When Belle Vernon Area High School in Pennsylvania installed a gold artificial turf in their football stadium, school officials probably weren’t envisioning the reaction it’s receiving. The “Vegas Gold” synthetic field from AstroTurf has received plenty of attention, both positive and negative.
While the turf color is homage to the school’s leopard mascot and colors of gold and green — and maybe even a scheme to motivate players to aim for a win — some don’t see it that way. Headlines from the USA Today and Asheville Citizen Times liken the field to dead and burned turf. The Post Game calls it an eyesore.
School superintendent Dr. John Wilkinson said, “…we really wanted to think outside of the box and to show our school pride. The board of directors and I are so very proud of our district; we wanted to honor the Leopard tradition with a color that stands out.”
For Dr. Wilkinson, it was an easy to decision to purchase the field from AstroTurf. The company had installed the last field at Belle Vernon Area in 2001 and it lasted nearly twice as long as the original warranty.
Belle Vernon Area is the first high school east of the Mississippi River to install AstroTurf’s “Gold Series” system, which was introduced this year to honor the 50th anniversary of the AstroTurf brand. The field uses silica sand instead of controversial crumb-rubber particles. While the brand is certain about the safety of crumb-rubber infill, it also serves clients that want other infill options as well. The new infill is even denser than the old infill to be more shock absorbent and to feel firm and fast.
Other synthetic fields in the United States are celebrated for their unusual color choices. Boise State’s “Smurf Turf” blue comes to mind.