The Synthetic Turf Council’s (STC) 2014 Spring Membership Meeting, held from March 17-19 in Las Vegas, attracted 217 company leaders in the synthetic turf industry from around the world. Attendees included manufacturers, suppliers, installers, architects, landscape engineers and testing labs as well as maintenance equipment and service companies.
The educational program included presentations on the latest research and science on synthetic turf sports fields, player performance and safety. Chris Sherwood, representing BioCoRE and the University of Virginia, highlighted the importance of matching the shoe and cleat type to the playing surface in order to minimize the risk of injury. Dr. John Sorochan and Adam Thoms, from the University of Tennessee, reported new data on the relationship between various synthetic turf sports field systems and player performance. Dr. Steven Buchberger, from the University of Cincinnati, discussed research on accurately simulating stormwater runoff from synthetic turf sports fields.
Chris Nowinski, co-founder and executive director of Sports Legacy Institute and author of Head Games, presented on the risks of concussions to athletes in sports – particularly to young athletes. Following Nowinski’s discussion, the STC discussed the need to re-emphasize the importance of regular maintenance and testing of synthetic turf sports fields to assure proper resilience and performance.
There were concurrent presentations on synthetic turf for sports fields and synthetic grass for landscape and recreation use. Dr. Eric Harrison, a consultant to FIFA, the international governing body for soccer, reported on FIFA’s new guidelines on heat and maintenance. Leanne Walsh, from the International Rugby Board, gave an update on its One Turf initiative. It is exploring the possibility of creating a set of standards that meet the needs of a single artificial turf surface suitable for many sports, particularly at the community level where multi-use facilities are in demand.
Rick Doyle, president of the STC, moderated a consumer panel on the impact that synthetic turf is having in the region where water is rationed. Panelists included representatives from a local resort hotel, the homeowners association and the Southern Nevada Water Authority, which is providing financial incentives to residents to save water by replacing their grass lawn with synthetic turf or other hardscape material.
A pre-conference “whistle-stop” seminar discussed the many applications and benefits of landscape and recreational synthetic grass as well as the STC’s guidelines when buying synthetic grass for landscape use.
Other highlights of the meeting included an exhibitor showcase and a special report on the North American synthetic turf industry by the STC board’s chairman, John Baize of Act Global.