Eleven new Sprinturf athletic fields on New York City’s Randall’s Island, part of the largest project aimed at renovating athletic fields in the United States, are already getting rave reviews.
Sprinturf is an industry leading U.S. provider of synthetic turf systems. The Randall’s Island fields featuring Sprinturf’s UltrabladeTM DF synthetic turf system with CoolFillTM, cover an impressive 1.1 million square feet. The mammoth undertaking, led by the Randall’s Island Sports Foundation and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, includes the renovation of more than 65 athletic fields on the island.
“It was extremely rewarding for us that New York City, The Randall’s Island Sports Foundation and Tully Construction Company (General Contractor for Randall’s Island Project) selected Sprinturf to install these fields,” said Sprinturf president and CEO Stanley H. Greene. “The eleven Sprinturf fields were completed on May 15 and we couldn’t be more proud. This is an outstanding facility and to have a showcase of more than one million square feet of Sprinturf Ultrablade DF spread across this entire island making it a truly amazing site.”
This sentiment was echoed by Drew Fautley, coach of the USA Rugby women’s national champion New York Rugby Club, “to play on these awesome fields and to have a NYC view, water and the RFK Bridge (formerly the Triborough Bridge) watching over us! Amazing! Very cool experience. Bravo to all involved.”
Randall’s Island Park has more than 700,000 visitors each year. Randall’s Island sits in the East River, part of the borough of Manhattan. The project, first conceived nearly seven years ago, is about 65 percent complete.
The multi-use fields are available to soccer, lacrosse, rugby, field hockey, football, baseball and softball players. “The Parks Department is getting all kinds of requests to play on the new Sprinturf fields,” says Aimee Boden, Executive Director of the Randall’s Island Sports Foundation, “Sprinturf really has been an outstanding partner in this effort. From the quality of their product to the professionalism of their installation crews and the service we’ve received throughout the project, we couldn’t be more pleased. Everyone who uses the fields on Randall’s Island knows the Sprinturf fields are playable in any weather so they’re already a hit.”
And there was plenty of hitting when five of the new Sprinturf fields at Ward Meadow under the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge opened on March 28th. The first event held on these fields was a 48-team national rugby tournament, the Four Leaf 15s, the first American rugby tournament held exclusively on synthetic turf. Players said the new surface played true despite some wet weather that morning.
“The turf fields are a welcome relief. The fields are uniform in coverage and always level. The field conditions were incredible as they provided excellent footing for the players and the Sprinturf fields did not give turf burns. Drainage is great and even in very wet conditions; the fields did not have any standing water. The turf fields make playing rugby in the City a considerably more rewarding experience,” commented Pat O’Keefe of the Village Lions RFC after hosting the inaugural rugby tournament on April 28th at the Randall’s Island complex.
More importantly, the rugby players also believe Sprinturf reduces injuries. “It’s a lot easier on the knees, it’s a lot easier on the joints, too,” said Jackie Finlan, a player for the women’s Village Lions club. Will Mullin, who plays on the men’s side for the Lions, said, “I’m less worried about screwing up my knees and catching a pot hole or something.”
The last two fields, at Sunken Garden, opened this month, bringing the total number of Sprinturf fields at the south end of Randall’s Island to 11. The southern tip of the island, formerly Ward’s Island, was connected to Randall’s Island using landfill in the 1930’s.
Sprinturf’s commitment to on-going service beyond the installation and the turf’s ability to stand up to the heaviest use were among the factors taken into consideration during the bid phase. “We visited other Sprinturf fields in the area like Mitchel Field in Nassau County. We saw how well the fields held up. We know we are getting real value with Sprinturf. We believe in their product and we believe in the company,” said Boden. With the size and scope of this project, there were a number of entities that were involved, including the Metropolitan New York Rugby Football Union. President Toby Butterfield commented, “I highly recommend working with Sprinturf. Their product is excellent. They were responsive and accurate in their assessments of how the job would progress. They worked out how to incorporate the equipment our sport requires. Rugby players are demanding and unforgiving when it comes to artificial turf fields, but I hear nothing but compliments and praise about the playing surfaces Sprinturf installed at Randall’s Island.”
Synthetic turf was a must after the Randall’s Island Sports Foundation gathered feedback from users. Athletes were constantly frustrated when wet weather closed the fields, often for more than a day, to preserve the grass. Additionally, synthetic turf can save the city hundreds of thousands of dollars each year by reducing the maintenance costs. For one thing, synthetic turf eliminates the need for pesticides and fertilizers. The Parks Department struggled to grow grass at Sunken Meadow, because of the East River’s salt air and the shadows cast by the RFK Bridge.
The Sprinturf fields will be green 365 days a year and new lighting will lengthen the playing days. Synthetic turf surfaces also relieve the stress on the rest of the natural turf fields at Randall’s Island Park.
“We are thrilled because we know that we’ve been able to create a world-class recreation area that is safe for athletes of all ages and can withstand the amount of play these fields will receive each year,” added Boden.
When it’s finished, the Randall’s Island redevelopment project will increase New York City’s ball fields by more than five percent and Manhattan’s by about 30 percent. Before the fields were installed, the unique renovation project also required new and upgraded gas lines, wet utilities and electrical infrastructure. A comprehensive storm water management plan aims not only at preserving the athletic fields but also the new salt marsh and freshwater wetlands.
Robert Moses designed the park and athletic fields in the 1930’s. A pedestrian bridge connecting the island to Manhattan was built in 1951 aiming to give residents of East Harlem increased access to public green spaces.
Randall’s Island was purchased from Native Americans by Dutch Governor Wouter Van Twiller in 1637 and used for farming. British army engineer John Montresor bought the island in 1772 and lived on it with his wife until the Revolutionary War forced him to deploy. The British evacuated New York City in 1783 and it was confiscated. Jonathan Randal bought it in 1784. His heirs sold it to the city in 1835 for $60,000.