DALLAS — The first Field Turf playing surface in Division I-A college football was installed in 1999, at Memorial Stadium in Nebraska. Thirteen years later, more than 6,000 stadiums have this type of turf.
At the Episcopal School of Dallas, it's time for a new one.
"We utilize this field for football, soccer, [as well as] the girls and boys for soccer [and] lacrosse," said ESD Athletic Director David Tollison. "Seventh grade through varsity sports, so it's used every day."
This project will take about a month to complete and it will be ready by the time school begins in the fall. At that time, ESD will have a brand new field at a minimal environmental cost.
Grant Hendricks is the president of G9 Turf, a New York-based company that is handling the removal of the old playing surface at ESD.
"On this field alone, we're able to keep 500,000 pounds of material out of the landfills," he said.
They do that by separating the field components — essentially vacuuming up the tiny rubber particles and bagging them before then removing the old turf.
"If you look over there," said Hendricks, pointing to the south end zone. "You can see we have 21 super-sacks already [filled] up, each one 2,000 pounds."
With 6,000 of these fields in the United States alone, that's either a lot of potential waste, or a great opportunity for recycling.
Along with G9 Turf, AstroTurf is working on the ESD project. AstroTurf will recycle the old surface, which will be used to produce a variety of plastic products.
The new playing surface will be softer, and in this age of concussion awareness, safer for football players.
"Every play ends with somebody being violently thrown to the turf," Hendricks said. "And we've tried to identify what can we do to be part of the team to make playing safer."
And it's starting at ESD.