Facility Profile - March 2007
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A Ballfield With Soul

Seoul International Park in Los Angeles

By Emily Tipping


More than a ballpark

The renovation of the park was not limited to the installation of synthetic turf. Also included was a new irrigation system, fencing for the fields, a new scoreboard, lighting, dugouts and bleachers. In addition to the sports fields, Seoul International Park houses a children's play area, picnic areas, a jogging path and a community center with an indoor gym and auditorium. With so many opportunities for recreation in one location, the park is a popular destination for residents of Koreatown.

Seoul International Park is one of Los Angeles' CLASS Parks, which incorporate a model based on the understanding that many problems for today's youth—from isolation and educational failures to substance abuse and gang involvement—are just symptoms of a youth development infrastructure that is falling apart at the seams. The CLASS Parks program operates nearly 50 youth development sites around the city, providing activities after school and on the weekends. It's not just limited to baseball, either. CLASS Parks also provide opportunities for youth aged 11 to 15 to get involved in education, vocational training and adventure-based programming, in addition to standard recreational activities.

Funds have also been donated by the Dodgers Dream Foundation and the Amateur Athletic Foundation to create new programming for kids and teens in the community surrounding Seoul International Park. This includes a softball league for the girls, in addition to youth baseball.

Almost like the real thing

The synthetic turf used in the park was selected through a competitive bidding process from among several synthetic turf systems specified by the architect. This particular A-Turf system uses a rubber-and-sand infill and is constructed of polyethylene fibers, which makes it user-friendly and as close to natural turf as possible. In some synthetic fields, infill has a tendency to shift and "spray"—not a welcome occurrence for players. The less the infill moves, the more consistent the surface is for play.

According to Dobmeier, the benefit of synthetic turf for this project—or for any project—is consistency and the number of events that can take place on the field.

"You get the materials put in, and once it's installed, it can literally be used hundreds of times per year with little impact to the surface," Dobmeier said. "You can use every square foot of the installation day in and day out in any weather conditions—from beautiful sunshine to heavy rain. It plays very consistently."

Another benefit of the synthetic field is the lowered maintenance requirements. To be sure, synthetic fields still require some maintenance, but not the same kind of constant care that natural turf fields need, and that makes a big difference for Seoul International Park's ballfields.

"Basically, it was used so much that they couldn't keep up with the maintenance," Walker said. "A little maintenance is still required—maybe washing it down with a power sprayer with water or a water-soap combination. If it gets ripped, they need someone to come out and sew it back together. There really isn't much maintenance after it's installed."

Dobmeier added that the synthetic turf has a life expectancy of at least 10 to 12 years, but since the product has only been around for eight or nine years, it could end up lasting even longer than expected.

"I think the community is going to benefit from the amount of use it's going to get," Walker said, "and it's going to stay in top-notch condition because of the synthetic turf."


FOR MORE INFORMATION

Seoul International Park:
www.laparks.org/dos/parks/facility/seoulInterPk.htm

A-Turf:
www.aturf.com

SportsOne Development Inc.:
www.d1s1.com/s1home.cfm