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Different Turfs and Their Benefits for Your Sports Complex
(Article updated 10/14/21)
When you look out at your favorite football stadium, baseball field, or soccer pitch, you see a smooth, shiny playing surface emblazoned with the home team’s logo. Traditionally, the green strands shooting out from the ground were an all-natural grass surface. However, this is less likely as more and more facilities are turning to artificial turf as a cost-effective solution to the continuous use and high maintenance required for grass fields. According to the Synthetic Turf Council, there are 12,000-13,000 turf fields in the United States, including the stadiums of 15 NFL teams. That list includes showcase stadiums such as SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles and AT&T Stadium in Dallas. Long gone are the days when regular grass was the only option for a sports complex playing surface.
While many sports complex owners are opting for artificial turf for their playing surfaces, it can be unclear which surface is best for you. Today, the sports venue planning experts at the Sports Facilities Companies will discuss the different types of turf as well as how it is constructed and key considerations when deciding which turf to install on your football, baseball, or soccer field.
How is Turf Constructed and Why?
While it may appear that turf simply gets tacked on to a concrete floor as carpet does, that’s not the case. Turf field construction is a multi-step and multi-layer process. The top layer is, of course, the turf itself, however, within those blades of synthetic grass is what’s called infill. Infill is typically made up of silica sand and/or rubber, that are placed in between grass fibers to weigh the turf down, give athletes better footing and to absorb shock. The sand and rubber ratios can be adjusted to accomplish different playing speeds. This is often done to enhance the performance of the home team.
Found in some turf systems, the thatch layer consists of short fibers that are woven into the turf and serves many purposes. One of the most critical functions of the thatch layer is holding infill in place. Infill is loose and has the potential to move around with field use. The thatch layer helps prevent infill migration. Ultimately, this reduces field maintenance.
Shock pads, a layer of padding, are added to some turf systems to provide better shock absorbency and reduce injury. Shock pads are used between the base layer (concrete or stone) and the turf. Shock pads also allow field operators to develop a faster surface with a sand only infill system.
Types of Turf Used in Sports Complexes
Monofilament turf consists of single strands of fiber that are built into a roll of turf. Monofilament turf fields have an aesthetically pleasing appearance and can be seen on fields such as high-end soccer pitches.
Slit-film turf is developed when slits are cut into a single flat piece of material to develop a honeycomb like webbing. Slit-film turf is more durable than monofilament but is not as aesthetically pleasing. It’s mostly used for multi-purpose fields because of its ability to handle a high level of usage.
Dual fiber turf is a mix of both monofilament and slit-film fibers. These systems provide the best combination of durability and appearance.
Cooling Agents for Turf
One of the drawbacks of turf fields is its ability to attract heat. To combat this, turf manufacturers have started incorporating cooling agents that can be installed into the turf. There are several options available that can reduce the temperature of the playing surface including natural, sustainable minerals such as Zeolite that facilitate evaporative cooling by soaking in moisture and dispersing it across the surface as solar energy is applied, like the process that produces human sweat.
Unsure Which Surface You Should Install at Your Sports Complex?
The venue planning team at the Sports Facilities can guide you through the sports facility design process. Whether it is choosing the right type of turf or providing program development and marketing leadership, SFC has the solutions for success your sports complex needs. Contact our team at 727-474-3845 to learn more.