O'Fallon Family Sports Park Installing Seven Shaw Sports Turf Fields

3 May 2017

The Family Sports Park of O’Fallon, Illinois is about to get a major facelift with a new multi-sport complex set to open this fall. The complex includes seven new fields featuring Shaw Sports Turf, among other amenities. The new fields will be primarily used for lacrosse, travel and recreation soccer, and fitness/training activities.

With an anticipated 2,000 games to be played on each of these fields every year, the parks and recreation department of O’Fallon needed a playing surface that could withstand both wear and weather. A natural grass field could not stand up to this level of play. The durability of their fields was also important for attracting tournaments to the area. A resilient playing surface is essential; no one wants to travel 3-5 hours to a tournament that could get rained out or cancelled due to field conditions.

The community impact is also going to be huge. Not only will these fields open up many opportunities for local youth leagues, but also expand current programs and provide over 10 to 15 million dollars in economic impact in the community.

The multi-sport complex project is being completed through a cooperative purchasing agreement through NJPA (National Joint Powers Alliance) with contractor Byrne and Jones.

“Purchasing through NJPA allowed us to purchase the fields at a significant savings of 25 percent or so, and saved time to spec and bid the product. We had better control over the product as well. It saved us from cutting an entire field out of our project due to cost,” said Mary-Jeanne Hutchison, Director of O’Fallon Parks and Recreation.

NJPA’s cooperative contract purchasing leverages the national purchasing power of more than 50,000 member agencies while also streamlining the required purchasing process. As a municipal national contracting agency, NJPA establishes and provides nationally leveraged and competitively solicited purchasing contracts under the guidance of the Uniform Municipal Contracting Law. Joint Powers laws enable members to legally purchase through the organization’s awarded contracts.

“I was impressed with our Shaw Sports Turf rep, Nate Henderson, in showing us the different types of Shaw Sports Turf, as well as the quality when I compared it to other products. It just was a no brainer,” said Hutchison. “The ability to purchase this product through NJPA most likely saved us well over $800,000 with the turnkey purchase and certified installers.”

O’Fallon Parks and Recreation has also been impressed with the efficiency of the project thus far as all seven fields are set to be completed in just 120 days. “The time management on this product by Byrne and Jones and Shaw Sports Turf has been the most efficient project I have worked on in over two decades,” said Hutchison.

Overseeing the project, and responsible for installing all of the drainage systems for the fields, is Jameson Sheley, GM of Byrne and Jones Sports Construction. For Sheley, the greatest aspect of this partnership has been the similar goals that the City of O’Fallon shares: choosing a product built for safety and quality with the user in mind, not just a “better looking” product. Shaw was able to offer a superior product at an affordable price, and the entire experience has been a positive one for everyone involved.

The City of O’Fallon chose to install Shaw Sports Turf’s Legion Pro for its quality, weight, warranty, and turnkey installation. Created with a combination of high-performance monofilament fibers and a durable slit film fiber, the slit film fiber is a workhorse which will handle the workload. The monofilament component of the system features Shaw’s revolutionary Bolt fiber. Bolt is a stronger, more resilient monofilament fiber, featuring a lightning bolt shape which creates a stronger vertical axis that causes fibers to stand upright for less breakdown and increased durability. Bolt is specifically built for performance and to reflect light for a lower luster and more natural looking field.

To combat the Midwest heat, two of the fields will also feature Shaw’s own evaporative cooling system, HydroChill, which uses moisture to provide a cooling effect.

When athletes sweat, evaporative cooling takes place when evaporation of moisture from the skin’s surface has a cooling effect. HydroChill works on the same principle. As the turf surface is heated by solar radiation, moisture stored in the turf is released, leaving a cooler, more comfortable surface for athletes.

The technology is applied to a field where components react and form a coating on the infill. The field is watered to activate HydroChill and then energy from sunlight drives out water, removing heat from the surface. The cooling effect of HydroChill after watering can last two to three days. Watering alone can result in some short-term cooling, but a flash-effect means temperatures can rise and quickly exceed uncomfortable levels of heat. HydroChill creates a substantial and sustained temperature difference.

During the summer months the sun is positioned overhead, causing surfaces to absorb more energy, resulting in hotter temperatures. This is when HydroChill provides maximum benefit. Temperature differences of 50 degrees have been seen on an outdoor field. Studies have shown that temperature differences of over 30 degrees provide a noticeable increase in the comfort level of athletes.

The research behind HydroChill was extensive and was conducted for three years, both in laboratory tests and in real-world field applications currently in use by athletes. Shaw Sports Turf’s testing facilities include an entire lab dedicated to the study of heat on turf. It houses a custom-built solar simulator with a watering mechanism that simulates rainfall so testing can be conducted on a year-round basis. Tests on a variety of outdoor surfaces were conducted with thermocouples, an Infrared thermometer and by a certified thermographer with a Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) camera.

Innovative technology in the turf system and in providing more comfort for athletes in the heat have helped make this a first-class project.

“It was great working with a customer who did their due diligence in researching what companies/products were right for the project and weren't willing to accept anything but the best for their community. That is the type of community I think we all want to be a part of,” said Henderson, Territory Manager with Shaw Sports Turf.

A community-wide groundbreaking event was held on March 21st, and the turf is expected to be completed by August. The support structures, parking lots, etc. are set to be completed by this fall. The first event to be held at the new complex will be the Kixx Showdown Soccer Tournament, the weekend of September 15th, 2017.