Thousands of Germantown area residents have played or watch their kids play on the synthetic turf fields at the Maryland SoccerPlex, and we have taken small parts of that field home with us, in our shoes, in our chairs, in our socks. Well, that will stop as the SoccerPlex has begun replacing those fields with a new safer, state-of-the-art synthetic turf fields.
The Maryland Soccer Foundation announced it will replace its existing turf fields with cutting-edge synthetic turf fields provided by AstroTurf. The two biggest upgrades to the new fields compared to the old surfaces are the use of organic type for the infill and the addition of a shock absorbing pad under the top layer.
The shock absorption pad used in the new fields will have a maximum GMAX rating (hardness of surface) of 120. The harder the surface, the more impact the athlete absorbs and therefore the higher risk of injury. Perspective on the GMAX rating is the lower, the better for the athlete. As a basis for comparison, the NFL requires a GMAX rating for all of its fields of 165 or less and a typical natural grass field has a GMAX rating of 90.
“In researching potential replacement fields safety was always our first area of concern,” said Maryland SoccerPlex Executive Director Trish Heffelfinger. “What stood out to us immediately was AstroTurf’s use of Zeofill, an organic infill which among other things helps keep the fields at a cooler temperature. The Brock Power Base shock pad AstroTurf uses was also a priority because it will help reduce injuries, particularly concussions.”
The organic infill the SoccerPlex will specifically use is Zeofill, a naturally occurring mineral mined in Death Valley, California. Zeofill consists of tiny white stones which are porous to aid drainage and resist excessive heating. Another reason Zeofill is more attractive than other infill options are that within three months of installation Zeofill is fully integrated thereby minimizing “splash” of the infill, and ideally eliminating the contamination of shoes, clothes, etc.
“We thought AstroTurf’s product was the best solution for replacing the current turf fields,” said Ryan Bjorn, Director of Grounds & Environmental Management for the Maryland SoccerPlex. “It provides better safety for athletes competing at the SoccerPlex, and we think environmentally it was head and shoulders above other alternatives we reviewed.”
The new fields will be denser than the previous ones, which will give players an experience closer to playing on a real grass field. The turf being replaced had a “face weight” (essentially density of carpet stitching) of 40 oz. and the new one will be 80 oz. which will increase durability and longevity as well as playability. In addition, to extend the life of the fields, they will not have the inlaid lines that you see on most synthetic turf. The SoccerPlex grounds crew will paint the lines on the field based on the planned activity.
Construction on the new fields began Monday and should be completed on January 13, 2018. Once completed the fields will be open year-round, and the little black pellets will not come home with players and parents anymore.
Captions: Workers continued removing the old fields from the turf fields, Fields 18, 19, and 20 at the Maryland SoccerPlex on Tuesday. Installation of the new safer, state-of-the-art synthetic fields should be completed by mid-January.
Photos by Germantown Pulse.