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Chief’s QB Suffers Concussion from Head-to-Turf Collision

Last week’s NFL game play had serious repercussions for the Kansas City Chiefs when their starting quarterback, Alex Smith, and running back, Spencer Ware, were both lost to concussion injuries. Smith’s collision with the turf is yet another reminder of how critical...

Texas School District Puts Safety First for 8 Fields

How incredible would it be for a Texas high school football player to play on the same field as the Dallas Cowboys? Well, for one school district in San Antonio the student athletes are getting the next best thing. They will be playing on the same surface being...

EXPLORE BY CATEGORY

Brock’s Carbon Zero Program
100+ Fields and Counting
Shock Pads Reach a Tipping Point
NFLPA President JC Tretter: Artificial turf is causing surge in injuries
Forward Madison FC Finds New Home at Hart Park
1 2 3 4
Brock’s Carbon Zero Program

Brock’s Carbon Zero Program

This will be a company-wide effort and will analyze everything from how we dispose of a coffee cup, to waste streams, air travel, factory operations, and every area where we can find improvement. Some of these things may drive up our internal costs. However, we feel that just as the past decade was a decade of technology, the next decade needs to be focused on climate. We are a small company with limited influence, but philosophically we feel that we can set an example and show that being good is good for business. In advance, we appreciate your support and patience on this next journey.

100+ Fields and Counting

100+ Fields and Counting

Our program of testing and ongoing improvement continues. We are coming up on some fields approaching their 1-year birthday. Those fields will be tested again so we can document longer term field performance. 

Since the founding of Brock and our entry into the athletic field industry, we have always operated from a few key assumptions. First, the most basic competition in our sector is between natural turf and artificial turf. With still only a minority market share when compared to natural turf, there is still significant room for artificial turf to grow as an industry. Second, winning that battle requires artificial turf to meet the evolving needs of players and communities better than natural turf, and those needs include growing concern about player safety and environmental impact. Third, we can only meet those needs through innovation and the need to continually invest in R&D. Finally, our fourth premise is that artificial turf is a system, so while we can innovate in our components, we need to do so collaboratively with the other companies in our industry in order to win the bigger battle together.

When we started the development of BrockFILL, our goal was to contribute a key asset to the industry’s future, something we could collectively tout and be proud of, and that would neutralize a few lingering objections to artificial turf. We felt it was important to have an alternative to SBR or other plastic infills so when new issues arose, such as rubber being classified as a microplastic, our industry was ready. We are also highly sensitive to athlete feedback when it comes to things like heat. Coincidentally, during our development,  the NFL and NCAA both came out with studies indicating a higher incidence of lower extremity injuries on artificial turf than on natural turf. Regardless of one’s opinion on those studies, we don’t want the market to react by simply not choosing artificial turf. The industry needs a cost effective and abundant domestic solution – a surface that feels more like natural turf and avoids the various concerns over rubber. We knew that we were in a good position to pursue organic infill, because we could make up for its lack of impact absorption by coupling it with our Shock Pad products.

Thus, our vision was to help the industry as a whole, increasing the use of artificial turf fields for our partners and customers and let’s be honest, as well as for ourselves. We thought that since everyone is buying rubber, if we could find a replacement for it manufacturers would integrate it into their systems as an environmental and affordable option.  No one has an exclusive on any infill, so we thought a natural affordable infill would be embraced by industry as a “generic” like rubber is. That is certainly happening on some level.

It seems, however, that BrockFILL is disrupting the market more than we thought it would, or at least faster than we thought it would. When we made the business decision to manage BrockFILL as a proprietary R&D project, we did not intend to create animosity between Brock USA and other companies. We strive to provide the best service, products and support to anyone we work with, all for the benefit of the end user.

Contact sports are under attack, and we want to make artificial turf the SAFER choice for athletes so schools have less motivation to cancel their sports programs. The concussion problem was a major attack on sports itself. But we are now building fields that take away that angle against artificial turf. Heat has always been another health issue and is growing as the earth gets hotter. Soon the micro plastics problem now growing in Europe will arrive here in the USA. We as an industry need to be prepared to combat these upcoming challenges.

