Myths around synthetic turf

Many myths surround why we must install synthetic turf. Many parents falsely believe that the kids will have more playdates on artificial turf, which is really not the reality. Many parents also believe that their kids must play on artificial turf to be able to play in college, which is also not based on reality.

Playing time and field usage

MYTH: An all synthetic turf field complex will extend the playing season, make our local teams and Park and Rec program offerings more robust and keep our athletes competitive with other surrounding communities.

REALITY: It is true that we will see less days cancelled due to rain, but in reality artificial turf does not give you more days to play. There are cancellations due to heat generated on synthetic turf fields. After heavy rain events, which are becoming more frequent, even synthetic turf fields are too wet and not safe for play.

MYTH: Living in the Midwest, field conditions cost our kids a month or two of outdoor practice, and synthetic turf would give those 6-8 weeks back to the kids.

REALITY: It is true that we will see less days cancelled due to rain, but in reality artificial turf does not give you more days to play. There are cancellations due to heat generated on synthetic turf fields. . After and During heavy rainstorms play is also not possible on synthetic turf.

MYTH: Since the Lacrosse Dads seem to be so eager to get the artificial field, will they play there? 

They are not scheduled to do so now. 

REALITY: That is entirely up to the Lacrosse clubs and the Parks and Rec’s board. Clubs with many Lake Forest residents will have priority

MYTH: The plan is to extend the life of the turf by limiting use. No freshman, sophomore or jv teams would use them. But the City plan on raising revenue by renting the fields out to clubs.

REALITY: It is correct that it is possible to extend the life of a synthetic turf fields by using them less. Likewise, if you use them a lot they will last less than the estimated 8-10 years. Parks & Rec is already generating money by renting out fields to clubs. According to SMP, one of the local sports tournament organizers the extra cost of synthetic turf cannot be made up by the extra play days. Income from hotel and dining revenues can help making it up, but typically these tournaments have their own vendors which prevents parents from going to the local restaurants. The types of hotels travel teams usually pick are not high end hotels like in Lake Forest.

MYTH: Will the 4th of July Fireworks be held on artificial turf, in the summer heat? With tents, tables, flag pitched into the ground?

REALITY: Yes, if the project with artificial turf goes through the whole area behind and to the East of Deerpath Middle School will become synthetic Turf. An event like 4th of July may have to be relocated as food and drinks are not recommended on synthetic turf. Also, in the heat fireworks may set fire to the synthetic turf.

MYTH: Field hockey was invented to be played on synthetic fields.

REALITY: Hockey, or field hockey as it is known as in USA, has been played since 2000 bc in Persia. Field hockey as we know it today was invented on the British Isles in 1861 to be played on grass fields.

MYTH: Everyone internationally and at the college level plays field hockey on synthetic turf.

REALITYAccording to the International Hockey Federation (FIH) 8000 liters of water (IS THIS IN ONE WATERING SESSION?) are needed to make a synthetic field properly playable for a field hockey game. FIH also states that installation and maintenance of synthetic turf for field hockey is very expensive compared to other surfaces. In order to make the sport more viable and inclusive the CEO of FIH Thierry Weil has announced that starting with the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris field hockey will no longer be played on synthetic turf. Natural grass or hard flooring are the surfaces of choice, but Weill says field hockey can be played on any surface and the idea that it must be played on synthetic turf is wrong.

 

Christ Church Episcopal School in Greenville, SC won the STMA Sporting Ground Field of the Year award at the School and Parks level in 2019. The school has one grass field to be shared between field hockey and lacrosse. 

 

Duke University who won Sporting Grounds Fields of the Year in 2019 at the College and University level also plays field hockey on grass. Their fields are overseeded with different types of grass depending on the sport played. They play soccer on Bermuda grass and immature ryegrass and Lacrosse on ryegrass.

 

Many of the top field hockey nations have regulations preventing field hockey from being played on a 100% synthetic turf, including all nations within the EU. As these nations continue to have much higher ranked field hockey teams than the USA it is obvious that synthetic turf is not what make a player competitive.

Financial responsibility

MYTH: If $9 million of the $11 million would be used to redo the underground to improve drainage, why not then keep the grass surface if the problem is fixed?

