Keith has been involved in the gardening and landscaping industry for the past 21 years. From a jobbing gardener to running his own landscaping services....
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Artificial turf is increasingly becoming the go-to option for many sports fields, in particular football fields, both in American football and soccer. But how much do turf football fields cost, and how does this stack up in relation to natural grass fields?
In calculating the cost of an artificial turf football field, there are several elements that need to be considered. The actual material cost, i.e. the artificial grass itself, is only one part as there are additional costs that must be included, such as the drainage base. Beyond this, the cost of maintenance and the disposal cost when a replacement is needed also need to be factored in to get a proper evaluation of the cost.
The cost of turf football fields can vary greatly based on location, size, and type of installation. A good rule of thumb is that installing a turf football field costs between $850,000 and $1,350,000, depending on the quality and type of turf used. This includes installation, design, equipment, labor, and materials.
How do Artificial Turf Football Fields Compare to Natural Grass
A synthetic turf football field is similar to a natural grass surface except that it uses a polypropylene yarn system rather than blades of grass. Synthetic turf is often the preferred type of playing surface in areas that can be subjected to extremes in terms of weather conditions or if it is likely to receive a high volume of use.
One of the main differences between a natural surface and synthetic turf football fields is the look and feel of each. Natural grass surfaces are soft, green, and lush, while synthetic turf looks like real grass, with varying shades of green and brown, it will have a sheen that is not present with real grass.
An artificial turf football field should be installed over a proper drainage base that provides the required support for turf fibers. However, artificial turf requires a certain amount of maintenance to keep it looking great and, similar to natural grass fields, generally needs to be replaced after a given period.
|Artificial Turf Football Field Construction Layers|
|Synthetic Grass Fiber|
|Base material that fiber clusters are sewn|
|Base layer of sand or aggregate|
|Secondary base, usually gravel or sand|
A Breakdown of Costs for an Artificial Turf Football Field
There are several parts to the construction of an artificial turf football field. These include a base, artificial grass, and infill. We will break down the costs into each of these areas to better understand how the total cost of a project arises.
Drainage Base Construction and Cost
An artificial turf football field must have a good drainage base in order to ensure that water runoff can drain properly and that the turf itself remains stable. This drainage base is constructed by compacting stones into the ground beneath the turf. This provides a sturdy and level foundation for the turf, as well as a way for water to drain evenly into the soil below. The gravel base also helps to keep the subsoil drainage system clear, allowing water to flow freely throughout the field without clogging the pipes.
The cost of the drainage base for an artificial turf football field can vary depending on the size of the facility and the amount of landscaping required. However, a typical full-sized NFL or MLS stadium will require approximately $4 to $8 per sq ft for this type of project. On a 70,000-square-foot field, this would equate to $385,000. This includes installation costs, site preparation, and concrete work.
If or when you are looking to replace your existing turf field, it is important to make sure that you properly check the warranty that the manufacturer provides for the gravel foundation and drainage system of your field.
Depending on the age of the turf field, these guarantees normally only cover the first one to five years of the product’s life. However, if a reputable contractor was used, you should find that the majority provide a lifetime warranty on the installations they do.
Artificial Grass Carpet and Installation Cost
The cost of the material including infill and installation of an artificial grass carpet for a football field can be anywhere from $3.75 to $8.00 per square foot and depends upon the quality of the synthetic material. The average cost tends to come at around $6 which, for a 70,000 square foot football field works out at around $420,000.
The lower-end turf carpets may not be as durable as the more expensive ones, so it is important to factor in the quality of the product and the likely usage when making a decision.
An artificial turf field requires several pieces of specialist equipment in order to perform the necessary maintenance to ensure that the field remains in optimal condition.
- Power Broom
- Vacuum Sweeper
- Surface Blower
- Sanitary Sprayer System
- Sprinkler System
Many people believe that artificial turf football fields do not require much maintenance because they are made of synthetic materials. However, this is certainly not the case. Artificial turf football fields actually require a considerable amount of regular maintenance in order to perform optimally and last their full lifespan.
