Drought leads to synthetic turf in CA

If it’s good enough for the Dallas Cowboys, it’s good enough for Lake Elsinore.

Hellas Construction, which installed the synthetic turf that blankets AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, is going to put its product on playing fields at Rosetta Canyon Park, which is being expanded with the addition of sports fields and other features.

“The unique thing is this is the same company that did the Dallas Cowboys’ turf,” Lake Elsinore Mayor Brian Tisdale said. “I think it’s pretty impressive.”

City Council members voted 4-0 without discussion Tuesday to hire Hellas for about $1.2 million. The Austin, Texas, corporation, which has an office in Oceanside, will install 90,000 square feet of its turf on a combined football and soccer field and another 90,000 square feet on the outfields of five diamonds that will be used for baseball and softball.

Lake Elsinore’s decision to use synthetic turf at Rosetta Canyon stems primarily from the drought, said Tisdale and the city’s administrative services director, Jason Simpson.

“In talking with the water district, we thought synthetic turf was probably a better way to go,” Simpson said. “In terms of capital costs, it costs a little more, but we’re going to save money in the long run without having the water costs. We thought the trade-off was good.”

The decision comes amid ongoing concerns nationally about health issues stemming from the use of rubber pellets as the ground surface in artificial turf and the validity of its value as opposed to natural grass. Some suspect a correlation between the pellets and cancer, an issue being subjected to scientific scrutiny.

Many lawsuits have been filed around the country alleging artificial grass wears out prematurely, and with installers failing to live up to guarantees, often in cases in which they were not themselves the turf maker.

Simpson said he and the staff were aware of such issues and considered them when crafting the request for proposals and ultimately in hiring Hellas.

The company has installed hundreds of fields around the nation and more than 60 in California, including Perris’ Patriot Park, Rancho Christian Community School in Temecula and Murrieta Town Square in Riverside County.

Rancho Christian project manager Gary Barry said Hellas installed the school’s football field in 2012.

“The field is working out great,” he said. “We’ve had no problems with the field. As far as I’m concerned, they did a real good job.”

The turf Lake Elsinore is buying is manufactured by Hellas and will feature a thicker artificial grass mat. Rubber will not be used in the base materials, Simpson said. The city is receiving a 10-year warranty and has insurance on the warranty should Hellas go out of business.

City officials believe they can get 20 years of use out of the turf, and it should save about $80,000 per year in water and maintenance costs.

In choosing Hellas, the city rejected two lower bidders – $1 million from Purchase Green of Murrieta and $1.1 million from Asphalt, Fabric & Engineering in Signal Hill. Simpson said their bids were deficient. Neither company appeared at Tuesday’s meeting to protest the award of the bid to Hellas.

“They have a lot of great references, and they have a very high-quality product,” Simpson said of Hellas. “They’re a top-tier turf company.”

951-368-9690 or michaelwilliams@pe.com