Sports Field Management - November, 2012

FEATURES

Industry Advancements: Field Protection

By Suz Trusty

Suppliers listen to the concerns of sports field managers on field protection issues and incorporate potential solutions into their research and development, resulting in new products and enhancements to existing products.


Enkamat Plus is being rolled into place on this field.
PHOTO COURTESY OF COVERMASTER.

CoverSports USA (www.coversports.com) provides a full line of field covers and protectors, as well as the FieldSaver winter turf blanket/growth cover. Shana Brenner, marketing director, says, "Our new IncrediSeal heat-sealed hems and seams replace all sewing and stitching and thus eliminate any possibility of thread breaks. The process is used on our ArmorMesh Sideline Tarps, ArmorMesh Infield Turf Protectors and ArmorMesh Windscreens."

Beacon Athletics (www.beaconathletics.com), a multi-product supplier, introduced the Beacon FieldShield area tarp this year. Benji Brye, sales and custom products specialist, says, "It's a midweight tarp, 8 ounce per square yard, woven polyethylene material with an ArmorKote surface coating for better abrasion and flex crack resistance, seam strength and chemical resistance. It's green on one side and white on the other. We offer FieldShield in both mound and home plate tarps, each in three different sizes."

Tom Nielsen, head groundskeeper for Louisville Bats Baseball at Slugger Field, says, "We use products from Beacon Athletics for our fungo mats and front of the mound turf protectors. Our growth blankets are a permeable, white, woven material that we picked up through our networking sources when their fields were converted to synthetic turf. We use them on our bluegrass/perennial ryegrass field and more frequently on our bermudagrass berm. We also use them for turf protection, pinning them down along the warning track to create paths for pedestrian traffic during the smaller, non-sports events that don't require full-field protection."


Terratrak Plus stands up to heavy equipment like these cranes.
PHOTO COURTESY OF COVERMASTER.
Markers, Inc. (www.markersinc.com) supplies 18-ounce vinyl covers for the pitcher's mound, home plate and bases that have weights concealed in the hems so there's no need for stakes or sandbags. They also make recycled rubber foundation mats that serve as inground barriers in the batter's box or pitchers' mound. Dave Knoepp, director of sales and marketing, says, "One of our newest recycled rubber products is a protective cover for drains that allows the water to flow freely while eliminating the potential liability factor. Standard sizes are 30-inch round and 37-inch square, but as the manufacturer, we can customize them in any size to cover a drain, electrical box or other potential hazard."

Jeff Mondor, managing vice president for Aer-Flo, Inc. (www.aerflo.com), says, "Aer-Flo's sideline and infield turf protectors for natural grass fields are made of our exclusive VIPOL Matrix material to withstand years of heavy wear. It is so tough, it's virtually spike/cleat-proof and does not absorb liquids. Our double-coated Chroma-Bond Imprinting adds multicolor logos and lettering that will last for the life of the VIPOL Matrix. We can customize each protector to fit any configuration for areas around home plate, dugouts, base and baselines and along sidelines, and incorporate their unique logo in permanent full color. In the last year, we added true deep Scarlet, Sky Blue and vivid Gold to our VIPOL Matrix line, bringing the total to 20 colors now available for fields and windscreens."

GreenJacket (www.greenjacket.com) provides impermeable full infield turf covers and rain covers for the home plate, pitcher's mound and bases, all in either 10 or 12 mil. The high-strength laminated polyethylene film, with heavy scrim reinforcement placed between the laminations, enhances tear resistance and stops any tears from migrating. Garry Sullivan, vice president of sales, says, "We also offer a full infield permeable turf cover of 2.5-ounce UV-stabilized woven polyethylene that reduces frost and ice damage and encourages quicker spring green-up and faster seed germination. All these GreenJacket covers feature double-fold, sewn edges."


Hems with the new IncrediSeal process from CoverSports (left) compared to stitched hems.
PHOTO COURTESY OF COVERSPORTS USA.

