The Groundsman

February 2015

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STMA REVIEW 21 the Groundsman February 2015 Visit for more information and digital editions I was particularly interested to learn that Rugby Town USA is also used by international rugby teams for high-altitude training. In fact, the England team is using the facility in the summer months prior to this year's Rugby World Cup – so ensuring a quality standard playing surface is paramount. Denver, known as the 'mile high city', and its changing climate means that maintaining pitch excellence at Infinity Park is a challenge. The grounds manager, Noel Harryman, and his team of three public works employees dedicate 40 hours of upkeep at Rugby Town USA each week. Frost covers are used intensively during the winter months and these are thoroughly checked on a regular basis by the grounds staff to ensure effective results. Proof of the fact that the grounds team has achieved and sustained high standards of pitch care is evidenced by the fact that it has won several STMA awards over the years, and judging by the way the team welcomed nearly 300 people to their facility, providing lunch and an informed talk, the enthusiasm that the team had for their work was clearly evident for all to see. A highlight of the talk was an account of the recent work undertaken to heat the pitch, to improve the pitch in the south west corner – a part of the stadium that doesn't get sunlight for the best part of five winter months. The city of Glendale believed it was worth its six figure investment, in the expectation that, with the new source of heat, along with the field's three- month-old draining system, more matches can be played at the Glendale facility during the year. "The field got too icy and hard at times, and with all the concussion stuff in American football right now, it was on my mind when we put this together," Noel said - responding to a question that has certainly been a high profile debate in American Football. "We never had a concussion because of the field, but I cringe at the possibility that we ever could. You don't want someone to slip and hit their head on a rock-solid surface. That was a big part of getting this done right away." Award-winning facility Infinity Park has been recognised as the STMA's 'Field of the Year' in Sporting Grounds for four of the five years that the field has been under the direction of Noel. An accomplishment that stands out because of the mile-high city's ever- changing climate. Rugby Town USA synthetic turf pitch (rubber crumb in snow) Infinity Park rugby pitch with covers You don't want someone to slip and hit their head on a rock-solid surface. That was a big part of getting this done right away " " Interestingly, beyond the rugby pitch was a well-used 3G synthetic turf pitch, which was used intensively by the local community. Evident though was a large spread of rubber crumb infill in recently ploughed snow to the side of the pitch and the surrounding area. Unlike the many 3G community facilities we have in the UK which are fenced in, this facility was an open play area, and due to the intensity of use on it raised some maintenance challenges for the team on site. The clear and important perception of the grounds team at Rugby Town USA was the honest enthusiasm and passion that this group had in the bucket load. Indeed, having had the privilege of witnessing first-hand the hard work and dedication of many of the grounds staff working at all the venues visited during the 'Denver on Wheels' tour, Denver's sports facilities are in very good hands. This combined with the rise of the European influence on working practices and how this was being picked up by our American counterparts shows the global appeal of all things turf and how non- traditional sports are moving up the agenda of the next generation of American athletes. l

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