Chesterton Tribune                                                                                   Adv.

Community field turf meeting set Wednesday at CHS

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There’s a lot of information involved and Garry Nallenweg wants to make sure its correct.

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, 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 rubber.

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 beneficial.

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 pile fabric.

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 failed.”

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 it correctly?

“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 Football Field?

Currently, the CHS Football Field is used less than 20 times a year for events.

“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 CHS Athletics.

“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 success.”

Snyder also sees a great addition to the Physical Education curriculum at CHS.

“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.


FieldTurf also boasts being environmentally friendly on its website.

According to 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” program.

FieldTurf states 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.




Posted 5/2/2011






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