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Promoting Turf in Your Town: 21st Century Field of Dreams© More from this issue
Tired of subjecting your players to the muddy, rutted, divot-filled, dangerous conditions of your embarrassing home playing field? Frustrated by rainouts, postponements – or worse, injuries caused by poor or inconsistent field conditions? Then it’s time for your school to go synthetic! • Most coaches fully understand the benefits of synthetic playing surfaces as compared to natural grass: extended practice time, reduced maintenance costs, consistent and safe playing conditions and, for colleges and universities, a recruiting tool. But some coaches, particularly in regions where frequent rain or poor growing conditions are not issues, can be reluctant to propose installation of synthetic turf in these days of budget-cutting and belt-tightening. • AFM research told us that over half of you, our readers, are involved in the purchasing decision for synthetic turf fields. With that in mind, here are facts and strategies that you can use to help motivate your school and community to get behind a new synthetic turf installation.
FACT: Synthetic turf fields provide for round-the-clock usage by a wide variety of a school’s teams besides football, plus the marching band and many other school and community activities.
STRATEGY: Build a consensus among other coaches, activity directors, school administrators and community leaders that a new synthetic turf field will benefit many groups; not just the football team.
FACT: With virtually no yearly maintenance or watering costs, long-term expenses for a synthetic turf field can actually be lower or equal to those of natural grass. And considering the vastly increased usage, the cost-per-hour-used will usually be far lower than grass.
STRATEGY: Know the maintenance budget for your existing field, the potential costs of re-sodding or replacing the field with new grass and the comparative costs and maintenance budgets for synthetic turf. Arm yourself with facts about turf’s long-term cost-benefit analysis, including increased usage and possible field rental income. Other coaches and administrators who have synthetic fields, industry support groups and the turf companies themselves are all great sources of information. Turf companies’ websites usually have lists of their installations and some even provide individual contacts and phone numbers so that you can research particular companies and gather information about costs, playability or other issues.
FACT: Ironically, synthetic turf is far more environmentally desirable than natural grass. No fertilizers, no pesticides, no chemicals of any kind are ever applied and watering is non-existent; especially important in dry regions. Furthermore, thousands of old tires are crushed and used to make the turf infill for each field, saving them from filling up landfills.
STRATEGY: Investigate how to receive support and possible financial grants from local, regional or state environmental groups.
FACT: The considerable initial investment for a new synthetic field can come from many different sources.
STRATEGY: Again, talk to coaches in your region who have synthetic turf (or contacts from turf companies) to find out how synthetic fields were funded at their schools. In your own community, consider funding from boosters, private donors, fundraising projects, local bond issues and corporate sponsorship. Some or all can be employed by you and your school administration to help you and your players get your new “Field of Dreams”.
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