium that serves as the home of the Seattle Mariners.

“Those who are going to sporting events should be made aware that technology already exists to protect a structure and its occupants during wind and seismic events,” Taylor says. “My hope is that a fan’s biggest worry is the score of the game and not whether the stands around him are going to collapse.”

Of Major League Baseball’s 30 stadiums, 18 were built in 1995 or later, with five of those opening in the past decade. When play opens on the 2017 NFL season, 10 of its stadiums will have opened their doors in 1994 or earlier, with the remaining 21 opening in 1995 or later.

“Any stadium in a high seismic zone that was designed before 1995 probably does not meet the updated seismic codes,” Taylor says. “For stadiums subject only to high winds, older designs may well meet the current codes. However, these codes usually only provide a structure that won’t totally collapse.

While certain weather and nature-related phenomena such as hurricanes and snowstorms can be identified by meteorologists well in advance to postpone games, there is no early-warning system for an earthquake.

Several professional stadiums – not to mention a large number of college football stadiums – are near fault lines in California and in the Midwest.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, there is a seven to 10 percent chance an earthquake magnitude 6.0 or higher will strike in the next 50 years along the New Madrid Fault Line in the Midwest. California on the other hand – the current home of five MLB teams and four NFL teams – is staring down the barrel of a gun ready to fire off a 7.0 magnitude earthquake or higher at any time.

“The northern part of the state is long overdue for a powerful earthquake (7.0 or higher) along the San Andreas fault,” Taylor says. “San Diego and Los Angeles aren’t safe either. A new fault line was discovered in the Southern part of the state earlier this year that could cause an earthquake as powerful as 7.4 on the Richter scale.”

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Renovating coliseum in Memphis worth the money?

April 25, 2017

After the city shut down the Mid-South Coliseum in 2006, an idea took hold in Memphis.

The arena was too far gone and too costly to both fix up and renovate for access by people with disabilities.

Now a save-the-Coliseum group insists a redo of the old white-domed landmark would not be too expensive.

“The previous administration led people to believe the Coliseum is in horrible shape and should be torn down. We found that to be absolutely not true,” said Memphis architect Charles “Chooch” Pickard, referring to Mayor A C Wharton’s administration.

Pickard worked on a private study last year carried out by professionals that estimated arena upgrades would cost $23.8 million.

That figure is likely to become a key point in the coming months as the City Council and Mayor Jim Strickland’s administration consider redeveloping the Fairgrounds’ fields and the arena next door, built in 1964 near Southern and Parkway.

An original Fairgrounds redevelopment plan proposed $233 million worth of work turning those fields into a youth sports complex serviced by stores, restaurants, a hotel and a single-story structure called a multi-purpose building replacing the old arena. The project was to be financed by sales tax revenue collected in a wide swath of Midtown.

At $233 million, it would have been the third most expensive public project undertaken by the city – trailing the $200 million Pyramid overhaul for Bass Pro Shops and the $235 million construction of FedExForum.

In a city worried about its tax base, any discussion about the Fairgrounds has to begin with what is the best use of public money.

In a town where the police officer’s union rents billboards advertising the homicide rate and the shortage of uniformed officers, is it a good idea to devote future tax revenue to redevelopment of the Fairgrounds?

Pickard contends it makes more sense to turn the Fairgrounds into a revenue-generating attraction than continue the city’s $57 million redevelopment of the faded Raleigh Springs mall.

“How can we not have a conversation about the Coliseum and go ahead with Raleigh Springs?” Pickard said. “I’m surprised the current administration did not put a halt to that and still say there’s not money available for capital projects.”

Whether the Fairgrounds is a worthy project for a makeover isn’t clear but is certainly worth thinking over, especially in light of the recent Pyramid renovation.

Sales taxes gathered Downtown are paying off the loans used to overhaul the Pyramid. Memphis finally drew a useful tenant in the old arena, which opened in 1991 to replace the Coliseum and was itself replaced by the FedExForum.

But Bass Pro clearly has not funneled visitors into the center city’s hotels, bars, restaurants and museums as was envisioned when the planning for the tourism project began a decade ago.

Had the city left the Pyramid shuttered, the sales taxes financing the overhaul instead might have upgraded the Memphis Cook Convention Center and a related hotel on the scale of Nashville’s new convention hall.

Would a new convention hall have been a better use of $200 million to ramp up the hospitality industry?

Or how about using $200 million for a city-led buyout of vacant 100 North Main?

After taking control of the 38-story skyscraper, the city could provide cheap office space to every trade association in the world that would move here. That would lead to more airline passengers, hotel bookings and demand for the convention hall.

Or how about spending $200 million to fix up neighborhoods, or loan to small entrepreneurs or advertise the city to millennials in New York, Seattle and Atlanta?

Or how about not spending any of the $200 million so there’s some tax base there to help carry us through the next recession?

It’s not clear what is the best use of this $200 million might be, but it is clear this is a good time to starting talking about what to spend it on in a city strained for resources.

Pickard makes the case for the Coliseum this way: Get the Memphis Grizzlies to move their training team out of the Landers Center in suburban Southaven and get the Grizzlies owners, who include a bevy of Memphians, to revise the non-compete contract that governs the FedExForum.