Covermaster (www.covermaster.com) provides a wide range of products for field protection and is the exclusive supplier of Evergreen Turf Covers for the stadium market. Evergreen turf covers are made of a translucent polyethylene material with a patented lace coating and are uniquely woven to be both permeable and protective. They are used on natural grass fields to retain natural heat and moisture to speed up seed germination and promote deep root development. In colder climates, they're used to delay dormancy for late-season sports, to protect against frost and winter wind desiccation, and to promote earlier green-up in the spring. They're lightweight for easy handling.

Covermaster President Bob Curry says, "Evergreen Original has a white lace coating. Evergreen Radiant has a silver lace coating designed to radiate additional heat back to the soil, which is especially beneficial for sites with greater temperature fluctuations. Evergreen Premium has a dark green lace coating designed to draw in additional heat and can increase ground temperature by 10 degrees. Because the patented lace coating provides integrity for the cover, there's no need for hems and grommets. This Smart Edge Technology allows the covers to be shaped using ordinary scissors, with no fraying."


The McLeod Cover field protection system at Wembley Stadium.

Ross Kurcab, turf manager for the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, says, "We started with the white Evergreen Original, using it for seven or eight years, then brought in the silver Evergreen Radiant. We use many short, on/off intervals with our heated soil to manipulate the temperature at varying levels both for germination and to keep the grass actively growing. We also use the cover to prevent winter desiccation and bring the grass out of dormancy earlier in the spring. We cut the older cover into multiple different size pieces for spot use to encourage growth in heavily painted areas and to speed germination in smaller overseeded areas."

Bob Christofferson, head groundskeeper for Safeco Field, home of the Seattle Mariners, says, "While we have the option to close the roof at Safeco Field, that's not always the best choice depending on the time of year, amount of rain and other variables. We use a full field cover from Covermaster. Our infield tarp is a 13-ounce material made locally that we trimmed and glued to exactly match our dirt."

Covermaster has also introduced a new product to the U.S. market that has proven its effectiveness overseas, the MacLeod Cover. It's a field protection system that forms a dome, creating an optimum environment that protects the field from rain, snow or extreme cold, yet allows working room for field maintenance and repair.

Rigid flooring systems

The last few years have brought expanded options in field protection products for pedestrian and heavy equipment traffic for concerts and other non-sports events. Kurcab says, "Initially, we created roadways using multiple layers of plywood over various forms of field covers. We'd connect the plywood corners with small metal plates and screws, but equipment traffic would still shift the plywood and it would splinter."

Today's concerts and other non-sports entertainment are extravaganzas, requiring heavier equipment for the installation and removal of staging and support systems. Arnon Rosan, president and CEO of Signature Systems Group, LLC, (www.stadiumflooring.com), says. "To accommodate this, flooring options have needed to change in not only the types and thicknesses of the materials, but also in the construction of the components themselves."

Curry says, "The new rigid flooring systems for heavy traffic lock together and stay secure to withstand even the huge cranes used for concert staging. They're also more effective barriers for harmful liquids and debris. While these create problems on natural grass, they're an even greater factor on synthetic turf where damaged areas are difficult to replace with the proper match in surface quality and appearance."

Facilities have the option of using a single rigid flooring module, repeated across the entire venue, or incorporating multiple types of modules, each developed for specific applications and levels of weight-bearing capacity.

PortaFloor (www.portafloor.com) was an early entry in reusable, rigid flooring protection modules and retains a unique characteristic - it's rollable. Anthony Cordova, sales and product manager, says, "We offer the PortaFloor Grass EX module designed for natural grass, the PortaFloor Turf SSC for synthetic turf, and PortaFloor PRO, with larger modules for faster setup and take down. Our PortaFloor MAX, made of 100 percent recycled material, has a greater weight-bearing capacity and is resistant to acids, solvents and petroleum products. All have built-in positive locking mechanisms."

Covermaster has the exclusive North and South American sales and marketing rights for the Terraplas product line. Terraplas is supplied in solid panels that are light, easy to handle and fit together without specialized equipment to form a solid, totally interlocked floor. It allows the passage of air, light and water through the tile and, with a 2.36-inch space under the surface, allows the grass room to grow. All Terraplas products have the expansion and contraction capacity built into the system to prevent surface distortion.

