Looking for a fun, family activity this fall? Support a local sports team by attending an athletic event at Civic Stadium. While you're there, take a look at the new artificial turf that was installed this summer.
Over 400 events are scheduled at Civic Stadium each year, making it one of the most popular sports venues in Whatcom County. The previous artificial turf had been installed in 2000, and had exceeded its lifespan. It was replaced for both safety and playability reasons. Those who played on the aging field in its last years walked away covered in field fibers and rubber infill.
The turf replacement project timeline was as exciting as a good athletic game, right down to the wire. The construction began on July 23, 2013, with an expected end date of September 7, 2013, in order to be done in time for the first high school football game of the season. The project included removal of the old synthetic turf material and replacing it with new turf with markings for lacrosse, football and soccer.
The project appeared to be ahead of schedule when everything came to a halt in mid-August after a field drainage problem was discovered upon removal of the old material. The field's base surface had been heavily compacted after years of play and needed to be broken up to restore adequate drainage. The added process of scarifying the base material increased the project cost and pushed back the expected completion date by two weeks. The City, the contractor, and the schools affected all agreed that the added cost and time to fix the drainage problem was necessary, and contingency plans were made for relocation of the first football games of the season. (Photo: Mayor Kelli Linville flips the coin at the Sehome-Nooksack season opener. Photo by Carr Lanham)
SprinTurf was the low bidder for field manufacture and installation at $399,904.04. The funding for the turf replacement project included $180,000 from Western Washington University and $300,000 from the 1997 Beyond Greenway levy, leaving approximately $80,000 for contingency funds. The process to scarify the base material used up $47,000 of the contingency funds and the prospect of project completion in time for the first football game on September 7 appeared to be out of reach.
"The SprinTurf installation team was literally running," said James King, Bellingham Parks and Recreation Director. "If they needed a tool or piece of equipment at the other end of the field, the employees ran to retrieve it and ran back to use it. It was impressive."
The City and SprinTurf worked out a schedule for overtime, night and weekend work using the remaining project contingency funds in a heroic effort to complete the field installation by the original completion date of September 7.
Their hard work paid off. The first high school football game of the season went off without a hitch on September 7, 2013. SprinTurf will return to Civic Stadium to complete a few minor finishing touches to the field in late September, but the field is playable and reservations continue to roll in for the remainder of 2013 and beyond. There appears to be no slow-down in sight to the popularity and demand of the City's only municipal synthetic turf field.
"Initial feedback from the athletes and coaches is all really positive," says King. "We are so pleased with the end product and all the hard work that went into it. We look forward to another decade of spectacular athletic performances on this beautiful new turf."
For more information about this project and Civic Stadium, contact the Parks & Recreation office at 360-778-7000.
Published: September 26, 2013