The contract lets the Grizzlies operate the 22,000-seat Downtown arena. But concerts too small for the big arena are showing up in Landers Center, even though they could easily fit into the 11,000-seat Coliseum, he said.

When the city billed the Coliseum as too dilapidated to use, Memphians stopped thinking about new purposes for the old arena.

The Coliseum Coalition performed its study last summer, estimating a $23.8 million renovation, Pickard but held off from revealing the details until Wiseacre Brewings’ deadline expired this week and the Memphis startup revealed it was not ready to proceed with putting a brewery in the Coliseum.

“We need to be redeveloping the core of the city,” Pickard said. “One reason we can’t afford police and fire is because we’re so spread out right now as a city.”- by Ted Evanoff, The Commercial Appeal, Memphis. Ted Evanoff, business columnist of The Commercial Appeal, can be reached at and (901) 529-2292.

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Want to market to India? This show is for you

April 25, 2017

Sport India 2017-“5th India International Sporting Goods Show will be held August 22-24, 2017 in New Delhi, India. This international exhibition on Sporting Goods, Accessories, Sports Wear, Fitness Equipment, Adventure Golf, Sports Infrastructure, Amusement, Sports Wellness, Sport Science, Raw Materials & Sports Goods Making Machinery, Technology, & Allied Industries will be held at Pragati Maidan.

“We are engaged in the development of sports and MSMEs in the sports goods sector for at last several years and provide platform to the small scale industry to promote their products through the buyer seller meet and trade exhibitions and sport activities with continuously this aim and create a bridge between buyers and suppliers of Sports Industry,” says the announcement.

Sport India 2017 is a b2b and b2c business platform for the national and international sporting goods, sportswear and equipment manufacturers to find out the new business opportunities in India. This event is a great opportunity to network with sports Industry. The event will present a wide range of products and services pertaining to indoor, outdoor sports and adventure sports

Sports is highly developing sector in India and there is a good business opportunities for national and international sporting goods manufacturers and service providers. Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports, govt. of India, State Governments and around 70 sports federations are involved for the development of sports in India. There is a huge demand of sporting goods, equipment and services in Indian Sports Industry and a big network of the distributors, dealers, suppliers, Importers, end users of sporting goods is looking for the latest’s products and technology from India and other part of the world.

Sport India is supported by various trade associations, chamber of commerce like National Small Industries Corporation Limited (NSIC) under Ministry of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprise, Govt. of India, All India Sports Goods Manufacturers Federation, Sports Academy Association of India, Process cum Product Development Centre (PPDC), under Ministry of Micro Small and Medium Enterprises, Govt. of India, Crossbow Shooting Association of India, Big Bore Air Rifle Shooting Association Of India, All India Pickle ball Association, Professional Golf Tour of India,  Rajasthan Sports and Fitness Dealers Association, Physical Education Foundation of India

We are inviting manufacturers, suppliers, Distributors, Retailers, Importers, Exporters, International buyer, Coaches, judges, Instructors, Stadiums, Playgrounds, Sports Academies, Sports Clubs, Sports Players, Sports Authorities, School, College, Universities, Hotels & Resorts, Builders and Developers, Hospitals, Military, Police & Para Military forces, IT & ITE’s Companies, MNC, PSU’s and big corporate houses, Central and state ministries, sports ministries, Embassies, International Trade promotion bodies, National sports federations, sports councils,  national players, International sports Federations,  Sports Goods Manufacturers  Associations, State Govt.- Sports Departments, National and International Business Chambers of Commerce, under one roof for three days

We assure that Sport India 2017 will help to grow your domestic and international business. We would like to invite your company participation to showcase your strength, new initiatives, and products and interact with your potential buyer at this platform in India. Your quick response will be highly appreciated. Event Brochure is attached here for your kind perusal.

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TPI awards individuals for their contribution to the turfgrass industry

April 18, 2017

Turfgrass Producers International recognized several deserving individuals during the association’s 2017 International Education Conference & Field Day. Among those honored during TPI’s 50th Anniversary Banquet at the Saddlebrook Resort in Tampa, FL were:

Dr. Clint Waltz, University of Georgia and Dr. William Meyer, Rutgers, University were both the proud recipients of TPI’s Turfgrass Educator Award of Excellence. They were both recognized for their contribution to TPI and its members in addressing turfgrass questions and concerns and for their involvement in research and/or programs that help to promote the benefits of turfgrass and build awareness.

Michelle Williams of SiteOne Landscape Supply was both honored and surprised when it was announced that she was the recipient of TPI’s Distinguished Service Award. Williams was honored for her commitment and dedication to the association and the green industry for well over a quarter of a century.

Ken Ensor, inventor of the Donkey Forklift and founder of Quality Corporation was the recipient of the Innovator of the Year Award.

Ray Weekley of Chantilly Turf Farm received TPI’s Honorary Member Award. In presenting the award to Weekley, TPI’s President, Linda Bradley commented, “Ray is an innovator, an entrepreneur and a visionary in the turfgrass industry.”

