The city of Sparks is not pursuing the replacement of artificial turf on three multi-purpose fields at the Golden Eagle Regional Park sports complex under the turf’s warranty, a city official said.
Dan Marran, contracts and risk manager for the city, said the city doesn’t think the turf is defective.
“I think it may have been a tough assumption eight years after installation to expect a full replacement,” he said in an interview.
An industry expert told The Sparks Tribune that he believes the turf’s fibers are defective.
The turf contains the same fibers that have led to lawsuits and the replacement of fields across the country under the turf’s warranty because the fibers wear out prematurely and break apart.
The city’s eight-year warranty with FieldTurf, the company that sold and installed the artificial turf, expires next year. The turf on the multi-purpose fields, covering about 330,000 square feet, cost the city about $1.4 million. The city purchased the turf in 2007, and installation was completed the next year.
The Sparks Tribune conducted a test on the artificial turf at the fields last week by grabbing the fibers by the thumb and finger. The fibers broke off when pulled. When the same test was performed on the artificial turf on the park’s baseball fields, the fibers did not break off. The artificial turf on the baseball fields, which was also sold by FieldTurf, is a different product.
In 2011, FieldTurf filed a lawsuit against TenCate, the supplier of the fibers. In the court complaint, FieldTurf said it built more than 100 fields using defective fibers that are degrading prematurely and that customers were looking to FieldTurf to replace their failing fields. The suit was settled out of court in 2014.
The city learned of the defective turf in a 2012 letter it received from FieldTurf. FieldTurf wrote about the defect and the lawsuit, providing notice to the city that it may have received a subpoena from the fiber supplier. The Sparks Tribune obtained a copy of the letter from the city.
“Approximately two years ago, FieldTurf became concerned about the premature degradation of some of our older monofilament fields,” the letter reads in part. “This accelerated degradation was occurring on certain fields manufactured with a fiber sold to us by TenCate…”
Marran said the city has not had any discussions with FieldTurf on replacing the field through the warranty. He called the concerns with the turf a “relatively minor aesthetic issue on an eight-year-old surface.”
The fields are playable and safe, which are the city’s primary concerns, he said.
FieldTurf representatives inspected the turf in July at the city’s request, and a company official followed up with Marran in an email message.
“As communicated on-site, the 3 fields are wearing at a rate that is consistent with their age and use,” Martin Olinger, FieldTurf’s senior vice president for sales, wrote in the email. “There are a few areas in the yellow lines that may need some replacement, but overall the fields were in very good shape. As discussed, the fields are now nearly 8 years old and you will continue to see more fiber breakage with use as the fields age—this is normal.”
FieldTurf has agreed to groom and scrape the fields, which it says will improve their appearance, at no cost to the city.
Marran said the city doesn’t know whether the faulty fibers and the lawsuit by FieldTurf are directly tied to the turf at Golden Eagle Regional Park.
“That’s not entirely our concern,” he said in an interview. “We expressed concerns about the aesthetics of the fields, and they (FieldTurf) are addressing those at their cost.”
If FieldTurf had decided it wasn’t going to do anything, he said, “we may look at evidence of failures elsewhere, but at this point they’ve been responsive to us…”
Other FieldTurf customers have had different outcomes and reactions.
For instance, the Arlington (Texas) School District sued FieldTurf for artificial turf installed in 2007 at two high school fields, according to a June 2014 report in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. That report quoted from a prepared statement issued by Darren Gill, a FieldTurf marketing executive, who said FieldTurf would honor the warranty and that the lawsuit has nothing to do with the safety and performance of FieldTurf’s fields.
In another case, FieldTurf agreed to replace the turf on a California high school field that was installed at about the same time as the turf at Golden Eagle Regional Park. FieldTurf informed the Valley Center-Pauma Unified School District in California that the turf had deficiencies in the manufacturing and offered to replace it through the warranty, which expires in 2016, according to a district memo.
The Poway Unified School District in California also received a replacement offer under the warranty with FieldTurf for failing turf at four school fields, according to a district report issued in March.
The Sparks Tribune first reported on the artificial turf issues at the Sparks park in May. At that time, the city’s parks and recreation director, Tracy Domingues, said the turf on the multi-purpose fields had deteriorated, particularly compared with the artificial surface on the park’s other fields.
“They are experiencing a different type of degradation than the other fields,” Domingues told the Sparks Tribune. “The fibers are literally breaking off.”
Domingues said she noticed the fibers breaking off a few years ago while attending a football game.