Administrators talk turf for damaged fields

Administrators+talk+turf+for+damaged+fields

Matt Gregorio

Poor field conditions due to rain have caused athletic-department officials to consider an artificial turf field.

Brandon Zeris, Copy Editor

In light of field problems caused by heavy rains, some coaches are considering an artificial turf field, and the athletic director said talks have begun about the possibility of installing one.

Women’s soccer coach Jim Herlinger said two Lady Cats games were canceled due to field conditions and others were moved.

“Kids lost class time because we had to move games to the (city’s Point Stadium). It takes a toll on everyone because times are changed, and they may conflict with a student’s schedule,” he said.

Although Herlinger said he typically prefers grass fields, he said he would welcome a new campus turf field.

“I used to be a purist, wanting to keep everything on grass, but I think for sports where weather is a concern, you need to look at other options.”

Athletic Director Pat Pecora said nothing is official, but a new field has been talked about.

“We’ve looked at some costs, and we would be looking at $1.5 million and up. It’s a big investment.”

Herlinger said the initial cost is high, but an artificial turf field would be cheaper over time.

“Drainage is the biggest cost, and you have some minor repairs over time, like replacing turf every year, but you save a lot on maintenance and other things.”

Despite the uncertainty behind the project, Pecora has some plans for its development.

“If we do it, we would want it to be an all-inclusive field for everyone to use, a multipurpose field like the Point Stadium, so we could convert the field for different sports.”

Sophomore baseball player Scott Zubik said he prefers turf over grass.

“I like turf a lot better. I never played on it before my freshman season, and I loved it. It’s hard to play on grass when it’s cold and rainy, so turf is good for that,” he said.

Zubik said the baseball team plays its home games at the Point Stadium, so it is hard for fans to support the team.

“I think if we got a new field, we could play games on campus and it would be better since we could get more fan support for home games.”

Rugby Club president Mike Ramer said he prefers grass fields, but would be open to a turf field.

“I like grass better, but field conditions get pretty bad during our season,” he said.

“If it were a summer tournament, I would love to play on grass, and I think a lot of people would agree with me – but, during rugby season, turf would be better because of the weather.”

Because the project is still in a planning phase, other measures have been taken to remedy field problems until further action is taken.

Pecora said other fields have been used for games, and other methods may be used to prolong the use of current Pitt-Johnstown fields.

“We have used the (Point Stadium) for games, and the debate is whether we should keep renting out places like that on a need basis. Maybe we could look at other alternatives like getting better drainage for our fields,” he said.

“You need short-term alternatives before anything because we don’t know when this will happen.”

Herlinger said improved drainage may not be enough.

“Western Pennsylvania soil is clay-based, so you can only do so much.”

Herlinger also said there is a potential safety issue with grass fields because players can lose their footing and injure themselves.

“Even the most zealous of purists can see that the chance of injury with turf is minimal.”

Pecora said it may be difficult to secure funding for the field, given other campus projects.

“Unless we can find a donor, it may take some time before this happens.”