Here are some detailed synopses from the recent Technical Meeting of the American Sports Builders Association:

An in-depth look at ASBA Technical Meeting sessions

Indoor Division Presentation: Concrete Mix Design
by Lisa Szczupaj, Sika Corp.
Concrete mix design is a commonly misunderstood topic. However, the most problematic ingredient in the mix is the most inexpensive: water. An imbalance of water to other ingredients can create far-reaching problems which ultimately affect the viability of the project as a whole.
Some of the issues discussed in this presentation included joint types, including expansion joints, isolation joints, construction joints and control joints. According to Szczupaj, joints are often an afterthought in indoor flooring, but they are absolutely essential to the success of a project. Fillers and sealants were discussed, as was the proper use and placement of these materials. Substrate and surface preparation both were covered.
The importance of priming was stressed in the session, since proper priming of a surface helps achieve a better bond. Backing materials, both open-cell and closed-cell, were discussed as well.
Concrete surface preparation, in particular, was an essential subject that brought up a number of questions. Szczupaj presented materials from the Concrete Repair Institute, and passed them out to illustrate her points during the presentation.
Failure of a surface, said Szczupaj, is almost always due to insufficient floor preparation at some level. It is up to the flooring contractor to prepare the subsurface and surface, and to install the flooring correctly. If any step is left out or rushed over, the floor will not hold up in years to come, and will come back to haunt the project — and the contractor — over and over.
Fields Division: – Deciphering Your Soils Test
by Beth Guertal, Auburn University
A soils test is absolutely necessary, and essential before moving forward with any project; however, many individuals lack the knowledge necessary to understand the report. Understanding the basics of the report is not difficult and in large part, involves an understanding of the forces affecting your regional soils.

One essential piece of advice is to stay within your region for analysis. A local lab, noted Guertal, will do the correct extrantants given your geographic region. Sending the soil to a faraway lab will get a reading, but it may not be as accurate as one that understands what contractors, farmers and more are looking for in a given area.
A soil test report may contain information on contents that include some or all of the following: nitrate, sodium, sulfur, iron, magnesium, potassium, ammonium and salt. Other results that may be reported may deal with cations, which have a positive charge in the soil; this will be expressed as the Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC) of the soil.
Guertal noted that the soils report would also contain information on CEC vs. ECEC (Estimated Cation Exchange Capacity) values of the soil. It becomes essential to fertilize to manage the balance between these two values. Sandy-textured soils will have the lowest ECEC values, while clay soils will be in the middle, with loamy soils at the higher end of the scale. In general, ECEC increases as the soil clay and/or organic matter content increase.
Beyond the simple understanding of the values expressed on the test results, however, is the importance of the test itself. It is essential, noted Guertal, to code a soil sample correctly before sending it out for testing. For example, the lab representative doing the testing must understand that this sample represents a land for a sports field, rather than for a pasture, as a misunderstanding can skew the values. In addition, Guertal stated, a 3” sampling depth is the preferred unit for a soils test. Multiple tests can be drawn from a single plot of land, but all need to be correctly coded.
Track Division: Track and Field Orientation
by Duffy Mahoney, USA Track & Field
Synopsis: Occasionally, it becomes essential to challenge the old notions and ideals in examining track layouts. Not all long-held beliefs will be applicable to every situation.
Mahoney brought forth several case studies of projects on which he had been brought in to consult. In the first project, he discussed the importance of taking into consideration the prevailing winds that would be in effect at the time the most important competitions would be taking place on the facility. In the case of the facility in question, strong winds in May, June and July would affect athletes competing in short sprints and hurdles.
In another project, for example, winds were presenting a problem for pole vaulters. (“Don’t worry so much about the sun,” said Mahoney, “no matter what you’ve heard. You won’t hear complaints about the sun, but the pole vaulters really will complain about the wind so keep that in mind when you’re designing and building.”)
Next, Mahoney discussed track design, and the pros and cons of various track configurations. A standard track can encircle a standard football field, but a soccer field will creep into the D zones, as does lacrosse (but to a lesser extent). Other fields that will need to be considered when designing a track might be field hockey, rugby (which becomes a summer Olympics sport in 2016) and cricket (which is gaining in popularity as populations diversify in ethnicity).

Throwing events must be considered, and must be located safely. The integrity of artificial turf must be taken into consideration with some events, including the javelin and hammer throw, which need to be moved to a natural grass surface.
Mahoney, who had a well-attended session, entertained multiple questions near the end of his talk, and eventually gave out his e-mail address of and invited all those who had not yet had a chance to discuss their issues, to contact him directly.
Tennis Division: How Club Committees are Driving Trends in Design, New Construction, Renovation & Rebuilds
by moderators Ed Montecalvo, Har-Tru Sports and Richard Zaino, Zaino Tennis Courts, with Dave Richardson, Pelican Landing Tennis Club, and Paula Scheb, Bonita Bay Tennis Club
Clubs are in competition for scarce resources. It becomes essential for contractors to provide not just those resources for tennis, but for infrastructure that can help the club itself, including personnel, management and more.
There are trends in club management and structure. Clubs are becoming more centralized, and relationships are more important than ever. When it comes time to add, rehab or improve a tennis facility, committees can help by providing expertise, involvement, questions, any answers a builder needs regarding player preferences, and more. They are generally involved for the short term, with most committee members’ terms lasting about two years.
Committee members are generally frequent players, advocates for tennis in the community and in the club, and are key influencers when it comes to decision-making. The committee is charged with justifying the need for tennis (and tennis facilities) in the club, development of a primary plan (or at least a wish list), providing support for the builder, championing the project and construction, and keeping other club members informed.
Builders, on the other hand, are expected to educate clients, provide information on options available, and to stay in touch with the club and the committee throughout the design and/or design/build process.
Within the clubs themselves, pros and/or directors of tennis can play key roles, wearing many hats including financial (being in charge of budgeting), programming (directing and giving tennis instruction) and being the ‘go-to’ people for the committee and the builder.
Richardson and Scheb provided an outline of the duties and roles of each individual (or group of individuals) and discussed the importance of creating an open, transparent process. At the same time, however, there must be a distinct chain of command for concerns; a builder should not be taking calls from multiple committee members, and a director of tennis should not have the same responsibilities as a committee member. Each segment should be aware of its own responsibilities, and should have a clear understanding of the way to report concerns and ideas.
Richardson and Scheb discussed the bidding process they used when considering club improvements, and Richard Zaino provided a project recap, showing exactly how he had communicated with, and coordinated with, various parties on a large tennis facility project for a private club.
The conclusion all presenters came to was this: nurture the relationships between pro, director of tennis, committee and builder. Keep all sides educated and aware of developments. Provide feedback and support to all sides. This applies to new construction, rehab or simple improvements upon facilities.

Note: ASBA videotaped several sessions identified by membership division presidents and board representatives as being of particular importance to members. These presentations can be found posted on the ASBA website,