REALITY: The Parks & Rec’s budget for synthetic alone estimates that the storm water management and regrading will cost $188,100-229,900. The biggest cost is the synthetic turf field which is estimated at $6,316,00-7,772,000 and other project costs which we assume include the expensive equipment required to maintain synthetic turf fields.

MYTH: The cost of repairing/refilling an artificial turf might be the same as the price of cutting the grass.

REALITY: Correct. In fact we learned that FieldTurf, the contractor Lake Forest Parks & Rec works with recommended another municipality to use their installers for service and repairs  “the turf maintenance and contractors come out and do field sweeping to even out infill, check for seam repairs, replace infill as needed.  Cost is roughly $20,000 annually” If Parks & Recreations would install electric lawnmowers the cost of mowing the grass would be much less than $20,000 annually.

 

Location

MYTH: Lake Forest should have the facilities it’s families need. Too often we have to drive long distances because there isn't an adequate number of reliable athletic fields in Lake Forest. Our families deserve to be able to play here in Lake Forest.

REALITY: Yes. However, the solution is not a 10 acre artificial turf complex in Deerpath Community Park. The solution is to properly grade/drain and properly maintain the many sports fields we already have in Lake Forest.. Athletes from the city of Chicago and even from Indiana travel to Highland Park and Deerfield to practice with Midwest Regional Teams on grass fields. 

MYTH: When we go to away matches we are the only city that does not have the proper field.

REALITY: Neighboring communities such as Highland Park and Deerfield with sought-after facilities also do not have large synthetic turf sports complexes.

Athlete development and safety

MYTH: A turf field would allow for more consistent development of athletes in our community.

REALITY: High level athletes prefer playing on grass according to local coaches. Children in the best soccer countries play on grass and are perfectly able to develop consistently.

Environmental concerns

MYTH: If natural lawn care were used, the argument about chemicals would be lost. 

REALITY: Correct, with natural lawn care the City would not need to use as many chemicals. Likewise, the City will use a lot of chemicals to clean the synthetic fields, and these fields already contain a lot of nasty chemicals such as forever chemicals PFAS, PAHs, lead etc.

MYTH: Some natural materials, like sand, that can be used for filler instead of black rubber filler. However, there is a sand shortage, so if that was chosen, that could increase in price over time.

REALITY: It is correct that they mix silica sand with rubber and other infills. It is not real sand but a is made out of silica and oxygen. It is also called Silicon Dioxide SiO2. Silica sand is included in the EU restriction on turf fillers because of the high PAH levels and the dangers of inhaling it for the athletes and maintenance crews.

Best practices and trends

MYTH: Everyone is converting to synthetic fields.

REALITY: According to Patrick Maguire, President of Activitas, a leading field design, engineering and construction company in the USA, "the majority of new fields built in the last decade were synthetic, but natural grass fields are making a comeback."

 

As we see more and more professional athletes rejecting playing on synthetic turf, and more and more communities experiencing flooding problems, safety issues and expensive tears and rips in the synthetic carpeting synthetic turf is becoming less attractive. Communities are also increasingly aware and concerned with the human and environmental health issues of synthetic turf. Plastic is slowly becoming the new coal. 

 

Quality fields


MYTH: Our kids deserve better and we are losing players and spectators to neighboring towns with better fields that can host better sporting events.

REALITY: The players that leave to play in other towns often leave because they are ready for the next level. Top soccer clubs such as Magic and Pegasus (aka Chicago Wind and Fire) play their MRL games on Danny Cunniff, Brickyards Park in Deerfield and Waukegan's Greg Petry Sports Park. All parks have grass fields with adequate aeration over-seeding and other environmentally responsible practices. Danny Cunniff fields are maintained without synthetic herbicides and other pesticides.

MYTH: Young families want synthetic turf and a synthetic turf sports complex will encourage more  young families to move to town.

REALITY: While some young families may want synthetic turf, other young families care about the environment and do not want their children to play on a plastic surface with embedded toxic chemicals. Realtors report that many young families are looking for safe communities that are walkable and with natural green spaces and easy access to nature.

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