A Synthetic Landmark

Chesterfield County officials had a unique opportunity in creating the county’s first public synthetic-turf field in Stratton Park.

A public-private partnership brings synthetic turf fields to Stratton Park.

But the idea was even better than that; officials decided to partner with the Richmond Kickers and utilize the multi-purpose fields adjacent to the private soccer group’s existing natural-grass and synthetic-turf fields so that the fields could be jointly programmed for larger events.

The plan was developed through a public process involving the Kickers organization and stakeholder groups representing soccer, football, lacrosse, and field hockey.

Design And Grading

The grading for the two fields was designed as one plane with a minimal slope of .0067, allowing flexibility of use for various sports. The fields are 210 feet x 330 feet with a minimum 15-foot safety zone.

A paved walking/jogging trail around the two fields provides access to spectator areas and a family exercise outlet. The area between the fields is programmed for coaching and players. A welcoming plaza with shade trees accommodates concessions and provides convenient restrooms. Reinforced concrete in the plaza allows access to the fields for both emergency and maintenance vehicles.

Building The System

The new synthetic-turf system’s appearance is amazingly similar to that of natural turf, with grass blades that are three dimensional and multi-color green.

The front-end cost for a synthetic-turf system is a major investment, so it pays to visit several installations to set realistic expectations for the appearance and performance of the system within the project budget.

A performance specification was prepared to allow multiple manufacturers to bid on the project, since each manufacturer had a different system to achieve similar results. Specification and bidding were a collaborative effort between consultant and owner, resulting in several “lessons learned” through the process (see sidebar).

Building a synthetic-turf system utilizing a traditional drainage approach begins with a sub-base layer of stone in a herringbone trench pattern around a system of 4-inch perforated tubing. Above this, a layer of geotextile is placed, overlaid with a dynamic base of dense graded stone and a fine topping layer.

All is compacted to 95-percent Standard Proctor.

Other drainage methods have been developed by the manufacturers. The option selected for Stratton utilizes a pre-molded drainage board of lightweight, injection-molded plastic tiles instead of the traditional under-drain system. The drainage board is made of 100-percent recyclable material, and forms a porous shock pad.

The pad allows for water infiltration and conveyance through hollow drainage channels on the bottom of the pad that slope towards the field perimeter. The pad offers a potential savings by eliminating the under-drain tubing system, decreasing the required depth of the stone base, and minimizing the depth of excavation.

It also allows for virtually level fields, with a minimal slope center to ends of .0067.

This paved path links the fields and provides an exercise area.

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