These include tasks such as cleaning the surface, removing debris, sanitizing, replenishing the infill, and watering. Yes, although it is a synthetic product artificial turf still needs considerable watering. Failure to properly maintain an artificial turf football field can void the manufacturer’s warranty or guarantee.
The general maintenance schedule would include:
- Field hardness evaluation
- Sweeping / dragging
- Infill loosening and redistributing
- Infill level checking and refilling where necessary
- Leaf blower/vacuum
- Disinfection and sanitation
- Antimicrobial treatment
- Treatment for static electricity
Possible additional/exceptional maintenance requirements:
- Removal of snow
- Repairs to the surface
How long does a turf field last?
In most cases, an artificial turf football field will be guaranteed to last for 8-10 years by a manufacturer. If it is used regularly and maintained properly it is likely to last much longer with some still being good up to 15 years after laying. Other than maintenance the biggest determining factor is going to be used. Most high-school and college football turf fields in the U.S are generally replaced after 10 to 12 years of use as they experience heavy usage by high school and college athletes.
Removal and Disposal of Artificial Turf Football Feilds
One of the main problems with artificial turf football fields is their disposal costs. Over the last twenty years, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of football fields and other sports fields turning to artificial turf. Many of these fields, put down between eight to twelve years ago, are now coming to the end of their life and need replacing.
It seems at the time not a great deal of thought was put into what to do with the materials once removed. Although most of the fiber can be recycled into different types of fiber, in many of these fields, some of the other materials, such as the turf backing, are not able to be recycled. These have to be smelted or buried in a landfill, the latter option coming at great cost.
Then there is the infill. An average field contains anything from 300,000 to 800,000 pounds of infill which is usually sand, rubber, or a combination of both. This can be particularly hard to deal with and waste contractors don’t want to touch or are demanding astronomical fees, up to $100,000, to dispose of it in a landfill.
Currently, it would cost between $1.50 to $2 per square foot to remove a field. It is little wonder that alternative solutions to outright disposal are being looked at.
Reducing Infill Disposal Costs
Where there is a problem, particularly a problem that involves huge costs, an ingenious solution often pops up. With such huge disposal costs, the more aware turf contractors have found a way to process, sort, and clean the old rubber infill and reuse it not only does massively reduce their disposal costs but also the amount of new infill that needs to be purchased.
In recent years, several infill manufacturers, such as USGreentech with their ‘Envirofill’ product have started to produce infill that can easily be cleaned and reused. When the infill is removed they clean and refurbish it and put it aside for reuse when a new field is installed.
New Artificial Turf Manufacturing Methods
In the last few years, manufacturers of artificial grass have also begun to catch up to the issue of disposal. They have begun making their up to the product fully recyclable, including the backing base, thus drastically reducing disposal costs.
In addition to newer manufacturing techniques, there are some contractors who are looking to, if possible reuse the turf. For more professional sports fields in colleges and among sports teams the replacement cycle is likely to be shorter as performance is imperative. In these cases, the artificial turf that is removed generally has considerable life in it and this is now finding its way for reuse for high school football fields that might otherwise struggle to fund an artificial playing area.
If the turf is not in good enough condition advice can be sought from The Synthetic Turf Council which advises on disposal options. Indeed spent turf is popping up in all manner of different places from shop displays, golf ranges, and various other uses.
Summary: How Much Do Turf Football Fields Cost
It is clear that deciding to install an artificial turf football field involves quite an intricate installation process and then needs regular maintenance. Indeed the initial cost will outweigh the cost of installing natural grass, which would be around $600,000. However, although artificial turf surfaces require a reasonable amount of maintenance it is usually less than a natural grass surface would require, and over the course of ten or so years the savings would mount up.
Disposal though is another issue that should be considered at the outset rather than dealt with when the synthetic turf field needs replacing. As we have seen this can be a significant and expensive problem if there is no plan in place.