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The City Journals

Out with the old, in with a new turf

Jul 26, 2017 12:25PM ● By Greg James

The scoreboard on Riverton High School’s football field stands at the far north end waiting for its new turf to be installed. (Greg James/City Journals)

By Greg James | [email protected]
The football fields at Riverton, West Jordan, Bingham and Copper Hills have taken on a complete facelift this summer.
“I remember in my early days teaching at West Jordan when I worked the chain gang watching Mike Meifu (current West Jordan head coach) break through the line,” Jaguars athletic director Scott Briggs said on the day he announced the hiring of their current head coach. The stories I could tell of the games I have seen.”
The glory, defeat and hard work on these fields is part of the lives of many of its players. The old grass, drainage systems and dirt will be gone soon. If the turf could tell us the stories of its past what would it have to say.
At Copper Hills, Sealver Siliga had many tackles for loss. As a Grizzly, he played many games on the grass on Garrison Field. Now he is a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but in his career he has played in a Super Bowl with the New England Patriots. The green grass has also been the resting place for countless numbers of track athletes during numerous track and field events.
The Jaguars home turf could tell the story of DJ Tialavea, a lineman at West Jordan in 2009, an All-State player who just signed a contract with the Atlanta Falcons.
The sidelines at Riverton and West Jordan were also the home to the late Rick Bojak. The legacy he left with his student-athletes will always be a part of their lives.
Riverton has had players like Brady Holt and Simeon Page begin their careers playing on its grass.
The new multi-use fields should be ready in early August. They will be marked for soccer and lacrosse along with the traditional football lines. The renovation is part of the Jordan School District’s initiative to make its playing surfaces top of the line.
Construction began in June. Copper Hills, West Jordan and Riverton’s fields had the drainage system and sprinklers removed in preparation for the new turf. Bingham’s new surface is an update to the turf it already had. The project in its entirety is expected to cost $3.2 million.
The natural turf that remained at the Jordan District schools had become outdated. The three fields under construction were the last to be resurfaced in the Salt Lake Valley. Fields with natural turf are prone to having uneven surfaces, animal and bug infestations and field breakdown because of overuse. The expense of maintenance outweighs the cost of the turfs initial installation.
When the field turf is installed it keeps its green appearance without watering. The surface is also durable and maintains its structure without constant maintenance, according to artificial grass liquidators. Players have complained of the heat the turf produces, but its installers say a cool watering a few hours before use can reduce temperatures drastically.
The turf is expected to last 10–15 years. It consists of a 2-and-half-inch-long blade with alternating layers of fine sand and rubber grit. The layers are placed on a drainage base of about an inch for water to safely drain off the surface. Maintenance changes from mowing, watering and fertilizing to brushing, raking and sweeping. Fieldturf (a turf installation contractor) officials said the field needs to be maintained properly for the school to realize its benefit.
Field turf is being used in places such as the University of Utah, the Seattle Seahawks and many other football fields around the country.