Welcome to AstroTurf
Since 1965, the AstroTurf brand has been driven by forward thinking ingenuity. Today AstroTurf continuously improves its system design to deliver playing surfaces with the most realistic, sport-specific performance, longest lasting durability, and sound player protection.
Welcome to the Second Half of the AstroTurf Century!
Louisville, KY – For decades AstroTurf has dominated the Field Hockey market and this still holds true today. No greater example of this can be found than at the NCAA DI Field Hockey Final Four being played this weekend. The four remaining teams are all members of...
Why build just one field when you have the space for more? After all, there is no shortage of athletes waiting for some field time in our communities. Whether it is a parks department shuffling schedules to meet the needs of the youth teams in their city or it’s a destination complex organizing regional and national tournaments, the demand for multi-field and multi-purpose facilities is skyrocketing. AstroTurf has definitely been a part of their fair share of these type of complexes and we are happy to share some of the amazing facilities that we have had the honor to be a part of creating.
These are just a sample of the hundreds of multi-field projects that we have helped design, manufacture and install over the years. The demand for these type of facilities are at an all-time high right now so we should soon be able to share even more great field projects with you in the very near future. AstroTurf is proud to be able to provide high quality, premium playing surfaces designed with performance and safety in mind. New multi-field projects are being developed all across the country giving you and your family more opportunities to compete and lead active lifestyles. The stages are being set, so now go play!
Welcome to our series of Five Minutes With… blogs that will feature interviews with AstroTurf’s staff of experts, partners, clients and friends. We hope you learn something about our industry and the great people associated with it. Today we talk with AstroTurf Director of Field Hockey, Andy Belles.
Andy, you’ve been in the sports construction business for 41 years, employed at AstroTurf for twenty years and involved with the sport of Field Hockey for just as long. What else should our audience know about Andy Belles?
I began my career in Fort Lauderdale estimating turf, tennis, and track projects. I have been involved in the design, manufacture, sales and installation of just about every type of sports surface imaginable. I am the past president of the American Sports Builders Association, a product developer and a patent holder. I have served AstroTurf as International Business Manager and representative to FIH, NFHCA, and USA Field Hockey.
What can/does AstroTurf do to support Field Hockey?
A better question might be what can all suppliers and vendors in the industry do to help strengthen the sport? In my opinion, the key for us here in the United States is the USAFH “Grow the Game” initiative. We supply support at National and Regional meetings, we put on educational seminars, tailgate with parents and friends and of course, contribute financially to this program. All this to help build more fields, and build them right!
That’s it? Grow the Game? What does that even mean?
According to Sally Goggin and Simon Hoskins, USA Field Hockey Brand Manager and CEO respectively, it’s that simple. Get sticks in the hands of more young kids. The more we can get young kids, all kids, girls and boys, picking up a stick, the more our ranks will grow. We have a great sport that leads folks to an active lifestyle forever. It keeps them focused on competing, it instills strong character, establishes a self-starter work ethic that makes them driven to succeed. What’s not to love? More kids, more clubs and pickup games. More games equals more interest. More interest equals more kids. Eventually, this all leads to more fields.
How does the surface affect the playing characteristics of the game?
USA Field Hockey and FIH have strict policies about ball bounce, ball roll, planarity, ideal depth of water, etc. Pile height is important to ball speed. The shorter and thicker the fiber, the faster the ball roll. Water plays an important part in keeping the ball on the surface by creating adhesion between the fiber and the ball, keeping it down on the surface longer with less bouncing or chattering. Water also keeps the ball rolling in a straighter line. It’s all about safety and high performance. AstroTurf’s Field Hockey product line meets all the necessary criteria for exceptional play and we have a long and extraordinary reputation in the sport.
You have been called “Mr. AstroTurf” and AstroTurf’s “resident historian”. Can you tell us just a little bit about your love for the brand and its history?
In the 1960’s I grew up listening to Howard Cosell talk about AstroTurf on Monday Night Football in prime time with my dad and brother… a very special memory. In the sixties technology was king. AstroTurf was a new surface that guaranteed teams a place to play and practice. Think of that. Before the invention of AstroTurf, I don’t believe there was a field anywhere in the world that could be guaranteed playable all of the time. That was the beginning of the reign of AstroTurf.
In 1976 at the Montreal Olympics, Field Hockey was played for the first time on any surface other than grass. AstroTurf totally changed the way the game is played. In 2018 we have 29 FIH Certified Fields in North America, all our competitors have just 2 combined. NCAA Field Hockey has been on AstroTurf longer than that. No one can remember when a DI championship was played on anything other than the AstroTurf brand.
AstroTurf has been the solution to sloppy fields and the creation of consistent surfaces. Indoor stadiums and practice facilities have thrived because of it. Our Magic Carpet system can roll out a FULL-SIZE FIELD in only 21 minutes allowing indoor stadiums to play a Collegiate game on Saturday, a NFL game on Sunday and run a major, full-size convention on Monday, generating major revenue unattainable without AstroTurf.
