Reconstruction and installation of 580,800 square feet of AstroTurf “RootZone HD 3D3 Blend” synthetic turf system, with inlaid field markings for football, soccer and lacrosse.
Construction and future maintenance to be managed by the United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA), in exchange for field-use rights similar to other “recreation partners.”
The existing fields are part of the large regional county park operated and maintained by the Brevard County Parks and Recreation Department. Fields were in poor condition due to overuse by local leagues. Poor drainage has caused unplayable conditions for as many as 40 days per year. There has been insufficient budget for proper turf management.
Project cost: $5,527,485, with $5 million from 10-year-bond proceeds; $582,000 annual payments to be made using Tourist Development Tax revenue.
Received approval on March 28, 2018. Construction was expected to begin in April 2018.
- Brevard County Parks and Recreation Department saves money.
- The cost to reconstruct the natural grass fields was estimated to be $2.25 million.
- For proper turf management, natural grass fields would require $190,000 (35 cents per square foot) per year.
- Additional use for tournaments and events would have been very limited, to prevent natural grass field degradation.
- Local kids and families will get world-class facilities, paid for by Tourist Development Tax revenue.
- AstroTurf is the world leader in synthetic turf, and the product being installed at Viera is used in professional facilities like Camping World Stadium in Orlando.
- AstroTurf is unaffected by weather and is available for play all the time.
- As an enhanced safety feature, an “En-Plast” pad will be installed under the football field turf, to protect against head injury.
Tourism activity will increase.
- Due to consistency and unlimited use, Viera Regional Park will be available for tournaments and events, which will generate 25,000 room nights per year.
- Annual economic impact of $17.4 million.
- Tourist Development Taxes of $135,000.
- Save Our Lagoon Taxes of $87,000.
- Public School Infrastructure Taxes of $87,000.
Redirecting money will not help the lagoon.
- The tourism industry supported the creation of the half-cent sales tax to fund the Save Our Indian River Lagoon plan. Tourists account for nearly one-third of this tax revenue. It will take time to implement the plan and see improvement.
- The Save Our Indian River Lagoon project has benefited from increased taxes and has sufficient revenue for implementing planned projects.
- The Save Our Indian River Lagoon plan is a long-term solution and its projects must be sequenced. For example, seagrass is still dying in the lagoon and seagrass restoration projects must wait until the water quality improves.
- The Save Our Indian River Lagoon plan has $58 million in unprogrammed money that must be used in sequence, following a science-based plan.
- The $5 million for reconstruction of the Viera athletic fields is not a lump-sum payment. Using proceeds from a 10-year bond, annual payments of approximately $582,000 are planned. That is about 1% of the annual amount being spent on the Save Our Indian River Lagoon plan. It would not have a material impact on the lagoon, but for the kids playing at Viera every weekend, it is everything.
Benefits of AstroTurf
- According to a recent study, “Clearly, the synthetic turf alternatives have significantly reduced environmental impact over their life cycle, along with lower life cycle costs, when compared to the natural turf grass alternatives.” The majority of environmental impacts associated with AstroTurf occur during manufacturing.
- Once installed, the reduced environmental impacts include less water use, no need for nitrogen-based fertilizer, and less need for machinery to maintain the turf.
- Initial costs are higher, but ongoing maintenance costs are significantly lower than the costs for maintaining natural grass fields.
- Except for the football fields, the fields receiving AstroTurf RootZone HD 3D3 Blend turf will have 2 inches of “Bionic” fill for cushioning; football fields will have 1.5 inches of Bionic fill, plus an En-Plast pad.
- Bionic fill will include a “Zeofill” cooling agent, to reduce turf temperatures in summer.
- The consistency of synthetic turf reduces the risk of knee and ankle injuries.
- The Brevard County Parks and Recreation Department did not have money available for this project.
- Tourist Development Tax revenue could be used if tourism activity could be generated.
- Synthetic turf was the right choice, using the Tourist Development Tax to cover the higher installation costs, but saving the County Parks Department the long-term maintenance expense.
- USSSA was brought in to help negotiate favorable volume pricing and to provide its expertise in planning, resources for ongoing turf maintenance (labor and equipment), and tournaments and events, to generate the tourism activity.
- Win, win, win.