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BY Jennifer Muse and Candice Hall


O'Fallon, Illinois -

The Family Sports Park of O’Fallon, Illinois received a major facelift with a new multi-sport complex that is open and now complete. The complex features nine new Shaw Sports Turf  fields including recently added baseball and softball fields, among other amenities. In addition to baseball and softball the new fields are primarily used for lacrosse, travel and recreation soccer, and fitness/training activities.

With an anticipated 2,000 games to be played on each of these fields every year, the parks and recreation department of O’Fallon needed a playing surface that could withstand both wear and weather. A natural grass field could not stand up to this level of play. The durability of their fields was also important for attracting tournaments to the area. A resilient playing surface is essential; no one wants to travel 3-5 hours to a tournament that could get rained out or cancelled due to field conditions.

The community will continue to benefit. Not only do these fields open up many opportunities for local youth leagues, but also expand current programs and provide over 10 to 15 million dollars in economic impact in the community.

The multi-sport complex project was completed through a cooperative purchasing agreement through NJPA (National Joint Powers Alliance) with contractor Byrne and Jones.

“Purchasing through NJPA allowed us to purchase the fields at a significant savings of 25 percent or so, and saved time to spec and bid the product.  We had better control over the product as well. It saved us from cutting an entire field out of our project due to cost,” said Mary-Jeanne Hutchison, Director of O’Fallon Parks and Recreation.

NJPA’s cooperative contract purchasing leverages the national purchasing power of more than 50,000 member agencies while also streamlining the required purchasing process. As a municipal national contracting agency, NJPA establishes and provides nationally leveraged and competitively solicited purchasing contracts under the guidance of the Uniform Municipal Contracting Law. Joint Powers laws enable members to legally purchase through the organization’s awarded contracts.

“I was impressed with our Shaw Sports Turf rep, Nate Henderson, in showing us the different types of Shaw Sports Turf, as well as the quality when I compared it to other products.  It just was a no brainer,” said Hutchison. “The ability to purchase this product through NJPA most likely saved us well over $800,000 with the turnkey purchase and certified installers.”

O’Fallon Parks and Recreation has also been impressed with the efficiency of the project as all nine fields are completed. “The time management on this product by Byrne and Jones and Shaw Sports Turf has been the most efficient project I have worked on in over two decades,” said Hutchison.

Overseeing the project, and responsible for installing all of the drainage systems for the fields, is Jameson Sheley, GM of Byrne and Jones Sports Construction. For Sheley, the greatest aspect of this partnership has been the similar goals that the City of O’Fallon shares: choosing a product built for safety and quality with the user in mind, not just a “better looking” product. Shaw was able to offer a superior product at an affordable price, and the entire experience has been a positive one for everyone involved.

The City of O’Fallon chose to install Shaw Sports Turf’s Legion Pro for its quality, weight, warranty, and turnkey installation. Created with a combination of high-performance monofilament fibers and a durable slit film fiber, the slit film fiber is a workhorse which will handle the workload.  The monofilament component of the system features Shaw’s revolutionary Bolt fiber. Bolt is a stronger, more resilient monofilament fiber, featuring a lightning bolt shape which creates a stronger vertical axis that causes fibers to stand upright for less breakdown and increased durability. Bolt is specifically built for performance and to reflect light for a lower luster and more natural looking field.

To combat the Midwest heat, two of the fields also feature Shaw’s own evaporative cooling system, HydroChill, which uses moisture to provide a cooling effect.

The technology is applied to a field where components react and form a coating on the infill.  The field is watered to activate HydroChill and then energy from sunlight drives out water, removing heat from the surface.  The cooling effect of HydroChill after watering can last two to three days. Watering alone can result in some short-term cooling, but a flash-effect means temperatures can rise and quickly exceed uncomfortable levels of heat.  HydroChill creates a substantial and sustained temperature difference.

Innovative technology in the turf system and in providing more comfort for athletes in the heat have helped make this a first-class project.

“It was great working with a customer who did their due diligence in researching what companies/products were right for the project and weren't willing to accept anything but the best for their community. That is the type of community I think we all want to be a part of,” said Henderson, Territory Manager with Shaw Sports Turf.

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