Bob Weerts of Blue Valley Sod was the surprised recipient of the President’s Leadership Award in recognition of his steadfast commitment, dedication and contribution to TPI for more than three decades. Upon presenting the award, Bradley commented, “The President’s Leadership award is given to someone who has shown exemplary dedication and performance to TPI, an ambassador. Ambassador is defined as someone who represents goodwill, is diplomatic, superbly engaging, can easily relate to others, maintains high standards for the betterment of all. As we celebrate our 50th Anniversary we want to honor Bob Weerts, who truly exemplifies Leadership.”

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New stadium in Atlanta has latest technology

April 18, 2017

Even the Chick-fil-A cow has gone high-tech at SunTrust Park.

Rather than holding a hand-painted sign, as the iconic fiberglass-and-steel cow did at Turner Field, it holds an electronic LED board at the new stadium.

That is a not-so-subtle symbol of how technology has been ratcheted up in all corners of the Braves’ new home.

The Braves promise fans the fastest WiFi service of any stadium in the country, as well as a deep lineup of video, lighting and sound effects.

“This is the next generation of ballpark and stadium presentations,” said Greg Mize, the Braves’ director of digital.

The challenge might be to stop short of overwhelming the game and disorienting the fans with all the new bells and whistles.

“We’re not looking to wipe the slate clean and start anew because there are elements our fans relate to and expect,” Mize said. “But the strategy is how to use all these toys at our disposal to really take it to the next level.

“There will be noticeable differences when people get here on opening day in what happens after a home run, what happens after a Braves victory. At the same time, there will be elements of the game presentation that will not change. If you’re going to a Braves game, you know you’re going to do the tomahawk chop.”

And for most fans these days, you know you’re going to use your mobile phone.

The Braves and technology partner Comcast have pledged for years that the stadium will end the connectivity frustrations that fans often experience at large sports venues.

How well they have delivered on that pledge will be answered immediately, with a sold-out crowd expected to pack the park for Friday night’s home opener against the San Diego Padres.

“Probably the simplest way to describe it is that at SunTrust Park the days are gone of trying to upload a photo to Instagram or get your email or text someone and not having all those go through,” Mize said.

Comcast Cable director of product management Eric McLoughlin said the stadium opens with dual 100-gigabit Internet bandwidth, a total of 200 gigabits, which he described as “unheard of from any other stadium that is out there.”

“Really, what 200 gigs means is if everyone at the game wants to be on their phone — whether it’s to upload a photo, watch a video — at the same time, that’s going to be able to happen,” Mize said.

By comparison, the San Francisco 49ers’ Levi’s Stadium, widely considered the nation’s most technologically advanced sports venue since its opening in 2014, became the first stadium with 40 gigabits of available bandwidth.

The 41,149-seat SunTrust Park has 800 WiFi hot spots, plus another 300 in the adjacent mixed-use development, McLoughlin said. More than 250 miles of fiber optic cable run throughout the stadium and The Battery Atlanta.

McLoughlin anticipated the next question.

“So why should a baseball fan care that they’ve got this incredible technology?” he said. “I am a self-described huge baseball fan. I follow stats, I follow the division standings, and if I’ve got access to information while I’m sitting in the stands watching my team play, that gives me information I’m really interested in.”

He compared it with the days when his father and grandfather would take transistor radios to games and listen to the broadcasts for additional information about what was happening on the field.

“We have that capability (via smartphones) with streaming,” McLoughlin said. “The capabilities of streaming whatever content you want to help enhance the game experience, that’s really the key.”

He suggested one potential application in the near future: augmented reality in which fans can point on their mobile phones to a certain position on the field and get live statistics for the player standing there.

Beyond connectivity, technology touches many parts of the new ballpark.

The “BravesVision” video board, which is 121 feet wide and 64 feet tall, and the other screens will be operated by a game-day staff of 30 in the stadium’s control room. Screens include a 90-by-30-foot out-of-town scoreboard beyond left-center field, two 90-by-6-foot displays above the bullpens and a giant baseball sculpture wrapped in a spherical LED display in the plaza that connects the ballpark and The Battery.

Four water cannons in the “batter’s eye” area beyond center field are programmed to shoot 2.8 gallons of water 50 feet into the air when a Braves player hits a home run, the team wins a game and the like.

And the lights, which turn on and off instantly, will be used for dramatic effects, such as celebrating big plays and varying the glow color of the large canopy that overhangs the upper deck.

“With old stadium lights, you had to take time for them to come on,” Mize said. “With these LED lights, there is a lot we can do as it relates to player introductions and certain plays in the game. When the Braves hit a home run, the lights can sparkle, the lights can chase. … We’re programming all of that to the point that it takes one push of a button.”

Some Braves players expressed concern about some of the experimentation with the lights during the March 31 exhibition game against the Yankees, such as when the lights flashed after a strikeout of an opposing batter.

Mike Plant, the Braves’ president of development, acknowledged the use of lighting is a work in progress with “a long way to go on that yet.”

Similarly, the new sound system provides the ability to play with stereo effects.

“We’re still exploring how to do all these things,” said Derek Schiller, the Braves’ president of business. “We’ve got this great new ballpark with all these bells and whistles, and we’re still trying to figure out how to use them effectively. The technology here is extremely complex.”

The Braves have pushed hard for fans to use technology before they arrive at the stadium, too, by purchasing tickets and parking passes in advance and finding their way to their specific parking lots with the Waze navigation and traffic app.