Our factory is ready, our capacity is virtually unlimited, and the fields going in are getting positive reviews.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SDN4QuXEcMo. We hope we can maintain a collaborative working relationship with all of the turf suppliers as this industry takes the next turn down an ever-winding road.

Shock Pads Reach a Tipping Point

Shock Pads Reach a Tipping Point

Based on the groundbreaking novel by Malcolm Gladwell, tipping points occur when more than about 20% of a market shifts their decision making. In epidemiology the tipping point is that moment when a small change tips the balance of a system and brings about a large change. With the data to support it, it appears that a tipping point has occurred in the design of sports fields. People seem to be more focused on safety and are moving away from the generation of turf laid over stone, to a more sophisticated approach.

Revolutionary ideas (or products) tend to follow this pathway through society:

  1. Innovators
  2. Early Adopters
  3. Early Majority
  4. Late Majority
  5. Deliberates
  6. Skeptical Mass
  7. Laggards

The segments of society noted above tend to fall perfectly along a standard distribution curve, though not every subject will make it through the entire curve.

As far as the more modern designs of sports fields we have now entered the phase of the early majority. It is kudos to all of you for initiating and driving this fundamental shift!

NFLPA President JC Tretter: Artificial turf is causing surge in injuries

NFLPA President JC Tretter: Artificial turf is causing surge in injuries

Injuries as a result of playing on artificial turf surfaces has been an especially hot topic as of late. Ever since the San Francisco 49ers marched into MetLife Stadium in week 2 of the 2020 NFL season and left with a whole heap of lower extremity injuries, players, coaches, and fans alike have begun to question the safety of artificial turf.

One of those people is the head of the NFL Players Association, JC Tretter. Below is an article Tretter wrote from NFLPA.com calling for change.

As a rookie learning the ins and outs of being a professional football player, I remember the collective groan that my older teammates made whenever it was announced that we’d be practicing indoors on artificial turf instead of the usual outdoor grass field. I played almost exclusively on synthetic turf in college. Once I started experiencing both surfaces interchangeably, I began to understand exactly why my teammates disliked the practices on turf. Whenever I practiced on an artificial field surface, my joints felt noticeably stiffer the next day. The unforgiving nature of artificial turf compounds the grind on the body we already bear from playing a contact sport.

First, a bit of physics: Professional football players put extremely high levels of force and rotation onto the playing surface. Grass will eventually give, which often releases the cleat prior to reaching an injurious load. On synthetic surfaces, there is less give, meaning our feet, ankles and knees absorb the force, which makes injury more likely to follow.

The data supports the anecdotes you’ll hear from me and other players: artificial turf is significantly harder on the body than grass. Based on NFL injury data collected from 2012 to 2018, not only was the contact injury rate for lower extremities higher during practices and games held on artificial turf, NFL players consistently experienced a much higher rate of non-contact lower extremity injuries on turf compared to natural surfaces. Specifically, players have a 28% higher rate of non-contact lower extremity injuries when playing on artificial turf. Of those non-contact injuries, players have a 32% higher rate of non-contact knee injuries on turf and a staggering 69% higher rate of non-contact foot/ankle injuries on turf compared to grass.

Earlier this year, the NFL and NFLPA tasked artificial turf manufacturers with developing a surface like natural grass that meets the specifications developed by our respective engineering experts. We also challenged cleat manufacturers to design innovative footwear that is safer and tailored to both players’ needs and to specific surfaces. There is no guarantee that artificial turf manufacturers will be able to create a product that provides as safe of a surface as natural grass, so we should not sit around hoping that happens. Until a product is developed that satisfies engineering specifications, we must take steps to protect players from unsafe field surfaces. In short, NFL clubs should proactively change all field surfaces to natural grass.

This data is clear, so everyone involved with our sport should be similarly motivated to make this switch. For players, we can be stronger advocates for ourselves by continuing to demand safer standards. For coaches and general managers, building a successful team is much easier with a healthy roster. For NFL owners, any decision shown to protect their most important investments – the players – should be a no-brainer.

Climate and weather are not barriers to natural grass practice or game fields. Cold-climate teams like the Packers, Steelers and Browns successfully maintain natural grass fields. Indoor stadiums shouldn’t be a barrier for grass fields, either. The Cardinals and Raiders have figured out how to provide a natural grass playing surface indoors. Agronomically, natural grass field surfaces are possible everywhere.

