Along with baseball and softball fields, WAC also specializes in providing a wide range of services for football and soccer fields. In the football/soccer world, we tend to focus on maintenance-type projects as well as full or partial field renovation work. As with baseball and softball there are full grass areas, clay warning tracks and other types of surfaces to manage. We do all types of football and soccer field maintenance, including verifications of cutting. We also do re-sodding projects in which we strip worn areas, install new sod and keep it ready for the next year.
Particularly in the southeast, synthetic football and soccer fields are really taking off. In most areas of the country a football field is not only used for football but also might serve as a soccer or lacrosse field. In the last few years, many venues have converted these fields to synthetic turf because it is a multipurpose product, and suffers much less wear and tear than a traditional grass surface.
The issue of wear and tear is a particular concern for many high schools because their football fields tend to be overused. The high school varsity and junior varsity teams will use the field, and in some cases there will be two or three middle schools that play their games on the field as well. Then there are the soccer and lacrosse games, marching band and cheerleading practices—the list goes on and on. Installing synthetic turf relieves much of the pressure of having to maintain and repair the wear and tear that comes with just the normal use of a multipurpose field.
There is definitely less maintenance and upkeep needed with a synthetic turf football field, and this is the primary benefit of using synthetic materials. You have to condition the turf in terms of re-fluffing it, but one of the primary benefits is that it is low maintenance. For example, the cost and problems associated with proper drainage are essentially eliminated because the base of a synthetic field is crushed stone. This also helps to eliminate rainouts and other issues that can be caused by moisture. The cost of basic maintenance is also dramatically less with a synthetic surface, you hire a company with the right equipment and the savings are significant.
The main piece of equipment gets dragged across the field which re-fluffs the rubber, the infill product, and stands the blades of the turf back up. On the other hand, a natural grass surface needs to be mowed, watered, and fertilized on a regular basis, and damaged areas need to be repaired continually. A natural grass field requires ongoing maintenance that involves quite a few man-hours per week, especially in the off-season; in many cases it can require 20 hours a week or more to maintain the field in the summer. Synthetic turf eliminates almost all of that work.
Synthetic turf does require a quite sizeable upfront investment; for example, a new synthetic football field will usually cost between $450,000 and $550,000 as compared to a natural field which will be about half of that cost. However, factoring in the difference in the ongoing maintenance costs for natural grass athletic fields, it doesn’t take long for a synthetic field to make up the higher upfront cost. In addition to basic maintenance such as mowing the field, lines need to be painted on the field on a regular basis, and the cost of the paint used for those lines is astronomical. When you factor in the water, the manpower, the fuel for equipment – and the reduced cost of the paint over the lifespan of a synthetic turf field, which usually averages about 10 years – it is pretty much an equal balance cost wise.
With synthetic turf the ease of operation is tremendous and very cost effective. The lifespan of a synthetic turf field will range from 8 to 12 years and when it is time to remove the old turf and replace it, the cost is usually a third of what the original installation cost, because the substructure is already there.