There’s a lot of information involved and Garry Nallenweg wants to make sure
The CHS Athletic Director and a host of other public figures are set to host
a Community Meeting on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. in the large group
instruction room at Chesterton High School on the issue of putting a
synthetic turf on the CHS Football field.
They expect, and want, a full-house, so be prepared to get there early.
“We want people to come to a meeting on Wednesday night, so that the amount
of misinformation that is going through the community can be addressed,”
Nallenweg said. “This is not a luxury, it’s a necessity.”
FieldTurf is not the Astroturf that many people remember from the days of
the Metrodome in Minneapolis or the “carpet over concrete” at the old
Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia.
According to the FieldTurf.com, the patented design of FieldTurf artificial
grass and synthetic turf systems starts with extruded monofilament fibers
that are tufted into the backing material and end with their proprietary
layered infill system.
The Backing and SureLock Coating Technology has the fibers stitched into the
backing material in rows with spacing that enables cleats to penetrate the
infill material rather than the surface fibers. The permeable backing allows
for optimal drainage, something especially important during Northwest
Indiana weather swings.
Anyone competing on the surface plays on the infill and not the synthetic
blades of grass. The layered infill is a mix of silica sand and cryogenic
The bottom layer is comprised of the several layers of clean, washed silica
sand which stablizes and supports the system. The sand is environmentally
beneficial and accounts for 70 percent of the total infill weight.
The cryogenic rubber is from recycled rubber tires that are cryogenically
frozen and shattered into smooth, clean-cut granules. The granules resist
floating or displacement in high-use areas and are also environmentally
The key, according to FieldTurf, to the surface is the seaming technology
they use. All seams are sewn together rather than glued together for greater
durability. Sewn with a double-lock stitch, the panel eliminates seam
complications such as an uneven surface and the seams are hidden under the
FieldTurf boasts several benefits in its brochure including maximizing
playing time, increased revenue generation potential, a consistent
artificial turf for superior all-around performance, minimization of
abrasions, neural and joint injuries which will contribute to less time lost
due to injury compared to natural grass and offers the most proven, durable
and safest product in the industry.
“Through this process, we haven’t come across any school that doesn’t think
it’s the best investment they’ve ever made,” Nallenweg said. “And that’s
universal across the board.”
Numbers are a funny thing in sports and this is no exception. Those for the
project will see them one way and those opposed will see them the other.
“For 10 years, we’ve continued to battle a field that has been ‘nickle and
diming’ us,” Nallenweg said. “We’ve been putting thousands of dollars into
it and we’re at a point where we feel like we have a system that has
Nallenweg insists that there is going to be major undertaking on the field
one way or another.
“We are going to have to do major sub-surface work anyway, including a
drainage system, irrigation and soil work,” Nallenweg said. “We have to make
a decision as to what type of field we want. Do we stay with the natural
grass and go through this for another 10 years or do we tear it apart and do
“Either way, the sub-base has to be rebuilt.”
The Friends of Duneland Youth have put together a registered 501 ©
non-profit group to spearhead the fundraising effort.
The group has put a “Buy A Brick” campaign together with options ranging
from $100, $250 and $500 that will be included in the walkup area to the
Stadium, while also soliciting donations from the community.
“At this point, we have the Friends of Duneland Youth that have done a great
job of pounding the pavement to raise money,” Nallenweg said. “They are
primarily individuals that have kids involved in our extracurricular things
that will benefit from this.”
But, what about the rest of the money?
“No one’s taxes will be raised from this project,” Nallenweg said. “The old
formula for funding the public school’s has changed. It’s no longer property
taxes as the primary source.”
Can it really
pay for itself?
“Experts estimate that it costs an average of $50,000 to seed, groom,
fertilize, aerate, line, mow, water, repair in total man hours to do the
work on a natural grass field,” said John Snyder, head of the CHS PE
Department and head football coach. “With an artificial turf field you
eliminate seeding, fertilizing, aerating, lining, mowing, watering and
repairs. The only cost is maintaining, grooming and sanitizing the surface.
“The estimated cost of that is $5,000 a year. Over 10 years, that’s an
estimated saving of $450,000.”
Is it just a
Currently, the CHS Football Field is used less than 20 times a year for
“It doesn’t make sense to me to have that beautiful facility and nobody
using it,” Nallenweg said. “We’ve been averaging about 14 events a year on
the field. We literally put a lock and key on it in the off-season so it
doesn’t get torn up worse than it already is. We’re denying a lot of kids
opportunities because of that.”