You might be thinking, “But I thought all fields are inspected?” It’s true that NFL-NFLPA inspectors evaluate practice and game fields through the Clegg test, which measures the hardness of the surface. The Clegg test, however, is extremely limited in its ability to tell us about the performance or safety of a field and is not nearly as comprehensive for what the modern game requires. Our union has raised this concern repeatedly over the past few years, and we believe it is now time for a complete overhaul.

Our occupation is dangerous enough, and the increased rate of lower extremity injuries linked to the field surface we are forced to play on is unacceptable. The NFLPA is advocating for teams to convert artificial practice and game fields to natural grass fields. In the meantime, we’re fighting on behalf of our players to develop better safety standards and testing methods for artificial turf. There is room for innovation by artificial turf manufacturers, but until the risk of injury on turf mirrors the risk on grass, playing on turf is not in the best interest of our players.

And finally, a quick note about our fight against the ongoing pandemic. As we unfortunately saw in recent days, the virus is still very much present in our communities. We know that there is fatigue by many in our league – and also across our country – about following protocols implemented to stop the transmission of the virus. If we needed a reminder about the vigilance required by everyone to do their part, we certainly got it. The playbook to playing a full season is very clear, and we cannot allow complacency to derail the progress we have made to date.

JC Tretter
NFLPA President

Tretter talks about how, “until the risk of injury on turf mirrors the risk on grass, playing on turf is not in the best interest of our players.” We at Brock would tend to agree with this statement by saying that not all turf systems are created equally. Our goal at brock with shock pads and organic infill is to get as close to a pristine natural grass surface as possible. Unfortunately, there are a lot of turf products out there that don’t get close to hitting this benchmark, resulting in injuries at all ages and levels of play. Head over to our website brockusa.com to see what we are doing differently in this industry and why artificial turf surfaces, if created properly, can perform just the same as a perfect natural grass field.

Forward Madison FC Finds New Home at Hart Park

Forward Madison FC Finds New Home at Hart Park

Hart Park’s stadium field in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin served as Forward Madison FC’s new home field for the 2020 season. FMFC, a professional soccer team competing in the United Soccer League 1, had to leave their home at Breese Stevens Field due to increased Covid restrictions in Dane County, Wisconsin, which prohibited full contact athletics. Luckily for fans, with some collaboration between the team and city of Wauwatosa, it was off to Hart Park for Forward Madison.

“In times in which events need to function differently for public health reasons, we’re proud to be welcoming a professional soccer team to Wauwatosa’s Hart Park stadium and encouraged by the multiple public health measures they’re taking,” said Wauwatosa Mayor Dennis McBride. “Fans and visitors to Wauwatosa can look forward to these fast-paced, energetic games while being safe in our community.”

Hart Park’s turf field was just replaced towards the beginning of 2020 in July. The surface is designed for multiple different sports and features Brock USA’s all organic infill BrockFILL, now a USDA Certified Biobased Product, along with an SP Series SP17 shock pad beneath the surface. The turf sitting on top of the pad is Midwest Sport and Turf Systems MST Pro-Blend turf.

“Hart Park needed a durable system seeing it is probably the most played on and practiced on field in Southeast Wisconsin,” said Ryan Anderson, vice president of sales for Midwest Sport & Turf Systems. “We are glad they chose our high quality turf and elite service. Most importantly, parents can be confident that their kids are playing on one of the safest turf systems in the state.”

Hart Park is not only one of the safest fields around, but according to some members of Forward Madison FC, one of the best performing fields as well.

“This field is much better than other turf fields around here,” said Eli Lockaby, defender for Forward Madison FC. “It’s cooler, it’s smoother to play on, it’s easier to run on and I get less sore. When it gets wet you can tell it absorbs the water a little bit and cools down the field and lets it play smooth. So, I personally like it better than any other turf field.”

Most of the Forward Madison FC players mentioned the heat reduction qualities of the wood infill being huge plus at Hart Park and that the lack of abrasion of the infill that went along with it was a massive added bonus as well.