Inside the stadium, the Chick-fil-A cow looks over the field from a light tower beyond right field. Its LED screen displays rotating Chick-fil-A messages and can play video.

But the cow’s new position and electronic sign came with a trade-off: It no longer is equipped to do the tomahawk chop.- by Tim Tucker, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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North Dakota athletic department losing money

April 18, 2017

The University of North Dakota recently cut women’s hockey, citing the sport’s recent $1.9 million operating deficit during tight budget times for the university and state.

But UND women’s hockey isn’t the only athletic program running an operating deficit at the state’s two Division I universities.

In fact, every sport in 2016 at UND and North Dakota State University spent more money than they brought in.

And, yes, that includes UND men’s hockey and NDSU football, the crown jewels of college athletics in North Dakota.

Both programs ran significant deficits, according to the annual financial report each school is required to send to the NCAA. NDSU football had revenues of $4.5 million and expenses of $4.7 million, coming up about $201,000 short. UND men’s hockey had total operating revenue of $4.3 million and expenses totaling $4.5 million, a loss of about $163,000.

That doesn’t mean football is not a moneymaker at NDSU. Athletic Director Matt Larsen said some corporate sponsorships or donations that are a result of football aren’t necessarily reflected in the football revenue stream reported to the NCAA.

“So does it give you a pretty good guide?” Larsen said. “Yeah. But is it 100 percent indicative of every revenue and expense for each one of them? Not 100 percent and a lot of that is based on the way the NCAA requests the information and the way we put it in there. I think part of the public perception that is probably more accurate than not is a large part of our revenue is directly or indirectly driven from football.”

Revenues for NDSU football included $2.4 million in ticket sales, $1.2 million in contributions and $529,000 in student fees. The top expenses were $1.6 million in coaching salaries, $1.3 million in athletic student aid, $718,000 for travel, $202,000 for game expenses, $146,000 for recruiting and $123,000 in athlete meals not associated with travel.

At both universities, the portions of their athletic department budgets not tied to individual sports were well into the black. Non-specific revenue versus non-specific expenses in 2016 was $10.4 million at UND and $6.6 million at NDSU, helping balance out the deficits each individual sport carried.

But it still wasn’t enough to balance the budget at UND. According to the NCAA reports, UND’s athletics department on the overall lost $1.4 million in 2016. At NDSU, the athletics budget ran a surplus, with nearly $1.8 million in revenue more than expenses.

The cost of collegiate sports programs emerged as an issue in North Dakota when UND dropped women’s hockey. The school reported the women’s hockey program lost $1.9 million in 2016 on operating expenses of $2.1 million and revenues of $212,000.

UND men’s hockey reported revenues of $4.3 million and expenses of $4.5 million. Football at UND had the largest gap with revenues of $1.8 million and expenses of $4.1 million.

UND Athletic Director Brian Faison was out of the office and not available for comment late this week.

Women’s basketball had the largest deficit at NDSU at about $687,000. Revenues totaled $491,000 and expenses $1.2 million.

“The biggest opportunity for us from a women’s basketball standpoint, because we charge, is to increase ticket revenue,” said NDSU’s Larsen. “We’ve seen historically when the program is successful we can draw fans for women’s basketball. That’s the hope as we improve the product on the floor, you’ll start to see that reflected in attendance and ticket revenue.”

NDSU tries to make up for the expense differential in a variety of ways, such as its Team Makers booster club, advertising, corporate help, media revenue and licensing.

Football, certainly, plays a large role in all of those factors. For instance, if the school receives $800,000 in licensing as the result of shirt sales, it’s impossible to specify how many of those shirts had a football reference on them. In the NCAA report, those revenues fall under a “non-program-specific” line item.

“And that’s how we fund the balance of the revenue that supports all of our expenses,” Larsen said.- by Jeff Kolpack, The Bismarck Tribune

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How exercise impacts the brain

April 18, 2017

It’s 5 a.m. and your alarm goes off. You immediately begin the battle of whether to get up and exercise or not. You know you’ll feel better if you do, but why? This is your brain on exercise.

The reason that we feel so good when we exercise and get our blood pumping and our muscles firing is that it makes our brain feel good. Essentially, building muscles and conditioning the heart and lungs are bi-products or side effects from exercise as there is a biological relationship between the body, the brain, and the mind.

It can be said that a key point of exercise is to build and condition the brain. The relationship between food, physical activity, and learning is hardwired into the brain’s circuitry and therefore to keep our brains at peak performance, our bodies need to work hard.

The reason physical activity is crucial to the way we think and feel is because moving our muscles produces proteins that travel through the bloodstream and into the brain. The brain then responds like muscles do, growing with use and withering with inactivity.

At the risk of being too scientific but more specific – exercise balances levels of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine, which are all important neurotransmitters that traffic thoughts and emotions. Neurotransmitters tell your heart to beat, lungs to breathe and stomach to digest. Serotonin influences mood, impulsivity, anger, and aggressiveness. Norepinephrine amplifies signals that influence attention, perception, motivation, and arousal while dopamine improves mood and feelings of well-being.

