Everett claims some new turf

Park among first in U.S. to try new play surface

By By Kate Reardon

Herald Writer

EVERETT — The needles of the large sewing machines pump green synthetic fibers into the ground, adding fake grass blades to the carpet of natural grass.

In a few weeks, workers will finish stitching the grass imposters into three soccer fields in southwest Everett at Walter E. Hall Park, making what officials here hope will be impressive playing fields like no others in the area.

If it’s good enough for the Denver Broncos, is it good enough for Everett?

The technique was developed by Desso DLW Sports Systems of the Netherlands. The product is call Grass Master, a hybrid of artificial turf and natural grass. The Broncos was the first major sports team in the United States to use the product.

Everett will spend about $1.5 million for the three fields. They should be ready in a few weeks and allow for more playing time.

A grass field can take about 300 hours of play before it needs repairs, said Bob Cooper, Everett parks and recreation director.

Related projects

  • The Everett Parks Department is installing all-weather artificial AstroPlay turf on soccer fields at Kasch Park near Paine Field. The fields had sand coverings but experienced problems with drainage and quality. Parks director Bob Cooper said the artificial turf will allow for practically unlimited play. The fields have lights for evening play.

    For more information on AstroPlay turf, see http://www.astroplay.com/unitedstates.htm

  • For more information on the Grass Master turf system being installed at the Walter E. Hall fields, see www.ddgrassmaster.com

  • "This stuff will be able to take three times that, or 900 hours," Cooper said. "The artificial fiber takes the load, so the field doesn’t get divots or ruts."

    "This is just one step the city is taking to try to address the shortfall issue (of soccer fields)," said Ryan Sass, senior engineer for the Everett Parks Department.

    Although the product has been popular in Europe for a decade, Everett is one of only a handful of cities in North America trying out the new type of field. In fact, Everett’s fields are the fourth, fifth and sixth in the United States for the company, said Richard McDonald of Desso.

    For Everett, extending the playing time on the three fields will equal the equivalent of 12 new fields, McDonald said.

    Ross Kurcab, turf manager for the Broncos, said some Denver players have praised the new turf at Invesco Field.

    "It takes a tremendous pounding," Kurcab said. "Some players told me it was the best football field they had ever played on."

    The fields last longer because the synthetic fibers remain in the ground, stabilizing the field even after the grass blades are torn away. Kurcab said he has noticed that the fields also drain better.

    "I think on the parks level, it’s a great idea," Kurcab said, adding that he’s reserving his full endorsement of the product. "The proof in the pudding is to see how it does after the first season (of football)."

    Kurcab researched several turf options for the new Denver stadium over an 18-month period before choosing Grass Master, he said.

    "There’s a lot of pressure in getting these grass fields right," he said. "We really looked into it before making our decision."

    The product is about 15 years old, with the first installation about 10 years ago in the Netherlands, McDonald said.

    During the installation, polypropylene strips are sewn into the sand-based field about 8 inches deep. As the natural grass grows, the roots cling to the synthetic fiber, which helps stabilize the soil, enhance drainage and prevent the natural grass from being torn up by aggressive play.

    "We’ve done about 150 stadiums in Europe for rugby and soccer," McDonald said, adding that the company started in the U.S. market about two years ago. Some of Europe’s fields have had more than 1,400 hours of use, McDonald said.

    The company, which designed and patented the system, has 16 of the huge sewing machines worth about $1 million each working around the world. Two of the machines are now in Everett.

    You can call Herald Writer Kate Reardon at 425-339-3455

    or send e-mail to reardon@heraldnet.com.

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