“One of our guys has probably slide tackled 50 times on this field — Eric Leonard — and you notice that his legs have no burns on them. So that tells you something about it,” said Jim Launder, assistant coach for Forward Madison FC. “Everybody thought when they came out and saw the wood chips that it was going to be like ‘holy mackerel!’ this is going to kill you. But it is probably the opposite, it is actually kinder on you in many ways.”

Initially, many players were concerned about having a wood infill due to possible abrasion issues, but those fears quickly dissipated after a few practices and games proved otherwise.

“For me it was kind of weird coming here at first because it is wood chips and not the traditional rubber beads. But the ball rolls significantly similar to natural grass and I think it is one of the better turf fields I’ve ever been on,” said Brandon Eaton, midfielder for Forward Madison FC. “I know when we train on a rubber field on a hot day it feels like at least 50 degrees hotter then it really is outside. I feel the wood chips give a cooler feel than the traditional rubber.”

Forward Madison FC Midfielder JC Banks added to the heat conversation as well,

“In Rochester, we had turf and it used to get pretty hot and someone’s shoes actually melted on our field at one point just because it got so hot. It usually gets hotter on the old rubber turf and I didn’t feel that too much here. When we were here in the warmer months, it didn’t seem nearly as hot on the field and I liked that a lot.”

Along with the wood infill performing well, the environmental implications of having a wood infill were huge for the designer of the field as well.

“Sometimes new innovations come out and people are very skeptical, they don’t want to try it unless someone else has done it and it’s been proven. With this product, the Brock infill, I was so impressed by the amount of testing it went through and the comparative analysis to other products, it just really blew me away,” said Joe Pepitone, landscape architect at GRAEF in Milwaukee, WI. “Was there some trepidation – of course – we are trying something new. But I think the Hart Park project was the second field that we’ve done (with BrockFILL), and the feedback has been nothing but positive. It was difficult not to say that this is a better product even if it is a new product. And the sustainable factor is big for me as a designer as we are always looking at sustainable solutions. As a landscape architect it is extremely important for me to be considering that – to protect our environment.”

While Forward Madison FC winds down its season, the uncertainty of where their next home field will be looms.

“Obviously, our hope is to figure out how we can do it in Madison,” Forward Madison FC chief operating officer and owner Conor Caloia said. “All of our effort, all of our focus is trying to figure out a way with the health department that they’ll allow us to return to Breese Stevens Field and hopefully do it in a manner that’s safe.”

Brock’s Carbon Zero Program
100+ Fields and Counting
Shock Pads Reach a Tipping Point
NFLPA President JC Tretter: Artificial turf is causing surge in injuries
Forward Madison FC Finds New Home at Hart Park
1 2 3 4
Brock’s Carbon Zero Program

Brock’s Carbon Zero Program

This will be a company-wide effort and will analyze everything from how we dispose of a coffee cup, to waste streams, air travel, factory operations, and every area where we can find improvement. Some of these things may drive up our internal costs. However, we feel that just as the past decade was a decade of technology, the next decade needs to be focused on climate. We are a small company with limited influence, but philosophically we feel that we can set an example and show that being good is good for business. In advance, we appreciate your support and patience on this next journey.

100+ Fields and Counting

100+ Fields and Counting

Our program of testing and ongoing improvement continues. We are coming up on some fields approaching their 1-year birthday. Those fields will be tested again so we can document longer term field performance. 

Since the founding of Brock and our entry into the athletic field industry, we have always operated from a few key assumptions. First, the most basic competition in our sector is between natural turf and artificial turf. With still only a minority market share when compared to natural turf, there is still significant room for artificial turf to grow as an industry. Second, winning that battle requires artificial turf to meet the evolving needs of players and communities better than natural turf, and those needs include growing concern about player safety and environmental impact. Third, we can only meet those needs through innovation and the need to continually invest in R&D. Finally, our fourth premise is that artificial turf is a system, so while we can innovate in our components, we need to do so collaboratively with the other companies in our industry in order to win the bigger battle together.