Also, heavily affected by exercise are neurotrophins. Neurotrophins are proteins secreted in the brain during exercise that can signal the survival, development and function of neurons. Neurotrophins such as BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) signal cells to survive, mature and grow. BDNF gives synapses (junctions between nerve cells) the tools they need to take in information, process it, associate it, remember it, and put it in context. It is also a necessary ingredient for making new cells where it gathers in reserve pools near the synapses and is unleashed when the blood gets pumping … with exercise! It is like fertilizer that encourages neurons to connect to one another and grow.

While aerobic exercise elevates neurotransmitters (serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine), and creates new blood vessels that pipe in growth factors (neurotrophins) and spawns new cells, complex activities like dancing, swimming and cycling put all that material to use by strengthening and expanding networks.


Everything we do, think and feel is governed by how our brain cells, or neurons connect to one another. The brain has the capacity to regenerate and grow throughout our entire lifespan, and exercise is conceivably the most compelling way to ensure your brain’s continued growth and rejuvenation.- by Angie Ferguson, Evansville Courier & Press (Indiana)

Angie Ferguson is an exercise physiologist from Fort Myers, Florida. She is a USA Triathlon Advanced Level 2 coach, Ironman Certified coach, Slowtwitch Certified coach, USA Cycling coach and has a Specialty in Sports Nutrition certification. For more training tips, read her blog at or contact her at

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Springtime dandelion control

April 11, 2017

Fall is the better time of year to control dandelions and other perennial broadleaf weeds, but control is achievable in spring if applications of appropriate herbicides are properly timed. Researchers from Kansas State University recently evaluated the efficacy of seven commercially available herbicides when applied before, during, or after peak dandelion bloom. Dandelions were considered in peak-bloom when at least 70% of plants in the research area had fully open, unwithered flowers. Pre- and post-peak bloom of dandelions occurred when approximately 10% of plants had unwithered flowers before and after peak-bloom, respectively.

Here are the major conclusions from the research:

  1. If applied pre- or post-bloom, all herbicides were similarly effective by the end of 2011.
  2. 4 Speed XT and SpeedZone were more effective than Trimec Classic or Cool Power before or during peak-bloom. The authors postulate that this occurred because 4 Speed XT and SpeedZone contain ester-formulated 2,4-D and a protoporphyrinogen oxidase (PPO) inhibitor (e.g. pyraflufen-ethyl or carfentrazone-ethyl, respectively) that improved control at this time.
  3. Herbicides containing amine formulations of synthetic auxin herbicides (e.g. 2,4-D) were generally less effective than ester formulations at peak-bloom.
  4. TAKE-HOME: Avoid dandelion control during peak-bloom in spring. If unavoidable, herbicide mixtures with ester formulations and PPO inhibitors will likely provide the best control. Remember that ester formulations are volatile, and are therefore more likely to damage ornamental and garden plants during warm temperatures.

Thanks to Cole Thompson, Assistant Professor, Integrated Turfgrass Management Specialist,

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SAFE adds Board members

April 11, 2017

STMA’s charity, The Foundation for Safer Athletic Fields for Everyone (SAFE), has added four new Board members. Appointed to the Board is Jody Gill, CSFM, Blue Valley School District, Overland Park, KS. Those elected to the Board include Marcus Dean, CSFM, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY; Jeff Fowler, Penn State University Extension, Franklin, PA; and Victoria Wallace, University of Connecticut, Norwich, CT.

Other Board of Trustee members include: Chairman of the Board Jay Warnick, CSFM, FIELDS, Inc.; Mike Andresen, CSFM, Iowa State University; Scott Bills, CSFM, Sports Field Solutions, Jon Butler, Pop Warner Little Scholars; David Houseknecht, Little League International; Nick McKenna, CSFM, Texas A&M; Craig Potts, CSFM, Texas A&M; Chad Price, CSFM, CFB, Carolina Green Corp.; Paula Sliefert, The Toro Company; John Sorochan, Ph.D., University of Tennessee; Chris Sperry; and Steve Wightman.

SAFE’s mission is to “Enrich communities through championing safe, sustainable sports and recreation fields for all athletes.”

SAFE currently awards scholarships and grants, provides the student challenge winning teams’ monetary prizes, and funds educational initiatives. It raises money from ground level support from STMA members and through various events held during the STMA annual conference, such as a golf tournament, bowling event, and live and silent auctions.

Corporate sponsorships also help to fund SAFE. Thank you to Beacon Athletics, Carolina Green Corp., Diamond Pro, FIELDS, Inc., Gail Materials, Harrell’s, Little League International, JSM Services, Pioneer Athletics, The Toro Company, Turface Athletics, Vescio’s Sportsfields, and Wesco Turf, Inc.

SAFE recently conducted an online auction that was successful. Look for its next online auction in June! To donate to SAFE, click here.

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University of Buffalo cuts four sports

April 11, 2017

One of the great celebrations in American college sports took place April 3 with the crowning of a new men’s basketball champion in Phoenix.

There was no celebrating at the University at Buffalo.

The university paid a price for competing at the top level of college athletics by concluding it had to eliminate four sports teams – men’s soccer, baseball, men’s swimming and diving and women’s rowing.