Research and Development? That’s us! The five million dollar AstroTurf test site at The University of Tennessee is the largest, most technologically comprehensive facility for testing and comparing artificial turf systems and natural grass. It is an independently run, 3rd party turf research facility managed by the doctors and agronomists at UT and it places an emphasis on athletic field safety.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. There is so much that AstroTurf has done for the sports industry that I could go on forever.
Yes I love the AstroTurf Brand. What’s not to love?
Welcome to our series of Five Minutes With… blogs that will feature interviews with AstroTurf’s staff of experts, partners, clients and friends. We hope you learn something about our industry and the great people associated with it. Today we talk with Todd DeWolfe, AstroTurf’s Vice President of Architectural Sales.
It has been said by your peers that you eat, sleep, and breathe synthetic turf. Where does that passion come from and how long have you had it?
Well, I was very fortunate to kinda “grow up” in this industry working for ProGrass and now with AstroTurf and the SportGroup after the merger. When I started in 1999 there was one type of turf fiber and very few variables. The turf world being not so complex back then allowed me to build on that base knowledge as the synthetic athletic field industry grew. It’s not so simple now. From products to testing the industry has grown by leaps and bounds. The industry itself is very competitive and you have to have that competitive mentality. You’ll hear many coaches say “Every day you either get better or you get worse. You never stay the same”. There is always something to learn in this industry and I love that about the turf world. The industry is changing and AstroTurf is and will continue to be on the front end of that science. It’s exciting to work with such a forward-working company and that helps drive my passion. Being a father of two great daughters helps keep me grounded…they would be excellent in turf sales someday for being forced to listen to me their whole lives.
The overwhelming majority of AstroTurf’s 2018 field installations contain a RootZone. Why are customers moving at a record pace to this type of system?
I can’t say enough about our RootZone technology. Competitors have never been able to fully replicate the quality of our RootZone in manufacturing. Before joining AstroTurf I had to sell against it all the time….it’s a lot better being on this side of the fence. AstroTurf has been manufacturing and installing RootZone longer than anyone else and it shows. I’ve been on a lot of fields, can’t even guess how many but the nicest field I’ve seen is a 6-7 year old RootZone field near home that Rich Jordan sold to Brighton High School. This field has helped drive the RootZone product in the Midwest and helped Aaron Klotz and I continue the growth in Michigan to where the majority of our fields in Michigan this year had the RootZone technology. The ease of less maintenance for hot spots, the dense carpet, less infill splash, not having to top dress as often as non RootZone fields really helps owners make the decision on their own. We’re changing the game and constantly improving our systems. What owners are buying is proof.
What advice do you give customers who are planning on retrofitting their field?
Do as much homework on the front end as you can. Learn as much about the industry as you can before you get pricing. You’ll be amazed how much the technology and mindset has changed. Know what you have under your turf and what your turf is, infill included. Keep your drawings and spec from the original installation. Don’t accept just that your field hasn’t had drainage issues that everything will be ok. Work with experienced contractors who have been through this and will be your partner. You get one chance to get this right. Set a realistic budget once you have done your research. Research warranties, products, companies, installations, fiber, infill, shock pads, performance testing, edge detail……Pick a system that will last and serve your community well for your needs.
We know that it’s not just about what’s on top, there’s a lot of other things that have to be done before the turf goes down. Can you speak to the advantages of looking for a field builder that can provide you with a turnkey project?
At AstroTurf we really are a partner. This is a long-term partnership with our clients and when the turf is removed we need to make sure that the dynamic drainage base is working to full capacity. Positive drainage, stone stability and planarity are three main components. Stone needs these three components, without one of the three you will have an issue. The pipes need to be scoped to make sure there is no blockage. We’re not 100% sure what’s under the turf until we remove the old system. Having existing as built drawings from the original bids will help. Again why working with experienced contractors is so important and the AstroTurf Project Managers and Operations team has some of the best and brightest in the industry.
The debate rages on in our industry about infill vs. fiber. Will you give us your take on which concept provides a better performing system?
Fiber has improved so much in wear and UV degradation since the start of the industry. Fiber is the most important key in the longevity of your system. Owners will have different performance requirements. Would we sell the same system to a D1 soccer program that we would sell to a American D1 Football program? No. We recommend different fibers and different infills to meet their performance requirements. Soccer is a kick-through sport and American football is a dig in and push sport. They have different hot spots for wear. You never play 100% on either the fiber or the infill. Infill can always be added over the life oft the field and it should be as part of your regular professional maintenance program. Fiber cannot be added. Once the fiber is worn out, the system is worn out. High face weight, high performance turf systems are the future. Higher face weight turfs may not be less expensive at purchase but in the long run they are more cost effective for the owner.
If you weren’t educating the world about the merits of AstroTurf, what do you think you would be doing?
Wow, not sure, I think I’d find my way back to the turf world one way or another….I’d have to say working in coaching or some other sports related industry. Now that I’ve been in the sports related industry world over 20 years I can’t imagine doing anything else.