When we started the development of BrockFILL, our goal was to contribute a key asset to the industry’s future, something we could collectively tout and be proud of, and that would neutralize a few lingering objections to artificial turf. We felt it was important to have an alternative to SBR or other plastic infills so when new issues arose, such as rubber being classified as a microplastic, our industry was ready. We are also highly sensitive to athlete feedback when it comes to things like heat. Coincidentally, during our development,  the NFL and NCAA both came out with studies indicating a higher incidence of lower extremity injuries on artificial turf than on natural turf. Regardless of one’s opinion on those studies, we don’t want the market to react by simply not choosing artificial turf. The industry needs a cost effective and abundant domestic solution – a surface that feels more like natural turf and avoids the various concerns over rubber. We knew that we were in a good position to pursue organic infill, because we could make up for its lack of impact absorption by coupling it with our Shock Pad products.

Thus, our vision was to help the industry as a whole, increasing the use of artificial turf fields for our partners and customers and let’s be honest, as well as for ourselves. We thought that since everyone is buying rubber, if we could find a replacement for it manufacturers would integrate it into their systems as an environmental and affordable option.  No one has an exclusive on any infill, so we thought a natural affordable infill would be embraced by industry as a “generic” like rubber is. That is certainly happening on some level.

It seems, however, that BrockFILL is disrupting the market more than we thought it would, or at least faster than we thought it would. When we made the business decision to manage BrockFILL as a proprietary R&D project, we did not intend to create animosity between Brock USA and other companies. We strive to provide the best service, products and support to anyone we work with, all for the benefit of the end user.

Contact sports are under attack, and we want to make artificial turf the SAFER choice for athletes so schools have less motivation to cancel their sports programs. The concussion problem was a major attack on sports itself. But we are now building fields that take away that angle against artificial turf. Heat has always been another health issue and is growing as the earth gets hotter. Soon the micro plastics problem now growing in Europe will arrive here in the USA. We as an industry need to be prepared to combat these upcoming challenges.

Our factory is ready, our capacity is virtually unlimited, and the fields going in are getting positive reviews.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SDN4QuXEcMo. We hope we can maintain a collaborative working relationship with all of the turf suppliers as this industry takes the next turn down an ever-winding road.

Shock Pads Reach a Tipping Point

Shock Pads Reach a Tipping Point

Based on the groundbreaking novel by Malcolm Gladwell, tipping points occur when more than about 20% of a market shifts their decision making. In epidemiology the tipping point is that moment when a small change tips the balance of a system and brings about a large change. With the data to support it, it appears that a tipping point has occurred in the design of sports fields. People seem to be more focused on safety and are moving away from the generation of turf laid over stone, to a more sophisticated approach.

Revolutionary ideas (or products) tend to follow this pathway through society:

  1. Innovators
  2. Early Adopters
  3. Early Majority
  4. Late Majority
  5. Deliberates
  6. Skeptical Mass
  7. Laggards

The segments of society noted above tend to fall perfectly along a standard distribution curve, though not every subject will make it through the entire curve.

As far as the more modern designs of sports fields we have now entered the phase of the early majority. It is kudos to all of you for initiating and driving this fundamental shift!

NFLPA President JC Tretter: Artificial turf is causing surge in injuries

NFLPA President JC Tretter: Artificial turf is causing surge in injuries

Injuries as a result of playing on artificial turf surfaces has been an especially hot topic as of late. Ever since the San Francisco 49ers marched into MetLife Stadium in week 2 of the 2020 NFL season and left with a whole heap of lower extremity injuries, players, coaches, and fans alike have begun to question the safety of artificial turf.

One of those people is the head of the NFL Players Association, JC Tretter. Below is an article Tretter wrote from NFLPA.com calling for change.

As a rookie learning the ins and outs of being a professional football player, I remember the collective groan that my older teammates made whenever it was announced that we’d be practicing indoors on artificial turf instead of the usual outdoor grass field. I played almost exclusively on synthetic turf in college. Once I started experiencing both surfaces interchangeably, I began to understand exactly why my teammates disliked the practices on turf. Whenever I practiced on an artificial field surface, my joints felt noticeably stiffer the next day. The unforgiving nature of artificial turf compounds the grind on the body we already bear from playing a contact sport.

First, a bit of physics: Professional football players put extremely high levels of force and rotation onto the playing surface. Grass will eventually give, which often releases the cleat prior to reaching an injurious load. On synthetic surfaces, there is less give, meaning our feet, ankles and knees absorb the force, which makes injury more likely to follow.

