Wayne Sells Field to receive new turf


Brett Stover

Each day, dozens of athletes, band members and students use Wayne Sells Family Field to train, practice and compete. While the natural attrition of daily use has decreased its quality, the reason behind an upcoming change began off the field, not on it. The synthetic turf on the field may be replaced this summer because of a pending lawsuit.
In 2011, FieldTurf Incorporated filed a lawsuit in a Georgia federal district court that alleged “fraud, breach of contract and breach of warranty related to fiber performance” by Royal TenCate according to FieldTurf’s official website.
FieldTurf, a branch of the international company Tarkett Sports that provides turf, hardwood courts and tracks for schools of all levels around the world, specializes in synthetic turf creation. Notable stadiums using FieldTurf include CenturyLink Field, home of the Super Bowl XLVIII-winning Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots’ Gillette Stadium. At the college level, many stadiums including Michigan University’s Michigan Stadium, commonly known as the “Big House,” use FieldTurf.
Columbia Public Schools’ Athletic Director Bruce Whitesides said RBHS’s turf was of the type that FieldTurf’s inspection discovered to be defective, the cause for the upcoming replacement of the football turf. Whitesides said he was disappointed, however, to replace the turf several years prior to the end of its expected ‘lifespan.’ The life expectancy of most synthetic turf is 10-14 years, according to a study on turf feasibility by Township School District 214 in Illinois.
“To be quite honest, I thought [the turf] would last 10 to 12 years,” Whitesides said. “I think that’s pretty much the normal lifespan on synthetic turf. I’m hoping to [replace it] this summer.”
While RBHS will likely receive new turf, football coach AJ Ofodile said he hasn’t noticed any issues with the field. However, he does feel that the turf has been worn down in the years since its installation in 2006.
“With the sheer volume of usage because we, unlike a lot of other places, our field is open 24 hours a day so anybody can come in and get on the field,” Ofodile said. “I think just the normal wear and tear has just accelerated on our field more than anything else, but I’ve never noticed anything in terms of abnormalities.”
Along with Sells Field, turf from as many as 167 fields around the country are included under the lawsuit, according to the Wall Street Journal. Whitesides said Hickman High School, Truman High School, William Chrisman High School, Coe College and Central College were the other schools that would be affected. He also projects that the replacement process could cost more than $100,000 and be funded by the school district.
“Depending on settlements for the product deficiency, my guess is we’re going to have to pay for the actual labor to pick up the old carpet and put down the new carpet,” Whitesides said. “I’m thinking that’s anywhere from $125,000 to $175,000.”
Athletes were the most affected by the potentially defective synthetic turf. Starting quarterback, junior Logan Twehous said that while the turf isn’t in terrible condition, the wear and tear shows because it is open for anyone to use.
“It’s not uneven or anything,” Twehous said. “You can tell it’s kinda old and torn up on the ground. You know, you fall down once and you got turf all over you and then when you go to other schools and fall down and there’s nothing on you.”
By Brett Stover
Have you played on turf and grass? Which do you think is better?