Feature Article - February 2016
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Keep Your Eye on the Ball

Know Your Goals to Design Effective Sports Fields

By Deborah L. Vence

Removing and Remaking Markings

By and large most field owners elect to have their field markings permanently inlaid during installation of synthetic turf fields.

"This makes maintenance much easier over the life of the field, as it eliminates the need to constantly paint lines. Contrasting colors distinguish one sport from another. We've even installed Quidditch lines," Stahlbaum said.

"In certain instances, though, field users wish to have only their sport's lines visible. In those cases, they install an all-green field and paint markings for each application," she said. "We can also inlay tick marks to help make painting lines easier. We recommend paints that are designed specifically for synthetic turf applications."

Because the Maryland SoccerPlex has so many fields, a ride-on paint striper is used to make paint markings. "But we're lucky in that we have one of the better crews in the country, very well trained. Once you get the basics of marking a field, the rest comes in time … removing and remaking markings," Bjorn said.

"The biggest challenge as far as markings is time of year," Bjorn said. "Bermudagrass starts to go dormant in the fall, and there isn't much growth in mid-October and mid-November. Those times we will green out and use different colors if we do shift fields. The last time we paint a white field might be in mid-October. It gets busy, but as long as your colors are distinct, most teams and refs are used to being on multi-use fields."

Catella added that if you are on a synthetic field and painting the markings, make sure you have the right type of paint.

"They have permanent stuff and semi-permanent, and very temporary paint," he said.

Having the right type of paint and doing the removal is not difficult. But it's something that has to be budgeted for, and requires time.

Brusius said for Waukegan Sports Park's natural grass fields, different colors are used.

"We paint every week. We want good crisp lines for upcoming games on the weekend," he said, adding that sometimes during the following week, you want the lines to fade, in case a different sport is going to be played.

"If it's going to be a soccer game, we just repaint soccer fields again," he said.

Brusius explained, too, that the paints used are designed to give high levels of performance while having the minimum impact on the environment.

"The raw materials we employ are also chosen not only on their technical merits but on their environmental friendliness. All of our raw materials are guaranteed APEO-free and wherever possible are biodegradable," he said.

Brusius said typical pH levels of the paints used are lower than many manufacturers (circa 7.0 rather than 8.0 to 9.0).

"Fleet products being close to the pH of water, even when the paint is in concentrated form, minimize leaching effects and ensure negligible impact on the biosphere," he said.

Paint manufacturers use the term "Zero VOC" to describe paint products that contain little to no volatile organic compounds (VOC).

"These paints are marketed as being non-toxic, odor-free and safer for the environment than paints with a higher content of volatile organic compounds," he added.