The cuts, effective at the end of this school year, represent a belt-tightening that ultimately will save $2 million a year in athletic department spending, UB said.

The decision was met with sadness, anger and sympathy from the students and fans impacted.

“I guess doing things right doesn’t matter,” tweeted UB senior soccer player Austin Place. “Back to back title games, highest GPA on campus and loads of community service. Still in shock.”

Soccer star Russell Cicerone, who in January became the first UB player drafted by Major League Soccer, called the move “humiliating.” In a letter posted on Twitter, Cicerone wrote: “I am so disappointed in this decision that I can no longer be proud of the university I called home for the past four years.”

“I guess I would say that while I’m really upset and disappointed that this has happened to our team and the other teams, there’s nothing we can really do about it,” said UB sophomore Mason Miller, the Mid-American Conference men’s swimmer of the year this season. “The university made the decision to cut these programs, and everyone just has to accept this reality.”

The cuts bring UB’s sports teams from 20 down to 16, the minimum number required to compete at the NCAA’s top level of Division I athletics, known as the Football Bowl Subdivision. Three other MAC schools – Ohio, Toledo and Western Michigan – were at 16 teams this year.

“It’s a sad day,” said UB Athletics Director Allen Greene, “to share with our student-athletes that we just don’t have the ability on a long-term basis to support their endeavors in a way that’s both beneficial and rewarding to them and for us to produce championships the way we want to.”

UB’s athletic department budget for the 2015-16 school year was $31.9 million, which ranked third in the 12-team MAC, according to federal budget documents. The MAC average athletics budget was $29.4 million.

UB President Satish K. Tripathi said the decisions were based on an “overarching review of our athletics department,” an assessment separate from the rest of the university and not tied to UB’s overall budget for 2017-18. Tripathi said UB is not planning budget cuts in other units or departments for the coming fiscal year.

Greene said the cutbacks would not have a financial impact on UB’s most popular sports, basketball and football. He said it would not impact the push to build an $18 million field house for football, which is on the drawing board.

In a broader sense, the cuts can be viewed as an attempt by UB to rein in the subsidy the university provides the athletic department. Roughly three quarters of the UB athletics budget, in the $24 million range, has been subsidized with students’ fees and general university funds, which primarily are composed of tuition and state tax dollars. UB’s subsidy of athletics ranked ninth in the nation, according to a 2015 higher education study, and numerous MAC schools were high on the list.

Tripathi said there has been an “understanding that we will reduce that subsidy” and that an assessment of athletic spending in 2017 had been planned for a couple years. Athletics fundraising represents about 10 percent of the athletics budget.

“Our fundraising this year probably is going to break all the records in terms of athletics fundraising,” Tripathi said. “It’s not a big number, but I think we’re going to be more than $3 million this year.”

Football is the most expensive college sport, and UB’s football budget was $7.53 million last year. Football drew the ire of some in the UB community Monday.

“Absolutely ridiculous that UB men’s soccer gets cut when the bottomless pit of UB football is throwing country music concerts before games,” said former UB soccer player Vinny DiVirgilio on Twitter.

Nevertheless, Tripathi and Greene stressed the importance of football for a state institution of the size and reputation of UB. The MAC requires its members to compete in football, men’s and women’s basketball and women’s volleyball.

“We are committed to being in the MAC,” Tripathi said. “If you look at the benefit to the university in terms of the number of applications that come in, the kind of successes that you have with some sports. Some years you don’t. But really you have look at the long term, and you have to look at providing the students the kind of experience that they expect from a state university. And that decision has been made for awhile.”

Said Greene: “When we think about our purpose in terms of athletics and the university, our responsibility is to raise the profile of the University at Buffalo through intercollegiate athletics.”

UB said the decisions on what programs to cut were based on program costs, athletics facilities, Title IX, geographic location and a comparison of sports sponsored by the MAC.

The reduction affects 120 students currently on team rosters (30 other students on those rosters will be graduating this year). UB said it will honor the scholarships of all affected student athletes who want to continue their studies at UB. Affected student-athletes are being given permission to contact any other schools to seek a transfer.

The problem for the current students is most other universities have committed most of their scholarship money for next year.

“It sucks for the teams being strung out with little or no time to try and find schools and teams that will take them,” said Miller.

“I’d say 90 percent of scholarships have been handed out,” said UB baseball coach Ron Torgalski. “Guys who thought they were set and excited to be a part of what we had going, their world has been turned upside down. Everybody’s scrambling.”

UB’s men’s soccer team is coming off one of its best seasons. The Bulls finished 12-4-3 and ranked 50th in the nation, their highest season-ending mark. The MAC, however, has only four other schools that play men’s soccer (Akron, Bowling Green, Western Michigan and Northern Illinois). A fifth school, West Virginia, joins the MAC only for men’s soccer. This likely was a big factor in UB’s decision to drop the team, which was founded in 1971. UB’s well-regarded coach, Stu Riddle, left in January to accept a higher-paying head job at Northern Kentucky.

The UB men’s swimming and diving program was founded in 1948. This is another sport that has limited MAC support, with only three other full-fledged MAC schools participating (Eastern Michigan, Ball State and Miami). Teams from three other conferences join the MAC teams for men’s swimming only.

