PLAINFIELD – Plainfield School District 202 will finish its most significant capital project in almost 10 years this summer with upgraded stadiums at North and East high schools.
Both schools will join Plainfield Central and South high schools as part of a roughly $6.5 million project to breathe new life into the athletic stadiums with artificial turf and video displays. District 202 officials plan for the stadiums to be accessible not just for students and athletes, but the community at large.
So far, the artificial turf at Central and South have proved to be a durable investment.
District 202 Superintendent Lane Abrell said the South graduation in May was able to be held on the field despite rain showers earlier that day. The field wasn’t soft, and it drained “extremely well,” Abrell said.
“Things are going well so far,” he said.
District 202 is one of several high school districts in Will County that have embraced artificial turf for athletic fields in recent years. Manufacturers of the product attest to how artificial turf can mimic the look of natural grass while being more durable and requiring less costly maintenance.
But FieldTurf, a major manufacturer that has provided artificial turf for District 202 and Lincoln-Way High School District 210, has come under scrutiny for the quality of its Duraspine artificial turf product by NJ Advance Media and New Jersey’s The Star-Ledger in an investigative series. Lawsuits by schools in several states against the company have followed.
The lawsuits generally have accused the company of knowing its Duraspine product was susceptible to premature deterioration and failing to disclose that information to customers, according to NJ Advance Media.
Jonathan Huard, Northern Illinois regional sales manager, deferred comment on the series and the lawsuits to Darren Gill of the company’s marketing department. A FieldTurf spokesman, who declined to be named, referred to the company’s website regarding the matter.
“[We] never hid from this problem, we value our relationships with and the trust of our customers, and we strongly disagree with any attempt by the Star-Ledger to suggest otherwise,” Eric Daliere, FieldTurf president and CEO, said in the letter.
Abrell said in an email that the district has been aware of past problems with Duraspine and went with FieldTurf’s Classic HD for the stadium fields. FieldTurf sells about a dozen artificial turf products and touts Classic HD as one that provides long-lasting performance and softness.
He said the district did not find concerns with the current product used by the company.
“The work and reputation of FieldTurf with neighboring school districts and their athletic facilities, as well as their product guarantee, provided us with confidence in their selection and participation in the project,” Abrell said.
Huard said there have been no issues with Classic HD and that it is “very tested and true.”
“It’s a very popular product,” he said.
District 210 Superintendent Scott Tingley said that some of the colored areas on the district’s fields did wear out more quickly than anticipated, but they are under warranty and FieldTurf replaced those areas.
The turf at Lincoln-Way East and Central high schools was installed between 2006 and 2007. Lincoln-Way North and West schools had artificial turf installed between 2008 and 2009.
Huard said District 210’s fields had problems with colored fibers on the logos and lettering. Fibers with different colors were more affected by ultraviolet radiation than others and wore out more quickly as a result, he said.
“We’ve not had any issues with the performance of the turf or the company,” Tingley said.