Not only will it become a game and practice field for the football, boys
soccer and girls soccer teams, the field will get use from groups outside
“We’re talking about soccer, band, football, PE, youth programs and lots of
other things,” Nallenweg said. “The community needs to know that this would
allow us to expand and bring other events into the area. That would
certainly help the people locally that have restaurants, hotels and shops.
“I think this could be a real shot in the arm for Chesterton.”
The Trojan Guard Marching Band hosts the Indiana State School Music
Association’s (ISSMA) Northern Marching Band Regional, which is the single
biggest fundraising event for the program.
“Most of the schools where the band competes, now have artificially turfed
field,” Michael Scheiber, the head of the Trojan Guard Marching Band, said.
“Due to the state of our natural grass field, the band program is at risk of
losing this highly coveted opportunity.”
“We have a band that is dependent on the ISSMA fundraising they do at their
contest,” Nallenweg said. “They ran into quite a bit of rain a couple of
years ago and they are still recovering financially.”
Currently, the band practices in the parking lot between the tennis courts
and the soccer field, often forced to practice during games.
“Due to the condition of our current field, the band has been allowed to
practice in the new stadium a total of three times since it was built,”
Scheiber said. “That’s three times in 11 years. The Trojan Guard has always
had students that participate in other activities during the Fall marching
season. Because of that, band rehearsals take place in the evening after
most athletic events have ended.
“With minimal lighting on the current band practice field, the addition of
artificial turf will allow for regular access to an appropriately lit
practice facility and will give the student’s an opportunity for competitive
Snyder also sees a great addition to the Physical Education curriculum at
“Every school’s PE students use the field when temperatures permit without
fear of tearing up a game field or uneven terrain that can cause injury,”
Snyder said. “The artifical turf will also help with students that have
allergies and asthma problems.
“The fact that the field will have painted lines on it will help teachers
with the boundaries of various games that PE classes play (Lacrosse,
Baseball, Speedball, Field Hockey).”
Community groups will get the benefit of a safe place to play as well.
“The advantages of other outside organizations using the field is endless,”
Snyder said. “Duneland Pop Warner, Duneland Soccer, school clubs, whatever
the community needs, they’ll have a place to have it. Currently the stadium
gets used about 70 hours a year. Studies have shown that usage time can be
increased to more than 2,000 hours per year.”
Who else has it?
Turf fields have become the wave of the future with many area schools
turning in that direction.
“As I have traveled around to many other schools like Valparaiso,
Merrillville, Crown Point, Hobart, Michigan City, Hammond Morton, East
Chicago, Munster, Portage and Penn, they all rave about the benefits of
having a turf field,” Snyder said.
FieldTurf is currently used in 21 of 32 NFL stadiums, more than 100 college
fields and 1,000’s of high school and municipal sports installations
according to the website.
As was the case when the Astroturf phenomenon began, injuries are always a
concern. FieldTurf has performed a study on high school football safety and
on college football safety.
“Incidence, Causes, and Severity of High School Football Injuries on
FieldTurf versus Natural Grass” was in the American Journal of Sports
Medicine, Vol. 32, Nov. 7, 2004 and cites 44 percent fewer concussions, 33.4
percent fewer ACL injuries, 26.6 fewer severe injuries and 33.4 percent
fewer ligament tears.
“Incidence, Mechanisms, and Severity of Game-Related College Football
Injuries on FieldTurf versus Natural Grass” can be viewed in the American
Journal of Sports Medicine, Vol. 38, Nov. 4, 2010 and cites 12 percent fewer
concussions, 40 percent fewer ACL injuries, 20.6 percent fewer severe
injuries and 31.4 fewer ligament tears.
boasts being environmentally friendly on its website.
their information, installing FieldTurf can save millions of gallons of
water on an average-sized sports field a year. FieldTurf is also 100 percent
lead free and 100 percent recyclable and is a member of the U.S. Green
Building Council and Environmental Protection Agenty’s “Greenscapes”
it eliminates billions of pounds of harmful pesticides, fertilizers,
fungicides and herbicides used on natural grass that can run off into ground
water. It significantly lowers the use of natural gas and other fossil fuels
needed to produce lawn care chemicals.
On its website,
FieldTurf also states is eliminates fuel-powered mowing, aerating and
re-seeding. It eliminates grass clippings that are among the biggest
landfill contributors to the greenhouse effect and removes millions of tires
from landfill sites each year.