UB still will sponsor women’s swimming and diving. Andy Bashor has served as the head coach for both men and women’s swimming since 2007.

The UB baseball program was founded in 1949, discontinued in 1988, and restarted in 2000. Ten of the 11 other MAC teams support baseball. Akron dropped it in 2015.

Nevertheless, UB has a lot of baseball history. UB great and Lackawanna native Joe Hesketh spent 11 years pitching in the major leagues. Catcher Tom Murphy, who ended a great UB career in 2011, made the Colorado Rockies roster out of spring training last week.

Women’s rowing was founded in 1997 and competes in an eight-event schedule over the fall and spring. The rest of the MAC does not compete in rowing.- by Mark Gaughan, The Buffalo News (New York)

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Lord’s cricket club goes 100% renewable

April 11, 2017

New England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) statistics illustrate that extreme weather in December 2015, which has been linked to climate change, caused more than GB£3.5m-worth of damage across 57 cricket clubs. Increased rainfall is also causing significant loss of fixtures in recreational cricket and impacting on the professional game. The ECB distributed more than GB£1m in emergency funding to flood-affected clubs in 2016, with a further GB£1.6m earmarked for 2017.

The new Warner Stand, which will be opened in April 2017, is symbolic of the Marylebone Cricket Club’s (MCC) – the world’s most active cricket club, the owner of Lord’s and the guardian of the Laws of the Game – sustainability drive. The innovative structure, designed by world-renowned architecture practice Populous, includes photovoltaic roof panels for electricity generation and a state-of-the-art water collection and recycling system.

The MCC has developed a broad sustainability programme, meeting its 2020 emissions targets last year and reducing its electricity use by 7% since 2010.

See photos and read more here

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Weed control during spring seeding

April 4, 2017

From April SportsTurf “Q&A with Pamela Sherratt:

Q: We are getting ready to overseed our soccer field this spring. What weed control options are there?

A: Successfully growing cool-season turf from seed in the spring can be a challenge because the weed pressure is so great, which is one if the reasons why the recommended time to do renovation is in the fall. In the real world however, athletic fields are in a constant state of renovation and so seeding is a season-long operation.

Weeds that emerge in spring, like crabgrass, prostrate knotweed, yellow nutsedge, goosegrass and annual bluegrass are particularly troublesome on athletic fields because they can germinate and establish quickly, even on compacted soils. Weed seed present in the soil is laying dormant just waiting for an opportunity under the right environmental and cultural conditions to invade a weakened turf with bare soil. Because weed pressure is so great in the spring and early summer months, it is important that the soil is not disturbed (avoid tilling as this will bring up weed seeds) and that the seedbed be treated with an herbicide that does not adversely affect germination of the desired grass seed.

There are several approaches to using an herbicide during the seed establishment period. Following is a summary of those options, based on years of herbicide trial work by Dr. Dave Gardner. One strategy is to seed in early spring and then after the seedling turf has established, apply an herbicide with pre and early postemergence activity, such as dithiopyr (Dimension, others*). This strategy requires very careful timing, and on most athletic surfaces, overseeding is not a once per year operation. Once the application of dithiopyr is made, as is the case with most preemergence herbicides, future overseeding operations must be delayed according to the label.

In fact, on areas that you plan on seeding or over-seeding in late spring or summer, hopefully you did not apply a preemergence herbicide. If you did, then be aware that almost all of the preemergence herbicides on the market are very effective at controlling not only weed seedlings, but also the seedlings of our desired turfgrasses. Fortunately, there are three preemergence herbicides that are labeled for use at seeding time: siduron (Tupersan), mesotrione (Tenacity), and topramazone (Pylex).

Siduron has been available for use in turf for many years. It is safe for use on seedling turf. Follow the label directions carefully. When used properly, siduron will reduce crabgrass, goosegrass, foxtail, and many summer annual broadleaf weeds by about 80%.

Mesotrione is in a unique class of chemistry and this product has a very diverse label, including pre- and postemergence control of both broadleaf weeds and annual grasses. It also controls sedges preemergence and certain perennial weedy grasses postemergence. One of its key uses is the preemergence control of annual grassy and broadleaf weeds in newly seeded turfgrass. When used as directed, mesotrione will result in nearly complete control of crabgrass, goosegrass, foxtail, and many summer annual broadleaf weeds. But, it will not affect the growth and development of the seedling turf. Most effective use of this product is to apply it to the soil surface right after the seeds have been raked in but before mulch is applied.

You can then begin to irrigate as you normally would to establish seedling turfgrass. Mesotrione is very safe to seedling turf. However, some phytotoxicity has been reported if it is applied to young turfgrass seedlings. If you are using multiple applications of mesotrione as part of a program to control stubborn weeds, such as creeping bentgrass, then you want to avoid overseeding or reseeding the area until you are making your last mesotrione application. In other words, it is better to wait and reseed with the second or third mesotrione application, then to seed when the first round of mesotrione is being applied.

Topramazone is a more recent introduction to the turfgrass market. It is similar to mesotrione in its weed control spectrum and its safety to seedling turfgrass. Make sure to follow the label recommendations carefully.

