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Feature Article - February 2009

Field Goals

Maintaining Sports Fields & Grounds

By Emily Tipping


W

ith the Super Bowl celebration now past (though it's Super Bowl Eve as I write this), we can pause to appreciate the views of the pros when it comes to turf. The NFL Players Association recently conducted its bi-annual survey of its player members and ranked the 31 pro fields as a result.

The players still seem to prefer natural grass, with four of the top five fields being natural. Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Indianapolis Colts and an artificial turf surface, was ranked fifth. But three of the bottom-ranked five fields are also natural turf.

In the last survey of the players, conducted in 2006, players' number-one suggestion was to make all fields grass to prevent injuries, but that suggestion was followed up with a request to keep grass fields well maintained, not to allow multiple-use fields, and to put artificial infilled surfaces in cities where the weather is bad. That might explain why Chicago—home to some nasty winters—is among the lowest-ranked natural fields in this year's list.

But when you come down from the heights of pro football to the day-in, day-out managing of turf at a high school stadium, a park district baseball field or any of a number of other facilities that must stretch their dollars—and their fields—to meet the needs of the playing public, you'll find agencies across the country looking for all kinds of ways to do more with less.

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