Record-setting artificial turf job no worry to its installers |

Record-setting artificial turf job no worry to its installers

Rob Sabo


A regional park in Sparks will represent the largest installation of artificial turf anywhere in the world, but the company that’s handling the job says it simply will handle the work one field at a time.

The Sparks Department of Parks and Recreation spent two years researching types of artificial turf and their manufacturers to choose the best type and supplier for the 1.2 million square feet of turf to be installed at Golden Eagle Regional Park in Spanish Springs.

The Sparks City Council awarded a contract for $4,669,261 its largest public works project ever to purchase turf from Montreal-based FieldTurf Tarkett. Work at the park began last week.

Stan Scherer, director of the parks and recreation department, gained insight into the turf industry by researching existing fields in other cities. FieldTurf’s size and steadiness were also determining factors in its selection.

“Everybody’s (product) is slightly different,” Scherer says. “FieldTurf is the largest, so we had a great deal of confidence with their company stability and knew they will be around long enough to honor the warranty on product.”

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Scherer says FieldTurf’s warranty extends for eight years, the typical life expectancy of most turf products. But the city expects the turf will last longer.

Timing of a major development in Sparks was a key factor in the choice to purchase turf.

Scherer says Legends at Sparks Marina developer RED Development purchased Don Mello Sports Complex and leased it back to the city for $1 until replacement fields were available at Golden Eagle. Razing the well-used Don Mello cannot continue until those new fields are ready, and natural grass fields take 12 to 18 months to mature.

“To allow access to the (Don Mello) site, turf was the only alternative we had to meet critical deadlines,” Scherer says.

The contract provides a huge boost to FieldTurf Tarkett, which manufactures turf at its Dalton, Ga., facility. Darren Gill, director of marketing, says his company’s sales team worked hard to land the coveted contract.

“There is no doubt this has been one of our toughest jobs,” Gills says. “We will do 450 to 500 fields this year, but nothing of this magnitude has ever been done in our industry. This is a landmark job, and we are extremely excited to be selected by the City of Sparks.

“Every competitor in our industry saw the huge potential in this job,” he adds. “It is a very important project, and there are a lot of very disappointed companies.”

FieldTurf has carpeted the practice and playing facilities of many professional organizations, and Gills says FieldTurf’s reputation won the company the contract. “We have done large jobs before. We are set up extremely well from a manufacturing standpoint. We own our plant, so we control manufacturing timing and quality. When it comes to installers we will dedicate resources as needed.”

FieldTurf Tarkett is the parent company of FieldTurf Builders, which has crews on the West Coast that perform roughly 60 to 80 turf installations a year. Scherer says the first phase of the job is set to be completed by March, and the rest by next summer.

Although massive, the project will be completed field-by-field, with turf hauled in 15-foot widths and lengths determined by the size of the field. Lateral seams are stitched to form a single piece of carpet. More than 260,000 car tires will be frozen and shattered to create the smooth-sided spherical particles that mix with sand and create part of the base.

“Whether we are installing 13 fields at one location or 13 different ones around the world, it’s really the same thing for us,” Gill says. “There are challenges in every project with logistics and such, and at same time this is our bread and butter. This is why we are the largest in business and why we intend to stay there.”