Home field advantage | TheUnion.com

Home field advantage

When Grass Valley’s Samba Soccer looked to replace its well-worn indoor field a few months ago, the search was daunting. Cost estimates for an artificial field increased with each company, all of which were located around the country.

Despite the frustration with far-off companies, Samba Co-owner Imed Dossy did not think he would find such a specialized business locally. That’s when, to Dossy’s surprise, he accidentally stumbled onto SportFields during an Internet search.

The Grass Valley-based company installs synthetic turf sports fields around the United States. For more than two years, the company has installed fields for high schools and colleges in towns such as Folsom and Rancho Cordova, company partner Darrell Brown said.

The company is run by Brown and two of his brothers – Matt, vice president of operations, and Dave, vice president of sales. Dana Wanlass is vice president of engineering. Matt Brown had installed similar fields for a competitor when the siblings decided to take all their money and invest in the business.

Since then, SportFields has climbed to 18 employees. Installers for the company travel around the country nine months a year, laying down fields. They also offer turf installation for lawns.

The turf is comprised of a soft grass “yarn” made of 100 percent polyethylene, with an in-fill of recycled crumb rubber. At Samba, for example, 80 percent of the field has been recycled. Ten tons of tiny rubber crumbs were brought in for the approximately 2,000-square-foot field. The result creates a cushioned, slightly bouncy turf for players.

High schools seem to be SportFields’ biggest slice of clientele right now because of the amount of wear and tear on fields from football, soccer and other events, Darrell Brown said.

The business owners highlight a variety of benefits of their artificial turf. Some of the advantages – no mowing, no watering – are well known, but others might not immediately come to mind.

A drainage system installed with each field allows the water to run off without turning the soft, faux grass into mud. Sport lines, such as a 50-yard-line, are permanently painted into the turf for both football and soccer. It takes about three hours a month to maintain one of SportFields’ fields, he said.

The concept of using artificial turf – first patented as Astroturf in 1965 – seems to be catching on as the quality of the surfaces evolves. SportFields has put down turf in Illinois, Oregon, Washington, Nevada and around California.

Just in California, business has doubled in size each year SportFields has been around, Darrell Brown said.

In 2003, they installed fields in 14 venues. This year, Darrell Brown expects to do between 25 to 30.

“It’s huge. We are struggling to keep up with demand,” he said.

The initial purchase price for an artificial field runs about $600,000. That includes about $350,000 for taking out an existing grass field, and putting in a drainage system and perimeter curbing.

SportFields offers assistance in securing grants and helps raise money for schools to pay for the costly fields, Darrell Brown said.

For Samba Soccer, the cost of such a field would break the budget. But because SportFields likes to support its community, Darrell Brown said, the company worked out a deal with Samba partners Dossy and Jeff Moore to get the field in.

“They were great; they helped a lot. Any other company, and we wouldn’t be able to afford it,” Dossy said.

The company offers financing and follow-up service for customers. SportFields puts an eight-year warranty on its fields.

For more information on SportFields, visit http://www.sportfields.net on the Web or call 268-6654. The company offers free turf samples and cost analysis of the location.

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