While retaining the features of Terra- plas, Terraturf is a lighter, more economical choice, designed to protect natural or synthetic turf from pedestrian use. Curry says, "The top surface has an integral nonslip pattern. It's easy to install. Just overlap each panel and step down. You'll hear the Terraturf snap into position."


This shot shows the height under the dome of the McLeod Cover field protection system.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF COVERMASTER.
Terratile maintains the features of Terraplas, can withstand the weight of staging and equipment, yet is approximately half the weight, so it costs less and requires less space to transport and to store. It's designed to protect natural and artificial turf.

Terracover-V is designed to protect artificial turf. Curry says, "All panels overlap to provide one continuous, flat floor, leaving no gaps for passage of dirt, litter or liquids."

Terratrak is available in three versions: NF, with no feet on the bottom for use on synthetic turf; WF, with patented feet to protect natural grass; and FB, with an additional flat panel on the underside for use in heavy wear areas. Terratrak Plus is the most recent introduction. It has the highest built-in spread load capabilities and is used as a temporary roadway to handle the heaviest forklifts, large trucks and cranes. Both are light enough to lay by hand. Curry says, "Used together, their overlapping design and unique locking system create a continuous-surface turf protection system, free from gaps."

Rosan says, "Signature Systems Group offers EventDeck for general purpose protection and lightweight equipment. Our UltraDeck provides medium-duty protection and greater weight-bearing capacity for vehicles, staging and equipment. ArmorDeck is for heavy-duty protection. All three come in both natural turf and synthetic turf versions. Drainage and aeration holes provide aeration for natural grass, while the system prevents unwanted liquids from reaching the ground. The synthetic turf options eliminate the aeration holes and provide greater protection against moisture and debris. Underside ribbing is designed to eliminate sharp edges that could cut the turf fibers. We've added a third version for ArmorDeck, incorporating a bottom panel that nearly doubles its weight-bearing capacity. We recently developed a patented mechanical expansion joint designed specifically for each series, the EventDeck, UltraDeck and ArmorDeck."


Turf protection for the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Olympics were provided by Signature Systems Group, LLC.
PHOTO COURTESY OF SIGNATURE SYSTEMS GROUP, LLC.

The more events a facility can incorporate, the greater the revenue, so there's ever-increasing pressure for more rapid changeovers. Rosan says, "Our systems are fast and easy to install, with a self-aligning mechanism that assists in the process, allowing for greater use of unskilled labor. We had only six hours to remove the field protection system from the 2012 Olympic opening ceremonies to make way for the first sports event."

When facilities hold multiple non-sports events, rigid flooring systems can soon pay for themselves. Most suppliers will work with a facility on developing purchase options to fit their budgets.

Rentals are another option. Cordova says, "PortaFloor works with regional rental companies that purchase our flooring to supply to area facilities." Signature Systems Group handles rentals directly. Covermaster and Terraplas USA work together on rentals with most coordinated by Mike Beane. All have experienced crews available to oversee and handle installation and removal.

Concert field protection is part of the contract with the promoter for many facilities, including Slugger Field. Nielsen says, "They've used different systems here including plywood, geotextile, Enkamat Plus and PortaFloor. While I can't select the material, I can oversee the process. Our field has a single entry/exit point. I've widened the warning track at center field and at the corners for easier access and to reduce the area that must be covered. The faster they handle the move-in/move-out, the better it is for our grass."

Christofferson says, "Corporate special events and dinners are the most frequent non-sports activities on Safeco Field. We use the standard Terraplas for protection."

Kurcab says, "For some of our concerts, like U2, the field protection system is specified and supplied by the promoters. For others we use the Terraplas we own and add Terratrak for the roadways. The color is light enough to control the heat buildup so we don't need a blanket beneath it. I want the covering put down correctly, installed at the last possible minute and removed immediately after the event. Terraplas supplies a crew that can do that and meet the schedules we establish. To me, that's as important as the type of protection product."

Many suppliers have products in the final stages of research and development, so sports field managers can look forward to even more innovative field protection options in 2013.

The author is a contributing editor for SportsField Management.