The data supports the anecdotes you’ll hear from me and other players: artificial turf is significantly harder on the body than grass. Based on NFL injury data collected from 2012 to 2018, not only was the contact injury rate for lower extremities higher during practices and games held on artificial turf, NFL players consistently experienced a much higher rate of non-contact lower extremity injuries on turf compared to natural surfaces. Specifically, players have a 28% higher rate of non-contact lower extremity injuries when playing on artificial turf. Of those non-contact injuries, players have a 32% higher rate of non-contact knee injuries on turf and a staggering 69% higher rate of non-contact foot/ankle injuries on turf compared to grass.

Earlier this year, the NFL and NFLPA tasked artificial turf manufacturers with developing a surface like natural grass that meets the specifications developed by our respective engineering experts. We also challenged cleat manufacturers to design innovative footwear that is safer and tailored to both players’ needs and to specific surfaces. There is no guarantee that artificial turf manufacturers will be able to create a product that provides as safe of a surface as natural grass, so we should not sit around hoping that happens. Until a product is developed that satisfies engineering specifications, we must take steps to protect players from unsafe field surfaces. In short, NFL clubs should proactively change all field surfaces to natural grass.

This data is clear, so everyone involved with our sport should be similarly motivated to make this switch. For players, we can be stronger advocates for ourselves by continuing to demand safer standards. For coaches and general managers, building a successful team is much easier with a healthy roster. For NFL owners, any decision shown to protect their most important investments – the players – should be a no-brainer.

Climate and weather are not barriers to natural grass practice or game fields. Cold-climate teams like the Packers, Steelers and Browns successfully maintain natural grass fields. Indoor stadiums shouldn’t be a barrier for grass fields, either. The Cardinals and Raiders have figured out how to provide a natural grass playing surface indoors. Agronomically, natural grass field surfaces are possible everywhere.

You might be thinking, “But I thought all fields are inspected?” It’s true that NFL-NFLPA inspectors evaluate practice and game fields through the Clegg test, which measures the hardness of the surface. The Clegg test, however, is extremely limited in its ability to tell us about the performance or safety of a field and is not nearly as comprehensive for what the modern game requires. Our union has raised this concern repeatedly over the past few years, and we believe it is now time for a complete overhaul.

Our occupation is dangerous enough, and the increased rate of lower extremity injuries linked to the field surface we are forced to play on is unacceptable. The NFLPA is advocating for teams to convert artificial practice and game fields to natural grass fields. In the meantime, we’re fighting on behalf of our players to develop better safety standards and testing methods for artificial turf. There is room for innovation by artificial turf manufacturers, but until the risk of injury on turf mirrors the risk on grass, playing on turf is not in the best interest of our players.

And finally, a quick note about our fight against the ongoing pandemic. As we unfortunately saw in recent days, the virus is still very much present in our communities. We know that there is fatigue by many in our league – and also across our country – about following protocols implemented to stop the transmission of the virus. If we needed a reminder about the vigilance required by everyone to do their part, we certainly got it. The playbook to playing a full season is very clear, and we cannot allow complacency to derail the progress we have made to date.

JC Tretter
NFLPA President

Tretter talks about how, “until the risk of injury on turf mirrors the risk on grass, playing on turf is not in the best interest of our players.” We at Brock would tend to agree with this statement by saying that not all turf systems are created equally. Our goal at brock with shock pads and organic infill is to get as close to a pristine natural grass surface as possible. Unfortunately, there are a lot of turf products out there that don’t get close to hitting this benchmark, resulting in injuries at all ages and levels of play. Head over to our website brockusa.com to see what we are doing differently in this industry and why artificial turf surfaces, if created properly, can perform just the same as a perfect natural grass field.

Forward Madison FC Finds New Home at Hart Park

Forward Madison FC Finds New Home at Hart Park

Hart Park’s stadium field in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin served as Forward Madison FC’s new home field for the 2020 season. FMFC, a professional soccer team competing in the United Soccer League 1, had to leave their home at Breese Stevens Field due to increased Covid restrictions in Dane County, Wisconsin, which prohibited full contact athletics. Luckily for fans, with some collaboration between the team and city of Wauwatosa, it was off to Hart Park for Forward Madison.