After the seed has germinated there is a period of time in which your options for weed control become limited. Most postemergence herbicides for broadleaf weed control have language on the label that states that following seeding, the turf needs to be sufficiently established so that it has been mowed three times before the product can be safely used.

All of the herbicides mentioned in this column are good products and can be quite effective. You can help to improve your chances of success by avoiding the 2-4 week period each year that is the peak of germination for the particular weed species that dominate your fields. For example, each of these products is quite effective at reducing weed establishment when seeding or over-seeding in July when weed competition begins to drop off. However, each of these products can produce less than complete weed control if used in mid to late May. This is more likely to be a problem if the May timing is in conjunction with seeding a slower to germinate species such as Kentucky bluegrass. By simply waiting a couple of weeks (or seeding a couple of weeks earlier), weed seed competition may be greatly reduced, which further increases your chances of success when seeding or overseeding.

*Mention of a specific product does not constitute an endorsement over other products that may be similar


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Spring is a great time for soil testing

April 4, 2017

The basis for sound nutrient management and water quality protection programs in turf management revolves around soil testing. A “Basic Soil Test” will typically provide information on soil pH and the levels of the macronutrients phosphorus (P), potassium (K), magnesium (Mg) and calcium (Ca). Having this information can help you build an effective fertilization program. Check out STMA’s bulletin on Utilizing Soil Tests in Nutrient Management for Sports Fields for more information on the process and how to interpret results.

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Tribe not responsible for foul ball injury says jury

April 4, 2017

A jury has sided with the Cleveland Indians in the lawsuit brought by a fan who was partially blinded by a foul ball during a game.

Keith Rawlins, of Rochester, New York, will get no money after jurors found the team was not responsible for Rawlins’ injuries during the July 20, 2012, incident at Progressive Field.

The jury announced its verdict late Friday, after a day of deliberating and four days of testimony in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Daniel Gaul’s courtroom.

Lawyers for Rawlins could not be reached for comment.

Todd Hicks, a Chardon-based civil attorney who represented the Indians, said he was pleased with the jury’s decision in the case the team argued could have had wide-ranging implications for baseball teams and parks around the country.

Rawlins took his then-15-year-old daughter to the game against the Baltimore Orioles and sat along the left field line in the stadium’s lower bowl. With two outs in the top of the ninth inning, Rawlins claimed the park’s ushers ordered fans to empty the section he was in and several others before a post-game fireworks show.

Rawlins said that he and several other fans stood up and walked up the aisle. As he had his back turned, he heard the crack of a baseball bat connecting with a pitch. He turned toward the field just as a line-drive foul ball struck him in the face.

The impact broke several bones and left him blind in his left eye, court records say. The ball was traveling about 95 miles per hour, according to court records.

Doctors who treated Rawlins testified that he may need future surgeries and could possibly need a prosthetic eye. The vision loss left Rawlins unable to perform his job as a tool and die machinist, his lawyers said.

Major League Baseball has long held, and courts have agreed, that fans assume the risk of being hit by objects like baseballs or broken bats as part of going to a game.

But Rawlins argued that the usher’s order caused him to turn his back to the field during play, going above and beyond the normal amount of risk.

The Indians denied that the usher actually “evacuated” the section during the game. They called five other fans from the section who testified at trial that the ushers did not clear the section before the end of the game. The team also pointed to a deposition in which they said Rawlins said that the usher “stared him down” from the aisle, and Rawlins took that stare as an order to evacuate his section, according to court records.

The team also argued that, even if the usher did actually order the section removed, a verdict in Rawlin’s favor would open the teams’ up to a flood of lawsuits by fans who are hit by balls while ordering from beer, hot dogs or popcorn vendors during the game.

Rawlins filed the lawsuit in November 2013, and Gaul granted summary judgment in favor of the team. Rawlins appealed Gaul’s decision, and the Ohio Eighth District Court of Appeals overturned the decision. The Ohio Supreme Court upheld the decision to let Rawlins’ lawsuit move forward.- by Cory Shaffer, Dayton Daily News (Ohio)

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Stepping up for military families and disabled veterans

April 4, 2017

Project EverGreen – – needs volunteers for two of its key nationwide programs that serve military families and disabled veterans.

GreenCare for Troops and SnowCare for Troops match green industry volunteers with families of deployed military personnel, and post 9/11 veterans with service-connected injuries or disabilities, to lend a much appreciated and welcome hand.

Program volunteers agree to provide basic lawn and landscape services (lawn mowing, tree trimming, weeding, etc.) and/or snow removal, free of charge to these military families during the length of the deployment or registration period. This is generally one year or less for deployed troops, and no more than two years for disabled veterans.

If you register to be a GreenCare or SnowCare for Troops volunteer by April 30, 2017 and agree to help at least one family in your area, you will be entered into a drawing to win a $500 Home Depot gift card.

“Volunteers are the heart and soul of our programs. By providing these valuable services, military families gain peace of mind as well as a serene yard to get outside and unwind. It also often enables disabled veterans to remain in their homes while they focus on healing and re-connecting with their families,” says Cindy Code, executive director of Project EverGreen. “Please step up and join us in taking care of our nation’s heroes. Whether it is one family or multiple families, we appreciate your participation.”

For more information on the programs, and to register to be a volunteer, visit

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