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Synthetic Turf Fields Could Pay for Themselves

Think about the reduced maintenance costs for the city and increased field availability that could be accessed year-round. What are your thoughts?

Having grown up in Novato spending many of my weekends on the sports fields throughout the community, I am a strong advocate for youth athletics. Unfortunately, with the budget cuts over the years, the city's Parks, Recreation, and Community Services department has faced some significant reductions.

What if there were a way to improve and expand youth athletics while saving money at the same time? Synthetic turf fields just might be a solution. They  directly relate to the focus of long term sustainability, reducing maintenance and ongoing costs, increasing revenue, and ultimately increasing the quality of programs and facilities available to the public.  It truly is a win-win.

Why synthetic turf in Novato?

  • DECREASED MAINTENANCE COSTS - $50,000/year - Based on less water use & less maintenance, a synthetic field could significantly reduce ongoing costs.  Granted, there are still some maintenance costs with synthetic fields, including refill & sanitizing, but with the high schools both having synthetic fields, it is possible to share resources or negotiate better pricing with maintenance vendors.
  • INCREASED REVENUE - $35,000/year - Petaluma has had a synthetic turf field for 10 years.  It is rented 363 days out of the year.  We live in an area with great weather where outdoor sports can be played year-round.  Unfortunately, fields have to be closed even after mild rains and are completely closed during the winter months--even on dry, sunny days.  However, synthetic turf fields could be utilized year round.
  • ONE-TIME WATER REBATE - $60,000 - For this reason, it makes logical sense to replace a current field with turf. If a new field were constructed, you would still have the added revenue, but would lose out on the rebate as well as the decreased maintenance costs.  In fact, a new field in a new location could result in increased maintenance. 


From a simple cost perspective, a $750,000 field could pay for itself.  The turf does need to be replaced every 10-15 years (some manufacturers even say 20).  The increase revenue could be put into a restricted fund for turf replacement (as done in Petaluma).  The turf replacement would probably be around $300,000, so after 10 years of increased revenue, the funds would be available.  Also, the project might even be partially financed by the field manufacturer.

This is a perfect example of a long-term sustainable park/facility that the city should be exploring and encouraging.  In the midst of program reductions and facility closures, this project could serve as a huge positive and win for the city.  Considering the current use of our fields in Novato, from youth soccer and lacrosse to tournaments and adult recreation, this project would truly touch and impact many residents.

Share your thoughts below ...

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Nick Kies July 21, 2011 at 02:45 PM
I"ve heard that synthetic turfs with their added traction cause more ankle and knee injuries and I've seen enough guys with bad knees from high school football on grass.
Susan Wreden July 25, 2011 at 06:43 PM
Anyone who has had to play on synthetic turf will tell you it is far from desirable. The turf gets extremely hot, and causes more injuries than playing on grass.
linda July 29, 2011 at 08:34 PM
It does not appear that Mr. Lucan did much research into the con's of synthetic turf. Saving a little money (which turns out it probably will not do anyway!) over our environment and people's safety is very myopic as well as careless. This is not the type of leadership our communities need.
Eric Lucan July 29, 2011 at 09:17 PM
Thank you for your comments. Personally I believe the benefits outweigh the cons and apparently every school district in Marin also agrees as evident by the synthetic turf fields that exists at almost all of the high schools. Once the rain starts our fields have to close down for several months even when the sun is shining the next day. I would rather have a field that can accommodate sports year round which keeps people healthy and promotes wellness. Granted, I would prefer perfectly manicured grass fields with proper drainage that can be utilized 365 days a year, but currently that is not a possibility.
Matt McCarron July 29, 2011 at 09:53 PM
The local school districts like them mostly on mantainance issues and the fact that you can play on them in rain or just after a storm. There is a lot of "youth sports revenue" being generated by the various districts that those districts are relying ong. Rescheduling games is a constant nighmare for spring sports and field use at the High Shool level. You do have a lot a deffered mantainance with these fields, but the districts are use to defering costs right now. Last point there is no plan available to recycle this material at end of life by the manufacturers, if there was it would be very attractive to install.

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