The Maryland SoccerPlex and Grass Roots, a cooperative agreement between the United States Department of Agriculture and the National Turfgrass Federation, have partnered to create an interactive sport field and lawn exhibit scheduled to open in September.
Construction started on the exhibit started in March and is situated in front of the ticket booth on the south lawn of Maureen Hendricks Field, the SoccerPlex’s stadium field.
“We are very excited to partner with Grass Roots and to have such an interactive and educational exhibit at the Maryland SoccerPlex,” says Maryland SoccerPlex Executive Director Trish Heffelfinger. “The exhibit will highlight new technologies in the turfgrass industry, and the effects of turfgrass and lawns on the environment. It will also, hopefully, lead to further scientific breakthroughs.”
The first part of construction completed were the sports fields — four large beds that showcase Kentucky bluegrass, bermuda, Zeon Zoysia and Artificial Turf. The four turf grasses can be used in various projects depending on factors such as climate and type of usage.
Of the four turfs, particular interest will focus on how Zeon holds up to high traffic and consistent usage, as is the case with bermuda and bluegass fields at the SoccerPlex. Based on results of the exhibit, Zeon could potentially be used for more sports fields, according to a press release.
Later in the spring, an additional 12 cool- and warm-season turf types from around the country will be added at the bottom of the exhibit area.
Prior to the official opening, other elements of the exhibit to be added include a kiosk featuring information on common turf diseases and pests, an irrigation systems exhibit, a history walkway and a rain garden.
“Collaborating with the Maryland SoccerPlex made sense on so many levels,” says Kevin Morris, president of the National Turfgrass Federation. “Right from the beginning Trish (Heffelfinger) offered to not only help with funding, but offered the expertise of SoccerPlex Director of Grounds Ryan Bjorn and his crew. We are just two months into the project and Trish, Ryan and his entire crew have gone above and beyond.”