When it comes to synthetic surfaces for sports, there is AstroTurf and then there is everything else.
Renovation has begun on seven beat-down grass athletic fields in Brevard County’s Viera Regional Park. By summer’s end, the fields that are heavily used for football, soccer and lacrosse will be sporting new artificial surfaces made by AstroTurf, “the first name in turf.”
The conversion of the fields from grass to the AstroTurf Rootzone HD 3D3 Blend Synthetic Turf System is expected to be completed in time for football season. The new surfaces – nearly 600,000 square feet in all – will have inlaid field markings for the three sports.
The inventor of synthetic turf, the AstroTurf brand is a legend in the sports world, with a groundbreaking history that goes back more than 50 years. Its makers strive to ensure that every inch of their state-of-the-art product meets and exceeds the highest standards for performance, quality and durability. Over the decades, improved technologies have made AstroTurf the closest thing to natural grass without actually being natural grass.
The Viera fields being upgraded had been in poor shape due to overuse. In addition, inferior drainage led to unplayable conditions for as many as 40 days a year. Compounding the issue was insufficient budget for proper turf management by the Brevard County Parks and Recreation Department, which operates and maintains Viera Regional Park.
The AstroTurf product going down at Viera is the same as that used in some professional sports facilities, such as Camping World Stadium in Orlando. Once the synthetic turf installation is completed, local kids and families will be the beneficiaries of world-class playing facilities, paid for by local Tourist Development Tax dollars (see “Saving Money,” below). One of the most-well-known pluses from the use of AstroTurf is that it makes fields available for play all the time, in any weather condition. Another advantage is the outstanding consistency of synthetic turf, which reduces the risk of knee and ankle injuries.
Except for the football fields, the playing grounds being covered with AstroTurf at Viera will have 2 inches of “Bionic fill” for cushioning. That fill will include a “Zeofill” cooling agent, to reduce turf temperatures during the Florida summertime.
The football fields will have 1.5 inches of Bionic fill, plus an “En-Plast” pad under the turf. En-Plast is an enhanced safety feature designed to protect against head injury.
According to a recent study, synthetic turf products boast significantly reduced environmental impact over their life cycles, and most of the environmental impact associated with faux turf actually occurs during the manufacturing stage.
Once installed, the reduced environmental impact of artificial turf is sure to grab the attention of anyone who mows their own lawn: less water use, no need for nitrogen-based fertilizer, and less need for machinery to maintain it.
Synthetic turf also has a lower overall life-cycle cost when compared with natural grass. At Viera, the initial cost of installing the AstroTurf will be higher, but the ongoing maintenance expense will be significantly lower than the cost of upkeep for natural grass fields. The Space Coast’s Tourist Development Tax will be used to cover the higher installation costs, while the Parks and Recreation Department will realize savings in lower long-term maintenance costs.
For the curious, the cost to reconstruct the seven fields using fresh grass was estimated to be $2.25 million. In addition, proper management of the natural grass fields would have annually cost about $190,000. And additional use of natural grass facilities for new tournaments and events would have been very limited, to prevent the grass from being degraded all over again.
The cost of the Viera AstroTurf project has been estimated at $5,527,485, but that will not be a lump sum payment. With $5 million provided from proceeds from a 10-year bond, it is estimated that annual payments of $582,000 will be made, using revenues from the Tourist Development Tax.
The nonprofit United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA), which moved its headquarters to Viera in 2017, was brought in to help negotiate favorable volume pricing with AstroTurf and to provide additional turf expertise. Construction and future maintenance of the new AstroTurf fields is being managed by USSSA (the largest multisport governing body in the world), in exchange for field-use rights similar to those provided to the county’s other recreation partners.
For more details about this tourism community development project at Viera Regional Park, please see the accompanying fact sheet.