“In times in which events need to function differently for public health reasons, we’re proud to be welcoming a professional soccer team to Wauwatosa’s Hart Park stadium and encouraged by the multiple public health measures they’re taking,” said Wauwatosa Mayor Dennis McBride. “Fans and visitors to Wauwatosa can look forward to these fast-paced, energetic games while being safe in our community.”

Hart Park’s turf field was just replaced towards the beginning of 2020 in July. The surface is designed for multiple different sports and features Brock USA’s all organic infill BrockFILL, now a USDA Certified Biobased Product, along with an SP Series SP17 shock pad beneath the surface. The turf sitting on top of the pad is Midwest Sport and Turf Systems MST Pro-Blend turf.

“Hart Park needed a durable system seeing it is probably the most played on and practiced on field in Southeast Wisconsin,” said Ryan Anderson, vice president of sales for Midwest Sport & Turf Systems. “We are glad they chose our high quality turf and elite service. Most importantly, parents can be confident that their kids are playing on one of the safest turf systems in the state.”

Hart Park is not only one of the safest fields around, but according to some members of Forward Madison FC, one of the best performing fields as well.

“This field is much better than other turf fields around here,” said Eli Lockaby, defender for Forward Madison FC. “It’s cooler, it’s smoother to play on, it’s easier to run on and I get less sore. When it gets wet you can tell it absorbs the water a little bit and cools down the field and lets it play smooth. So, I personally like it better than any other turf field.”

Most of the Forward Madison FC players mentioned the heat reduction qualities of the wood infill being huge plus at Hart Park and that the lack of abrasion of the infill that went along with it was a massive added bonus as well.

“One of our guys has probably slide tackled 50 times on this field — Eric Leonard — and you notice that his legs have no burns on them. So that tells you something about it,” said Jim Launder, assistant coach for Forward Madison FC. “Everybody thought when they came out and saw the wood chips that it was going to be like ‘holy mackerel!’ this is going to kill you. But it is probably the opposite, it is actually kinder on you in many ways.”

Initially, many players were concerned about having a wood infill due to possible abrasion issues, but those fears quickly dissipated after a few practices and games proved otherwise.

“For me it was kind of weird coming here at first because it is wood chips and not the traditional rubber beads. But the ball rolls significantly similar to natural grass and I think it is one of the better turf fields I’ve ever been on,” said Brandon Eaton, midfielder for Forward Madison FC. “I know when we train on a rubber field on a hot day it feels like at least 50 degrees hotter then it really is outside. I feel the wood chips give a cooler feel than the traditional rubber.”

Forward Madison FC Midfielder JC Banks added to the heat conversation as well,

“In Rochester, we had turf and it used to get pretty hot and someone’s shoes actually melted on our field at one point just because it got so hot. It usually gets hotter on the old rubber turf and I didn’t feel that too much here. When we were here in the warmer months, it didn’t seem nearly as hot on the field and I liked that a lot.”

Along with the wood infill performing well, the environmental implications of having a wood infill were huge for the designer of the field as well.

“Sometimes new innovations come out and people are very skeptical, they don’t want to try it unless someone else has done it and it’s been proven. With this product, the Brock infill, I was so impressed by the amount of testing it went through and the comparative analysis to other products, it just really blew me away,” said Joe Pepitone, landscape architect at GRAEF in Milwaukee, WI. “Was there some trepidation – of course – we are trying something new. But I think the Hart Park project was the second field that we’ve done (with BrockFILL), and the feedback has been nothing but positive. It was difficult not to say that this is a better product even if it is a new product. And the sustainable factor is big for me as a designer as we are always looking at sustainable solutions. As a landscape architect it is extremely important for me to be considering that – to protect our environment.”

While Forward Madison FC winds down its season, the uncertainty of where their next home field will be looms.

“Obviously, our hope is to figure out how we can do it in Madison,” Forward Madison FC chief operating officer and owner Conor Caloia said. “All of our effort, all of our focus is trying to figure out a way with the health department that they’ll allow us to return to Breese Stevens Field and hopefully do it in a manner that’s safe.”

2021 Winter Webinar

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