For Space Coast athletes young and old who’ve ever twisted an ankle or simply tripped on an annoying pothole while playing games at Viera Regional Park, get ready for the incredible sensation of AstroTurf beneath your cleats.
Seven athletic fields at Viera were converted over the summer from grass to a high-tech AstroTurf artificial surface, a makeover that promises all sorts of benefits – from fewer sports injuries and the virtual elimination of weather-related game cancellations to more revenue-producing sports tournaments on these spanking new grounds.
Once the finishing touches are completed, nearly 600,000 square feet of professional-grade synthetic turf will be carpeting the seven fields, which historically have been heavily used for football, soccer and lacrosse.
Two of the new high-performance surfaces were all ready to go when local officials and community leaders – including Brevard County Commissioner Curt Smith, who represents District 4, which includes Viera Regional Park – were joined by young players, coaches, parents and others for a ceremonial ribbon-cutting Aug. 1 at Viera. All of the new fields, which have inlaid markings to accommodate each of the three sports, are expected to be fully operational by October.
With consistent, perfectly level surfaces underpinned by special cushioning, it is expected these AstroTurf-covered fields will dramatically cut down on the number of ankle and knee injuries and other mishaps caused previously by Viera’s grass fields, notorious for so many potholes and bald spots resulting from extensive use – or, rather, overuse. Renowned for its performance, quality and durability, AstroTurf is practically indestructible when it comes to such prolonged treatment.
In addition, due to AstroTurf’s resistance to adverse weather, the fields will be ready for action year-round – read, no more rainouts. A special cooling agent also will hold down the surface temps in the Florida heat. Meanwhile, the lower maintenance requirements associated with the state-of-the-art turf will lead to significant cost savings, when compared with the upkeep on grass fields. The United States Sports Specialty Association (USSSA), which is headquartered nearby, will handle the ongoing AstroTurf maintenance, in support of the Brevard County Parks and Recreation Department, which manages Viera Regional Park.
Funding for the $5 million resurfacing project comes from revenue generated by the Brevard County Tourist Development Tax of 5 percent on hotel stays and other short-term lodging rentals.
By all accounts, the new world-class facilities promise quite a return in terms of tourism and economic impact for Brevard County. The vastly improved fields are expected to lead to the creation of more athletic tournaments drawing teams and fans from outside the area. That new influx of visitors means more spending on businesses in Brevard, and more revenue for the county.
“That’s a big plus for the community and it will have substantial staying power, considering how well these artificial surfaces typically hold up,” observed Bonnie King, the interim executive director of Florida’s Space Coast office of Tourism. “You can’t argue with the positive long-term outlook this change is fostering for our area.”
USSSA, with its nationwide reach, is expected to have a significant role in organizing more sports tournaments and other events for these revamped fields. But it’s a good bet the shiny new playing surfaces, which are on a par with the AstroTurf you might find in any large metropolitan stadium, are also going to bring in more local participation in athletics at Viera, along with new Space Coast fans. All in all, expect some pretty decent word of mouth about these first-class fields in the coming months.
For more scoop on the type of AstroTurf now covering the fields at Viera, please see this feature.