August 2018

SportsTurf provides current, practical and technical content on issues relevant to sports turf managers, including facilities managers. Most readers are athletic field managers from the professional level through parks and recreation, universities.

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Page 27 of 51

www.spor 28 // August 2018 was to work with a fi eld contractor to fi gure out the details, such as: how much sod we'd need, how we plant it and logistics associated with removing a weathered fi eld and installing new turf. This was a 5-month long process with many phone calls, meetings and trips to the sod farm. "Shortly after the decision was made to stick with natural grass, the tremendous challenge of undertaking this task really started to sink in. Although it was not an easy feat, we would make this work; we had no choice. After consulting with fellow members of the Sports Turf Managers Association, I received valuable input and insights, which Rebels return to their roots I n 2003, the University of Mississippi installed synthetic turf at Vaught Hemingway Stadium. By 2015 their second synthetic fi eld was nearing the end of its lifespan. Ross Bjork, athletic director, said, "We think it's the right thing to do for our program on many, many levels. Natural grass is the preferred playing surface of our players and our coaches. In the SEC West, Arkansas and we are the only two programs that have artifi cial turf. The rest have natural grass, so we think it's the right move." The decision was made via unanimous vote to pull up the carpet after the 2015 season and replace it with natural grass. A competitive bid process emphasized qualifi ed sports fi eld contractors with proven experience in projects of the size and scope of Vaught Hemmingway's Stadium. Sports Turf Company Inc., Whitesburg, GA (STCI) with four certifi ed fi eld builders on staff and an extensive background in natural and synthetic fi eld construction, won the contractor job. Aaron McWhorter, founder and president of STCI, pointed out, "Very few sports fi eld contractors could have performed the scope of work which included fi eld demolition and construction, storm water, concrete and coach's towers. It was realistically a 7 month scope of work, during the winter rainy season, with a 5-month timeline for completion." Bob Calta, certifi ed project manager of STCI, recalls, "It took a lot of time and a lot of planning on all ends before renovation and construction could even begin. There were a lot of considerations. Disposal of the synthetic turf. Deep excavation and extraction of fourteen inches of sand, clay, stone and synthetic fi eld drainage components. Twenty or more owner-requested change orders with no change in deadline." With a big project comes big challenges. Access to the stadium was limited to a very small entrance requiring low body single axle dump trucks to import and export all of the material at a painstakingly slow pace. The schedule did not leave much room for problems encountered or weather delays. If a day was missed, other effi ciencies had to be recognized elsewhere in the schedule to make up for it. By July the fi eld had to be completely reclamated to allow the new sod time to become established before the fi rst game. The coordination of vertical stadium construction along with fi eld renovation meant working closely with numerous other contractors and scheduling had to contemplate all activities. Silt washing down onto the fi eld construction site from other contractors onsite further complicated construction activities. STCI installed a complete natural grass fi eld underdrain system including a 10-inch sand rootzone layer, 4 inches of gravel, and the drainage pipe itself. The irrigation system for the stadium consists of a new booster pump and Hunter STK-6V's with eight retractable heads spread around the perimeter of the football fi eld. Each head produces 326.8 GPM and distributes water to a range of 165 feet, making eight of them the max that was needed to cover the entire football fi eld. Certifi ed Tifway 419 bermudagrass was installed inside Vaught Hemingway Stadium and on practice fi eld number two to form a dense and durable surface. 419 bermuda's ability to recover from damage rapidly and its ability to withstand the rough and tumble nature of football makes it one of the most durable hybrid bermudas. A total of 188,325 sq. ft. or 20 loads of sod, were delivered for the stadium and the natural grass practice fi eld. After it was installed it underwent a growing period, where it rooted and knitted together during a 3-week process. The success of this stadium can be attributed to the intelligent design and coordination of the many departments of the university. Short pile, high wear synthetic surface along the perimeter of the fi eld will handle a lot of traffi c from boom cameras, football players, referees and personnel. Overall this combination means the fi eld will improve competition for players competing on a highly performing grass fi eld while the perimeter of the fi eld continues to look great. Ole Miss went back to natural turf in 2016.

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