At first, you think Brandon Bailey is joking when he tells you about the sinkhole that appeared years ago prior to a home football game at Herlinger Field at Richland Stadium in Johnstown, Pa. But after asking the Richland High School principal and head football coach a couple more questions, you realize he’s serious.
During pregame warm-ups, a player fell into a six-foot-deep sinkhole in the grass field. That player was not injured, but maintenance workers at Richland High School delayed kickoff until later that evening while they filled in the hole and ensured that neither team was in additional danger.
“After that, we started talking about an artificial field,” Bailey says, adding that Richland installed its first FieldTurf surface at the 3,500-seat stadium in June 2005. At that time, school officials were told they could expect the turf to last a solid eight years — maybe longer.
In May, nearly 10 years later, Herlinger Field will undergo an overhaul with a new FieldTurf Classic HD surface — the company’s newest slit-film fiber, crafted to maximize durability and safety, as well as be aesthetically pleasing. Bailey says school officials considered other turf products from other manufacturers, but opted to stick with what they’ve come to trust.
The standard industry warranty on a synthetic turf field is eight years, but with proper care and maintenance, facility operators are seeing 10, 12 or even more years of quality service from their FieldTurf fields. Brushing, aerating, raking and sweeping should be part of the standard maintenance procedures.
The Richland School Board began setting aside dollars for Herlinger Field’s replacement years ago, a fund bolstered by the field’s rental fees and capital reserve money.
Customers such as Richland School District did not hesitate to turn to FieldTurf to once again meet their needs. Now, Herlinger Field at Richland Stadium should be set for another decade or more of football, soccer, marching band, and even softball and baseball action. “The only way we would go back to grass here is if we had another field with artificial turf,” Bailey says.