During summer of 2018, the turf stadium field was replaced with new turf and fill through a contract awarded by MCPS to Sprinturf LLC. As fall sports teams started using the field, it was clear that the field was noticeably more abrasive than the previous turf field or other turf fields in the Montgomery County and many athletes experienced abrasions, some significant. There was also concern that the playing surface was too slick, possibly increasing the risk of injury. MCPS was made aware of the issues and continues to test and oversee maintenance of the field.
Below we provide details on the steps that have been taken as of this write-up as well as questions we will be submitting to MCPS.
If your athlete(s) has sustained injuries that might be related to the stadium field, we ask that you please report them to the trainer on duty who will report them to the Athletic Director. RM has been asked to track injuries and report them to MCPS. To keep parents current with ongoing issues, we also ask that, if willing, you share new field related injury information with a parent volunteer who will collect information and make certain the school has a record. If you want to document the report with a picture, that can be helpful. send us an email
- June 2018 – MCPS awards contract to Sprinturf LLC
- August/September 2018 – Turf Installation completed
- November 8, 2018 – RM student testified about field related injuries at Board of Education (BOE) meeting
- November 28, 2018 – Email sent to RM Community by Director of System Wide Athletics – to report that MCPS Department of Facilities Management met with Sprinturf and assessments were underway.
- December 5, 2018 – Superintendent of Schools sends memo to BOE, indicating that the “MCPS staff has initiated review of installation and materials”. “Initial approach to reduce the level of infill and base mixture”
- January 2019 – MCPS engages testing services by Labosport and tests are conducted with a FIFA Test Method to test for surface friction (abrasiveness). RM field tested -128 while summary reported FIFA Requirements at +/- 30%. The coefficient of friction showed RM at .68 and FIFA requirements .35-.75. The tests also compared the infill at Einstein and at Whitman, and conducted tests on different combinations of infill and different types of installation techniques in the laboratory. The tests revealed that the combination with the lowest abrasiveness was the field at Whitman which had Zeolite with smaller particles and was installed pre-mixed with sand, testing at -20. The tests with the highest abrasiveness was the field at RM, which used ZeoFill with larger particles that was installed layered with the sand, rather than mixed. Einstein, which used the same ZeoFill as RM, but was installed premixed with the sand, tested at -59.
- March-June 2019 – MCPS turf logs show that Sprinturf does power grooming each month. Turf logs report that the fill mix is 96% sand and 4% ZeoFill.
- July 2019 – MCPS engages testing services by Labosport and tests are conducted using the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) F1015 method, which uses friable foam blocks and attaches them to a weighted platform that is pulled over the playing surface in four directions, and then measures the weight of foam abraded away to determine the relative abrasiveness of the surface.
- August 13, 2019 – Email sent to RM Community by the Director of the Division of Construction reports that as a result of January testing, they modified the infill layer to include removal of infill, deep tine aeration and multiple field (mixing the sand and ZeoFill to try to approximate the Einstein field mix) and grooming applications in addition to the ongoing monthly maintenance. He refers to the 2nd round of testing in July 2019. He states that “these tests confirm that the RMHS field has significantly improved since the previous testing”. However, the previous test used a different testing method. He states that the consultant advising MCPS recommends strategies primarily focused on a technique called “power brooming”, a process scheduled for August. This process has the stated goal to “change the profile of the infill mix to increase the proportion of sand in it.” The test compared RM to Einstein and Whitman that had new field installations in 2018 as well. At the 25 yard line, RM had an abrasive index of 55.8, Einstein 44.7 and Whitman 38.3, or RM had an abrasive index that was 45% more than Whitman and 25% more than Einstein. In the soccer goal, where the goalie is constantly diving in contact with the turf, the abrasive index at RM was highest at 56, while Einstein’s was 48.2 and Whitman’s was 43.7. The letter states that MCPS and the installation contractor “are confident that the RMHS stadium field is a high quality, safe playing surface for our students and community”
Questions for MCPS central office. These will be passed on during the week of August 19, 2019
- To better understand the extent of the issue, both initially and as remediation is attempted:
- Will RM or MCPS share a record of the number and types of injuries from the Fall 2018 and Spring 2019?
- Will RM or MCPS share a record of the number and types of injuries for Fall 2019?
- Does the record of abrasions and injuries include those to players from visiting schools?
- Have the soccer clubs that rent the field reported any issues with the field?
- Why was the first testing method dropped in favor of the second method? Are the results correlated?
- We understand that all sand fill products are not the same and that the original sand used at RM was “rounded sand” and the sand that will be added will be “well rounded sand.” Are there studies that show the relative abrasiveness of these types of sand? Is there a fill that would be less abrasive?
- August 2018 GMAX (test done to determine shock absorbing properties of synthetic turf playing systems) showed infill at an average of 29mm. April 2019 GMAX showed infill at 15mm and GMAX average has increased from 90 to 109. Will the increase of proportion of sand impact the GMAX average and when will the next test occur?
- Was the ratio of sand to ZeoFill in the contract proposal specifications for the turf replacement? We have seen other applications with a greater percentage of ZeoFill and the current steps are to further decrease the % of ZeoFill. How will that impact drainage, temperature and longevity of the field?
- Will the composition of the infill be changed significantly from the original composition?
- What is expected to happen to the field abrasiveness after the rounds or power brooming and additional service stop and we go on regular maintenance?