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Friday, July 17, 2009

Ain't nothin' like the real thing, baby

I don't understand why there's so much artificial turf in Portland. Here we sit just downwind of the grass pollen center of the universe, with just about perfect conditions for growing turf, and yet our sports teams cavort around on plastic. If we have to have eco-roofs on all our public buildings, why don't we have green, climate-change-reversing eco-playing fields -- the kind with, you know, real grass? It seems so obvious.

Then there are all those paved tennis courts, pouring runoff into the sewer system. You're killing salmon with every sweaty serve. Come on, people, real tennis is played on grass.

Comments (14)

Or at least the porous stuff that allows water to perolate. I've never understood hard outdoor tennis courts in this climate.


I agree we should stop paving tennis courts, but why not clay rather than grass? Clay is permeable to rainwater the same way grass is. While grass and clay courts both require more maintenance than paved courts, I believe clay maintenance costs are slightly less than grass. Grass courts are slipperier and "faster" making play frustrating for beginners and more likely to injure. Clay courts are mostly found in Australia and Latin America, so clay is prole while grass is aristo/bourgeoisie.

Seconding clay as a good alternative, especially since the best outdoor season is also the driest here. Playing on clay is more attractive to older players; it's a slower surface, higher bounces. But still to see those green courts at Newport is a brilliant experience, even when they're empty.

Don McClure sounds like a good guy.

You forgot to mention that the grass would be "locally grown" and, therefore, a potential economic boon to the region. (Of course you'll have to sidestep the enormous cost of getting rid of all the paved courts and replacing them with grass but that shouldn't be a problem in this town). Also, if the grass courts were fertilized with fecal effluent from the Canada geese and Nutria overpopulating all of our public parks and golf courses, it would be a real "win-win" for nature and the economy. It's got "sustainable" written all over it. Can't believe it hasn't happened already.

Let me just say that I hate artificial turf. I am not in favor of it.

But for fields that get daily use, year-round the cost of grass compared with that of turf is prohibitive. Football in the wet fall and winter is especially rough on grass. Soccer to a lesser degree. Often requiring several replacements of sod during a single season.

This is the argument, made by bean counters. It's generally accepted to be true if looked at only through the lens of dollars and cents.

The nitrogen (fertilizer) and water requirements for grass are substantial, and probably result in more carbon emissions than production/installation of artificial.

Similarly, in terms of runoff, the trade-off between concrete run-off into the sewer system versus nitrogen run-off from grass is debatable.

Grass football and soccer fields may get torn up by the players, but I don't buy the economic argument about using plastic grass in baseball. Virtually all the action in a baseball game takes place in the dirt areas between the infield and outfield, on the pitcher's mound or at home plate. There are plenty of grass fields in town used for Little League or softball games--and used a lot more frequently than the Beavers play at PGE Park. Therefore, grass should definitely be used in all levels of baseball, the way God meant the game to be played.

Both clay and grass require almost daily maintenance. Clay has to be rolled and grass needs to be cut. Hard courts need a lot less attention. Also, grass takes longer to dry out than hard courts. You can squeegee and sweep wet hard courts dry after rain. If runoff is a big problem, it would make more sense to collect the rain water for irrigation in the public parks with tennis courts. This is from a guy who plays tennis year around at least weekly (weather permitting) on public courts for over 50 years.

Why doesn't the Oregon grass framers trade group get together and do a Nike, sponsoring a few grass fields? They could chip in and fund the maintenance.

Field turf is not suitable for ball fields for certain age groups due to the lead content. It is composed of recycled shoes etc,... and is not allowed in landfills because of this contamination.
Why would we consider this? $$$$

I have always preferred grass, and so do most all players who haves played on both surfaces. Injuries are the primary reason there is a shift back toward natural... as in the NFL. They certainly can happen on either, but are more prevalent and severe on turf surfaces.
The contamination issue is seldom advertized as it is inconvenient to those who would make the case for artificial surfaces whatever type they may be, and to those who would supply them.

As an avid ultimate frisbee player year-round, I use the turf field at Delta Park once a week, from October to March. We play from 8-10 at night, under the lights, often in the rain. We don't "cavort" a whole lot, but we do play hard and we don't stay home just because it's wet out.

There is no substitute for this...grass fields would get destroyed from the amount of use they receive in these conditions. Playing on turf even when it's wet keeps the field from becoming a disaster area, and if you think turf causes injuries, see how well you hold up playing on chewed-up fields that are covered in puddles.

Since you mentioned Nike, it's worth noting that the Nike campus has a beautiful grass field that they let their employees play on...but only during the warm months when they know the field isn't going to get trashed. The rest of the time they are required to use their turf field.

For what it's worth, there are several different artificial playing surfaces around the northwest.

There's the commonly-hated AstroTurf™ surface that most people think of - basically green carpet on top of asphalt and concrete, pitched at a slight degree for drainage.

However, there's also FieldTurf™ which purports to have similar "plant and pivot" properties to real turf, with more cushion and much easier maintenance.

It's said that when Qwest Field was being built for the Seahawks, it was to have a natural turf playing surface; until the players voiced their favorable opinion of the FieldTurf in Husky Stadium, where they were playing while their new house was being built. They scrapped the natural surface from the plans (along with irrigation and whatnot) and installed FieldTurf.

In addition to Husky Stadium, FieldTurf has been installed for some time in Reser, Autzen (OSU and UO), Martin Stadium (WSU); and Memorial Stadium (Cal) has a product called "Momentum Turf" which is very similar. The remaining 5 Pac-10 schools use real turf (ASU, Arizona, UCLA, USC, Stanford). Note that Stanford just built their stadium and opted to keep the grass.

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